(Copyright: Marcelo A. Tolopilo)
How things change…
A little over a month ago we were moving forward in conventional ministry making plans, preparing to speak, meeting with folks face-to-face, then suddenly life and ministry began to change notably. One Thursday morning I was preparing to speak for a Saturday men’s event, by lunch the event was cancelled due to concerns over COVID-19 transmission. Within days my calendar cleared dramatically and short term ministry became beholden to two words I never uttered together in my life, “social distancing.”
Suddenly ministry needed to be done remotely. Personal meetings became more or less phone conversations or texting. Small group discussions were now done through “Zoom” (a nifty meeting application), and while I preached to our home church congregation, I did so remotely via streaming on YouTube!
Change can often be unsettling
For all of us, adjusting to the challenges of this pandemic have varied from occasionally welcome (e.g., spending more time with our families, eating together, slowing down, counting our blessings, etc.), to mildly annoying (like having to don a hazmat suit simply to go to the Post office, or standing in line just for the opportunity to buy toilet paper only to find the shelves bare… again, or then again, feeling like you bagged a moose for winter when you score a package of eight rolls) to down right scary (losing a job unexpectedly, or having your income drastically reduced, or observing the suffering of countless souls around the globe).
Excursions into Worryland
The changes we have seen over the past one and a half months are, in a word, unsettling. While feeling concern is a normal human response, I have to admit sometimes I allow my unsettledness to grow into anxiety. For example, when I feed my “need to know” with too much “news” programming, I often tend to worry. Or when I try to anticipate what further changes lie ahead in the uneasy shadows of tomorrow’s concerns, I land in worryland. I find that when I allow my mind to run with worry, I usually do.
Living in Peace
That said, one of the most wonderful things about being a Christian is that we live our lives not by the worries of this world–though sometimes we foolishly take short excursions into worryland–but by a book of immutable truths that lead us into the peace of God and to the God of peace (Philippians 4:6-9).
We can actually change our thinking to conform with eternal truths, and that change of thinking brings with it internal peace. With that in mind, allow me to give you a short list of promises that have replaced my anxiety with peace and filled me with great joy during the last few weeks. I pray that you may add biblical promises God has alighted on your heart to the list below.
Though the world may shake and tremble all around us, I encourage you to meditate on the following wonderful and unchanging realities of our Christian faith.
Regarding God’s sovereign rule
God is still on His throne: “His sovereignty rules over all” (Psalm 103:19). God is providentially working through our present circumstances to save souls, to exalt Christ, to enlarge our love for Him, and to bring families together. He is in control and bringing about His purposes for our good and His glory.
Regarding the Bible
The Bible is not shackled by our sudden limitations: “but the word of God is not imprisoned” (2 Tim 2:9).
It is still powerful to save, to convict, to comfort, to change us! It is such a blessing to continue to study this book and to share it through every medium God makes available.
Regarding Jesus Christ
Jesus Himself is unchanging: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). We know that Jesus is ever faithful…
…to plead our case before the Father: “since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25). You can rest in this:
Jesus prays for you!
…to successfully make our defense: “And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1).
…and therefore to continually cleanse us from each and every one of our sins: “…and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin”
(1 John 1:7).
…to hold us securely saved now and forever: “Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him” (Hebrews 7:25).
…to steadfastly love His people: ”To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood” (Revelation 1:5). “Yes, Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so!!”
These truths–and countless others–remain unchanged by the tumult around us. Meditate on these things and may the peace of God guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Peace be unto you