Life is different here today than it was one week ago. I suspect that it is for you as well. Tomorrow, life will be different than today. Trying to imagine what life will be like in a month seems a fool’s errand.
When life moves so swiftly it is easy to become insecure. As the unknown advances, darkness fills people’s hearts. Jesus told his disciples to let their light shine before men. What does that mean during a time like this? How can we shine the light of Jesus into this world of dread?
Be people of faith
The night Jesus was betrayed, he spent extensive time with his disciples. Their lives were about to be completely changed. Jesus wanted to strengthen them, “I 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 ESV).
When we place our trust in the one who has overcome the world, we share in that victory. “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith” (1 John 5:4).
No, our faith will not repel a virus. But our faith can and should reassure us that God never changes, his promises are true, and he loves us.
This faith ought to compel us to speak a good word for Jesus. When people despair of life, we can offer the comfort of the Great Physician.
“Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence” (2 Corinthians 4:13, 14).
If we are people of faith, who live and speak for Jesus, then our faith will be evident (see 1 Thessalonians 1:8).
Be people of love
We owe love to all people (Romans 13:8). Elders and other leaders are making difficult decisions. Brothers and sisters may be struggling in many ways. Let us walk “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2). Love is humble, patient, and kind. We desperately need to show love to others through kindness, patience, and humble understanding.
We also need to be showing our love through service. Paul told the Christians of Galatia to serve one another through love (Galatians 5:13). This service should extend both to believers and unbelievers (Galatians 6:10).
God’s people should be known for their love and sacrificial service. During the 1873 cholera epidemic, David Lipscomb did not leave like so many others, but he stayed in the city and served the poor. His demonstration of love surely helped many to see the love of Jesus. The Galatians 6:10 passage cited above states that we are to do good “as we have opportunity.” Opportunity is when need and ability coincide. If you have the ability, find a need that can be filled, or a hurt that can be healed.
Be people of discernment
God expects us to exercise good judgment. We are to “walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:8-10).
Paul’s prayer for the Philippians was that their “love may abound more and more, with knowledge and discernment” (Philippians 1:9). We need to engage in critical thinking. Evidence that does not conform to our prior understanding should not just be dismissed. Evidence that does conform to our prior understanding should not just be accepted.
Do not panic, do not scoff. While this is a real problem, panicking does not help. While some may make decisions you would not, scoffing does no good. Be mature, distinguish what is real and what is not (see Hebrews 5:14). Kindly help others in their understanding as well.
Be people of hope
We have hope! People are well-meaning when they assure us that humanity will get through this. Yes, but that is not the Christian’s hope. The Christian’s hope is that there is life beyond this one. When you despair, find refuge in God, be of “strong encouragement,” and “hold fast to the hope” which is set before you. “We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf” (Hebrews 6:18-20).
Do not lose heart. Even though our bodies may grow weaker day after day, our inner self should be renewed. Our hope is this “eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18). So we look above to the realm eternal.
To those who were enduring persecution, Peter gave this encouragement,
“Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:13).