Prize Tested Genuineness of Faith in the COVID-19 Trial
Our monthly brokerage account statement arrived by mail today. As suspected, like so many with however modest a financial nest egg, we have taken a hit.
Are you as tempted to despair as I am?
I wonder how well my shield of faith will hold up under the daily barrage of flaming missiles (Eph. 6:16).
Ever increasing reports of confirmed cases. Rising death toll rates. Prolonged stay-at-home orders. Escalating unemployment figures. Plunging financial markets.
Honestly, my attitude fluctuates. At times I stay positive. Other times I turn negative.
My biggest battle has surprised me–a struggle with entitlement. This awareness of my prevailing weakness as a human being and limitations as a spiritual leader sobers me.
What do I mean?
This is not the semi-retirement I signed up for. I eased my way out of full-time ministry in the big city, relocated to my own private Idaho paradise, accepted a small part-time pastorate, and settled in expecting to enjoy the best years ahead.
And I’m due, or so I think. Anyone who has followed this blog over the years knows I’ve seen my share of suffering, loss, trial, and failure.
It’s time to cruise. It’s time to kick back some. It’s time to enjoy the golden years with my bride.
Instead I find myself with a brand new, never-in-my-life-time challenge, pressing me to the limit.
And once again I must weigh anchor in a passage from the Bible that has seen me through countless times of trouble.
I’m talking about Ecclesiastes 7:13-14.
13 Consider the work of God: who can make straight what he has made crooked? 14 In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that man may not find out anything that will be after him.
The most important word in the passage, occurring twice, is the word “consider.” The Hebrew root literally means “see” or “look.” The idea is to inspect, reflect, dwell carefully on something.
On what? On this: God makes both the days of prosperity AND the days of adversity in our lives.
Proverbs 16:4 echoes the same truth: “The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.”
But why camp out mentally and carefully consider this wisdom truth about the Maker of both good times and bad?
So that man may not find out anything that will be after him.
Puritan commentator Matthew Henry unpacked that line this way:
that he may not be at any certainty concerning future events or the continuance of the present scene, but may live in a dependence upon Providence and be ready for whatever happens.
There you have it. So much for entitlement. So much for being in control. So much for my best life now, Curt Heffelfinger style.
My best life has always been–since following Jesus at least–one of humble dependence upon the Lord and his control over my circumstances. He desires me to be ready at all times for whatever happens–not whatever I want to happen.
And he even invites me to rejoice in trials like this, grievous though they are, because they can result in the tested genuineness of my faith–more precious than gold (and our investment account) though it is tested by fire (1 Pet. 1:6-7).
IF, IF, IF I don’t waste my pandemic!
IF I keep taking up my shield of faith which can extinguish every fiery dart of the enemy (Eph. 6:16).
IF I let the testing of my faith produce steadfastness (James 1:2).
IF I let suffering produce endurance, and endurance produce character, and character produce hope which does not put to shame (Rom. 5:3-5).
Don’t waste your pandemic bemoaning and stressing what you can’t control!
Consider him who ordains prosperity and adversity alike and learn the prized lesson.
What matters is dependence upon him at every turn and a faith on the other side of COVID-19 tested by fire more precious than gold.
Make that your aim and please pray I/we do the same.