Hope In a Time of Corona
“The one who has the most hope in a situation has the most influence.”
Years ago, this quote came out of a prayer meeting over a crisis situation at Bethel Church. It was said by a young mom, and it is a quote that I have cherished for a decade and am meditating on now.
Let me ask you: how’s your hope?
When you get hit with bad news, how’s your hope?
When you have been told your hours are cut or your job has disappeared, how’s your hope?
When you are going stir crazy from being quarantined or being thrust into a role as a “homeschooler” or being 24/7 in when you want to be out, how’s your hope?
Wisdom from a Different Perspective is Needed
The Bible says this in Romans 5:1-4:
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; 5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
Let’s break this out a little:
Everything starts with relationship restoration. We are justified, legally and totally made righteous through the transference of God’s righteousness to us through Jesus. (Read 2 Corinthians 5 and weep, rejoice and slow down, read it again….it’s better than you think!)
Through this relationship, we have deep-seated peace with God, it is so good that no one in the Godhead is against us (Romans 8 - again read slowly…it’s better than you think!)
This relationship creates hope - because it transcends time and space with God. We have hope now for glory on an unprecedented scale later and yet, we are changed in that glory, moment by moment. (2 Corinthians 3:16-18; Romans 12:1,2)
In these times of pressure (that’s what you are feeling behind the anger, frustration and general “argh”, is pressure), we can get ahead of the curve with “joyful confidence” (The Passion Translation), knowing that the pressure now has to serve a greater Master than the one who sent it.
There is a transfer for the believer!
God enters in to work out good, inexorably, methodically and with certainty! In this case, it starts with pressure and ends with patient endurance. Remember the word a few weeks ago from our sister, Lura Volkelt? Some want the word to be complete the moment it is given, but the Lord wants the word given to mature into the full ear, (the analogy was corn.)
Patient endurance has a reward and that’s what is next, but here are a couple of verses to help you welcome this time of pressure with joy! (James 1:2 - “lead with joy into the trial”; James 1:12 - there is a crown for the one who endures (crown in Latin is where the word “corona” comes from - an exchange His crown for that other junk!) and finally 1 Peter 1:3-9 - now isn’t that good?)
Refined character is the result of patient endurance which when it has done its refining work, leads us back to hope.
Character sees beyond the moment. It makes decisions based on values, principles and most importantly relationship and covenant. It doesn’t get swayed by pressure or testing.
Testing is what happens to a person, endurance is what a person needs in the testing so that character becomes who the person is. The wait is vital because it produces hope.
Why? Just wait, I will explain in the next point, but in the meantime here are some scriptures to meditate on. (Malachi 3:2,3 - I know, ouch, but focus on the result! Titus 2:11-15)
Finally, let me just quote the Passion Translation on Romans 5:5:
“And this hope is not a disappointing fantasy, because we can now experience the endless love of God cascading into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who lives in us!”
That insight I promised you, we sing about it now. “Take courage my heart, be steadfast my soul, He’s in the waiting.”
And there it is.
No matter what happens with the economy. No matter how long we have to adjust to “social distancing” and “no gatherings above ten”, no matter the fluctuations of the stock market and the price of oil, no matter all of the very real consequences of all this, He is waiting for you in the waiting.
He has never been surprised by anything and never will be. Let me remind all of us, me included, of someone who knew privation, being falsely accused, on the lam and on the run, who knew harrowing difficulties, made more mistakes than most, (okay just like us, but whoa, some of his were doozies!), and had an actual Goliath and not just a figurative one.
This verse comes from this week’s life journal reading in Psalm 37:25
“I have been young and now I am old,
Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken
Or his descendants begging bread.”
Be good to each other, yes, even be excellent to each other. Look for ways to love, to connect, to shine with Jesus. Witness to the fast-food clerk why you are not afraid, lend your hope to them. When you are at the front of the line for toilet paper, hand a few back to others to defy the wicked spirit of the age of greed and fear (I am serious). In every day, hold onto hope and onto HOPE, the One who is the Blessed Hope! Look for ways to be representatives of another kingdom in every exchange and action.
We will get through this and do it in victory, hope, and joy! He has a solution for everything!
One final thing: if you haven’t heard, we will be live-streaming our service for the next three weeks (March 22, 29 and April 5th), but it will be closed to the public for attendance except for those helping to do this.
Why are we responding this way? I personally believe that no virus can touch me (if you would have seen what I have eaten and where I have been overseas, your faith would grow as well as your prayers ;-)), and we have a moment to act in faith as neighbors and citizens, to bless those around us by complying for these few weeks.
In faith to lay aside fear that “there will be no money and it will fall apart”.
In faith to say, in the midst of it all Jesus heals, saves and delivers!
Trust me, in multiple calls with the Bethel team, there are temptations to leaders, just like yours.
So, let’s resist. Let’s come in the opposite spirit. Remember that anything not done in faith is sin (missing the mark of God’s glory for us and our lives).
You can wash your hands out of fear or faith.
You can choose self-isolation out of fear or faith.
Turn everything around for His glory!
If you are home, enjoy it, don’t fight it! Find Jesus in the midst. Didn’t we already say, “He’s in the waiting!”
I am so happy to be called your pastor and to hear of how you are loving one another. Keep it up. This too shall pass and we will be victorious!
With much love and a little humor,
Doug (on behalf of Janice and the leadership as well!)