In a time of pandemic, we should remember the surety of trials, the comfort of truth, and timeless tips for the Christian.
As the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns continue with no definite end in sight, many families are struggling with the loss of loved ones, economic devastation, and fear and anxiety about what the future holds. This is nothing new in a sin-cursed and broken world and God’s Word speaks to the very real problems of our day.
Many popular professing Christians may claim in their best-sellers that God only wants you to be healthy and wealthy, and they may even cherry-pick verses to support their ideas.
In Scripture, we see examples of God’s people who went through rough times. Many popular professing Christians may claim in their best-sellers that God only wants you to be healthy and wealthy, and they may even cherry-pick verses to support their ideas. But that’s not the full testimony of God’s Word and is nothing short of a false gospel. Hard times will come, and believers are not exempt. Now that may not seem very comforting at first, but we will come back to that.
Here is some of what Scripture says—referring to believers—about the surety of trials in this world:
I [Jesus] have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)
Resist him [Satan], firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. (1 Peter 5:9–10)
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:3–5)
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2–4)
For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison. (2 Corinthians 4:17)
In addition to these explicit statements that we should expect hardship, Scripture is full of examples of godly individuals who did endure personal suffering and lack (but still saw God’s provision in and through it). Here’s just a few:
So if Scripture teaches both explicitly and through examples that believers will face hardship, how can we be comforted and trust God? By turning to promises from God’s Word and reflecting on the character and attributes of God. Let truth be the balm that soothes your anxieties.
As an aside, this is why it matters what you believe about God. Trials and hardships are when the “rubber meets the road” in our spiritual lives. If we have a view of God that is not based on Scripture and who he actually is, we will not be encouraged or strengthened through trials. Instead, we will be anxious, not understanding why the God we’ve created doesn’t do what we want him to do. Good theology and doctrine matter! And we develop a robust theology by reading all of God’s Word.
Here are just some of the promises of God and some of his attributes that you can cling to and be strengthened by no matter what trial you are facing:
We battle anxiety by first presenting our requests to God, doing so with thanksgiving.
As you seek to trust God during these deep waters, consider these practical steps you can take to concentrate on biblical truth and apply it to your situation.
Pray. This may seem obvious, or even trite, but it’s vital. God’s Word says, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6). We battle anxiety by first presenting our requests to God, doing so with thanksgiving. What can we be thankful for? His promises, his unchanging character, and our eternal home in heaven for starters.
Also, pray specifically. Examine yourself to see where your anxieties are coming from. What exactly are you most afraid of? Pray specifically about that. Not just asking God to end the trial, but to accomplish his good and perfect will in and through it, both in your life and in your nation and around the world.
Read his Word—all of it. Again, this may seem obvious. But God’s Word is the revelation he has given us for our encouragement and edification. You will not be encouraged by God’s Word if you don’t know what it says or you may falsely cling to promises he hasn’t made. Get into all of God’s Word for yourself. See how he has been faithful all throughout history.
For example, in Genesis 3, right after sin, God promises that a Savior is coming (Genesis 3:15) and all throughout the Old Testament we see how God is faithful to bring his promise of a Savior to fulfillment, culminating in the advent of Jesus Christ. Do a study of Jesus throughout the Old Testament and be refreshed by his faithfulness throughout all of history. He was faithful then; he will be faithful again.
Or consider reading through the Psalms. So many of the Psalms begin with a lamentation or confusion about what God is doing. But they end with a changed attitude because they reflect on the character of our God—he is good, he is kind, he is faithful, he will never forsake us, he is completing his good plan.
The words to the great hymn “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” were penned over 100 years ago by a man suffering from poor health who never had much in the way of money or material possessions. But he believed the verses he based the song on, “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22–23, KJV), and they—and the words to his song—are just as true now as they were then. Great is God’s faithfulness, no matter the circumstances.