I have asked Paul Burgess, one of our congregants, to write a post on how times of trials and suffering can benefit believers and the church (he’s actually going to write a few connected posts over the next few weeks). Part of the reason I’ve asked him to do this is because every time I’ve talked to him during this coronavirus situation, he’s been tangibly and infectiously joyful. And this is someone who is in one of the most-at risk categories! The hope Paul and his wife Vicki have in God, and the confidence that they have that God can and will use difficult times to strengthen believers and the church, is clearly evident. Paul writes for another blog as it is, and I think his perspective on living in this time as believers is valuable.
The title of this mini-series of blogs comes from Romans 5:
“… 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)
God often uses suffering to produce many good things in the lives of his people, as well as to draw more people to himself. This is our hope and prayer for us as a church.
With that, here is Paul’s first post:
Nothing like the OBVIOUS to get our attention.
Obviously these are not normal times. Suddenly things changed. Certainty fled and imaginations took over. An unsettled emotion caught our attention, with some it turned to fear. I suspect us “old timers,” who love reading the prophets, are getting pretty excited anticipating our Lord’s return. The apostles lived with this kind of expectation as they proclaimed the good news.
Some of us are thrilled to see what God is accomplishing in these present circumstances. He is using them to get our attention. The loss of money, the dread of insecurity and the threat of sickness/death will definitely open the eyes of someone who believes in Jesus. Praise God for the heart changes that happen when He has our attention.
Our son, Sajid told us of the current conditions in Pakistan. A quarter of the nation feed themselves on the money they earn that day. Because of the shut-down they have not been able to work! Another quarter of the population can manage for three days without wages. He then went on to tell us about ministry.
A Christian woman who worked as a maid was let go when her wealthy employers self-quarantined. “I’ll call you when we need you.” Three children to feed, and only God to provide, she was praying when she heard a knock on her door. Hers was one of four baskets of food delivered that day. Can you imagine experiencing the joy of the Lord when being an answer to prayer. These are the times much of the world has already been experiencing, a daily need to call upon the Lord.
“For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon You.” (Psalm 86:5 NASB)
To all who call upon Him!