How has the COVID-19 pandemic been testing your faith?
All of us could probably provide different answers to this question. For some, the pandemic may have introduced new fears or revived old ones. Experiencing increased isolation may have led us to lose touch with our sources of fellowship – our families, a church community, or close friendship groups. As much of our faith involves action, for many of us, not being able to physically reach out to those in our communities or participate in addressing social needs can leave us feeling purposeless and empty. We may be asking the question: how do we practically love God and our neighbour amid lockdowns and restrictions?
Perhaps the greatest aspect of difficulty in all this is how unprepared we all have been for such a crisis. There is really no way to prepare for a worldwide event such as COVID-19.
I think perhaps we are all feeling a little caught off guard.
Writer Adrian Warnock once said that ‘The better we know God, the better we are able to face the test of suffering.’ He went on to ask ‘Will we be like Job who worshiped God when his life fell apart, or like Job’s wife who urged him to curse God?’
God wants us to be real with Him – to tell Him how we feel, to ask for guidance, and to expect Him to communicate with us in return. This happens, however, in a trusting relationship that demonstrates resilience in the face of unexpected adversity.
Unexpected twists and turns, rather than being a sign of spiritual lack, are instead often a sign that God loves us enough to point us in a better direction.
When Jesus entered our broken world, He came in an unexpected way. He did not arrive with all the forces of Heaven to destroy worldly kingdoms and establish a new order, as He was expected to do. Instead, He arrived as a vulnerable, seemingly insignificant child and grew to die an excruciating death so that the forces of evil could be conquered by the power of His resurrection.
Here at Interserve, we have been asking questions of God – personally and as an organisation. What, Lord, would you have us do in this time? How can we see your kingdom come despite (and through) the trials of distance and isolation? To these questions, we are daily seeking answers.
This Gospel is the basis for our ministry. Therefore, cross-cultural ministry was designed to work within the confines of the unexpected. To respond to the unexpected. To work in an unexpected way. To seek to change lives, no matter the circumstances. This means that there is a path to walk on, and if we know God, we may even be on it now.
What are some practical ways we can find out if we are doing God’s will in this time? Here are a few examples of ways you can seek God’s face amid the unexpected.
This may seem like an obvious one, yet it can be hard to maintain without the accountability of physical fellowship with other believers. If you are feeling low, praying through the Psalms or simply meditating on the words within them is a way to find encouragement and understanding. Ask God to show you what He wants you to do for Him, today.
- Reading Bible stories of overcoming battles
This may be a time to revisit the stories of those in the Bible who faced difficult circumstances and remained faithful, such as Job, Esther, Nehemiah and Moses.
- Upskilling in understanding justice and faith
This is a great time to learn, grow and get inspired for the future. Join webinars on social justice and the Gospel, find experts to ask questions of and investigate agencies who you could partner with – either in Australia or abroad.
- Try to stay as connected as possible
Form a Bible study or focused study with your Christian friends, find ways to serve your church – even if it is just donating money or food (where possible) to those who are struggling, and seek a mentor to meet with online.
The main thing to remember is that God still has a purpose for you. He still has a purpose for this world, and COVID-19 cannot destroy that. Be gentle with yourself as you navigate this trial, and as we all look forward to a day when more options are open for service.