“… for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am” (Phil. 4:11). I’ve always appreciated the word “learned” in that verse. It meant that having the ability to “be anxious for nothing” wasn’t something instantly gained, but rather acquired over time. So how are we Christians doing during these days of international pandemic? What do those around us observe and hear when they see and listen to us?
What is it that we Christians are to understand about the “trials” of life? Peter wrote that indeed, in this life, we would be “distressed by various trials, that the proof of [our] faith … may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:6b -7) Are we considering what it is that our conduct in these days should be proving? Are we measuring our words and actions against the only life that we should be endeavoring to emulate?
In his first epistle, John wrote “the one who says he abides in Him ought Himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” So again, what are our friends and neighbors seeing and hearing these days? Paul once wrote “it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” Why should our conduct during these days one day result in the praise of our Lord? Why? Because we will have held ourselves accountable to being nothing more or less than a reflection of Him, all the time, in every word, and in every action.
This may be a larger opportunity to reflect Him to others than many of us have had before. This is an uncommon trial. It is international in scope and impartial in its selection process. And it’s not as if every other difficulty in life has ceased. Death, which is what causes fear in many, is still all about us, just as it was before this virus. It’s just that car accidents, suicides, and normal mortality don’t make front page news.
But death is not the only hardship that this pandemic brings forth. The shutdowns are also causing stress that will cause more personal and family damage than the virus itself. And perhaps the greatest frustration for many will be dealing with the limitations imposed by leaders in Washington for whom they have no respect. And when we hear such frustration expressed, how are we to respond? Shouldn’t these words from Paul come to mind: “Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God” (Rom. 13:1)?
None of us have any idea how this whole thing is going to turn out. None of us even knows what tomorrow will bring. But there are things that we can know for certain, and, that we can share with others. Are we not convinced “that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38-39)?
As Christians, these days are most assuredly affording us a great opportunity. A time to “examine [our]selves” to see that we “are in the faith” (2 Cor. 13:5). And let us not forget this truth: “[We] can do all things through Him who strengthens [us]” (Phil. 4:13).