A message from Pastor Phil:
Throughout this past week, I have been thinking of 1 Peter 1:6-9, which seems to fit us well as we have been so rapidly thrown into this pandemic with all of its health, social, and economic consequences:
6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
This Scripture suggests how God uses the challenges of life to test our faith. God has always used hard times to strengthen a Christian’s faith. It has been part of the church since its beginning. Why is that? Trials force us to reflect, meditate, and pray through God’s promises. When life is easy, our faith can be shallow; trials take our faith to a new level of trust. It is easy to trust God when we are on the mountain and the blue sky is above us, but trusting God in a dark valley is completely different. In those valleys, often the only rest we have is our faith in a God who transcends all of the world’s events and even uses them for His purpose.
We all know that gold is put into fire to remove its impurities. Let’s allow this time of isolation to reflect on what God thinks is important in our life — to enjoy our family, encourage others, increase in our knowledge of Scripture, and ask God to grow our faith. If we determine to do this individually and as families, we will all be stronger in Him when we meet together again as a church family.
This past week brought uncertain times to our doorstep. Yet, the God who created this world knew about it before it came our direction. He always knows the circumstances His children face. Throughout the Bible there are reminders of God’s promises to His children when times are challenging. Israel often faced such times—whether it was the darkness of famine or the raging enemies of God. The prophets along with the Psalmist often reflected upon the God who had enabled them to be victorious in the past, who would strengthen them in the present, and go before them into the future.
In the book of Deuteronomy, Moses was nearing the end of his days as Israel's leader and sought to encourage God’s people. There was about to be a leadership change along with the tremendous task of conquering Canaan—the land promised to Abraham’s descendants. Moses admonishes God’s people, “The Lord thy God, he will go over before thee, and he will destroy these nations from before thee, and thou shalt possess them: Joshua, he will go over before thee, as the Lord hath said. ... Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee” (Deut. 31:3, 6).
In this current crisis, God will go before us and He will not fail us or forsake us. This is a great opportunity to trust God and grow in our faith. Faith often grows when challenged with circumstances beyond our control. COVID-19 (coronavirus) may affect the physical condition of our lives, but it can never affect the condition of our souls. If we choose to trust God’s promises, it can make us stronger spiritually so that on the other side of this crisis, we will realize God was with us.