What a year! It is clear that COVID-19 has had an effect on my posting this year. Overall, my family and I have been blessed to avoid the virus, but that doesn’t mean that this year has had no impact on us. A lot of things have happened this year, and a lot of people have shown their true colors. In this post, I simply want to discuss some of the events of this year and what they mean for Christians.
Note: if you (understandably) don’t care much for my personal recap of the last few months, feel free to skip down to the heading titled: Trial by Fire.
Let’s start just before the lockdowns started happening. Back in February and March, I was finally beginning to find my place in my home congregation, and I started to be involved in more. I was asked to lead a hymn that meant a lot to me and speak on it for a few minutes at Sunday evening worship. I was so excited for this, and I prepared my talk on the hymn “Dear Lord and Father of Mankind.” As the reports about the coronavirus continued to inch nearer to the US, my thoughts were mixed with denial, dread, and disbelief (keep those three feelings in mind–they are going to stick around a while). Finally, the virus came too close, and our church leaders made the tough decision to move to strictly virtual services, streamed over Facebook Live–the Sunday I was to give my talk.
“No worries!” I told myself. The large part of me that dreads public speaking was, admittedly relieved. I was still proud of the study I did on the words of that hymn, so I posted them here on Thoughts on March 15th. Unfortunately, that was the last post I made.
The following months were, as I’m sure is the same for many, an absolute blur. I moved to working from home. Schools were moving to online learning. We had to wear masks. Social distancing. Many times through all this, I kept a hopeful attitude that all this would pass in a couple weeks. I look back at those moments and laugh. Let’s talk for a moment about those three feelings.
For the majority of March through August or so, I was pretty much living in denial of all these crazy events. (Side note: I apologize if my memory of this timeframe gets a bit askew; I honestly have trouble remembering the order of events during “The Blur,” as I’m calling those months.) I assumed that we would go back to work, worship, school, etc. in a few weeks. Well, “a few weeks” started to turn into “a few months.” I still fought these thoughts in my mind. Surely, we would still be able to go to a week of Christian Youth Camp in July (I had gone every year for most of my life, except for 2018 and 2019, so I was so excited to get to go again). As time went on and we drew closer to July, the virus continued to spread. I still somehow thought that putting about 100 adolescents together on a campground for a week would be “COVID approved.” Then, denial soon turned to dread.
Soon, what I was dreading came to be: camp was cancelled for the year. Naturally I was upset. I believe this is the moment when I started to realize and accept that this beast called COVID was not going away anytime soon, and that it wasn’t going to yield to my wishes. Still, I tried to make the most of the situation. I organized about 11 preachers to record themselves giving lessons to be posted on our camp Facebook group. I just wanted to hold onto any way to bring people together in bible study and encouragement. Both have been the most essential workers, and will continue to be.
Shortly, as if a worldwide pandemic wasn’t enough, the world turned to things that heightened my disbelief at what this year was hurling our way.
A pandemic that spread to the entire world, infecting millions and horrifyingly leaving many dead. More shootings. Discussions of race and hate crimes. Intensifying political climate. Not knowing what media sources can even be trusted. What is happening to our country and our world? Why does it seem like everything is happening right now, all at once? I don’t know what else to say about disbelief, because this year just leaves me speechless.
Trial by Fire
I believe that in some way, through His providence, God is testing us. Now, God knows the hearts of all and knows who is faithful to Him, but I believe this test is being performed both on us and for us. This year, through the dense fog of all these horrible events, we have been able to see the truth of people’s convictions. We have seen what people will really do when there is a shortage on toilet paper. We have seen what people will believe about someone they barely know, when the loudest voices are telling them what they think is true and right. We have seen continued degradation of God’s established natural laws. We have seen supposed followers of Christ move a mile on issues that should never be moved an inch.
God is testing us, and as gold is purified by fire to remove impurities, He is sending a lot of fire our way to work out the impurities from among us.
The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the Lord tests hearts.Proverbs 17:3 (ESV)
But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.Job 23:10 (ESV)
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.1 Peter 5:10 (ESV)
Trials such as this are made to make clear the impurities in our lives so that we may aim to remove them. They are also made so that we may clearly see those who may have been living under the name of Christ, but have made it evident that they don’t find His words important enough to be followed.
Even though these trials seem unbearable sometimes, we know that they are for our eternal benefit.
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.1 Peter 4:12-13 (ESV)
With recent news of good success rates for vaccines, there seems to be a light coming into view at the end of tunnel. Granted, should COVID-19 be under control soon, we still have many issues on our plate. No matter who the president is, we each still have personal responsibility to admonish all those in our lives. It seems that over the past months of isolation and stress, we have let the study and spread of God’s teachings dwindle. Many of us have felt that so much of this year was “lost time” that we just didn’t want to do anything at all. For me it has been 8 months since life drastically changed. That is too long that I allowed Satan’s ploys to keep me from doing the things I ought to. Prayerfully we will soon be able to return to some semblance of “normal” life, however that may look. We should use our excitement in being around others more often again to renew our vigor teaching God’s Word. But let us stay vigilant as we press on to “test all things” (1 Thess. 5:21) that we may hear and not just trust the media or the loud voices in our society. The truth is found with God, not men. May God’s Word, peace, truth, hope, love, and presence infect and overwhelm even more than the coronavirus ever could.
Thank you so much for reading! Comment below what has been a big hardship for you this year and/or ways you feel we can work hard in the future to bring Christ to others and better ourselves.