COVID-19. Are you getting sick of the word yet? It seems that no matter where you look, it’s all we are hearing about at present. But there is good reason for this. As I write, there are more than 766,000 reported cases globally (4359 of those cases are from the country I live in—Australia) and close to 36,800 people have died.1
The virus, however, is just the beginning. As countries go into lockdown, people are losing their jobs. Families are fearful about how they are going to get by, the economy is on shaky ground, and what makes it worse is we can’t come together in person to encourage each other, talk things over or worship our God. I can see how many may be tempted to stop and ask, “Is God is still with us?”
I believe He is. There are numerous passages of scripture where God makes it abundantly clear that He won’t desert us in hard times. Isaiah 41:10 is a favourite of mine:
“Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”
He is with us. But (don’t you hate that word sometimes?), just because He is with us, doesn’t mean it’s going to be an easy run from here. In fact, it could be a really difficult one. Scripture doesn’t shy away from the fact that Jesus’ disciples would go through difficult times. James 1:2-4 actually goes so far as to say that we should even “rejoice” in these times:
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”
“Lean into God. Lean into Him deeper—yes much deeper—than you ever have before!”
Trials, adversity, affliction, hardship—unfortunately, being a Christian doesn’t mean you get a free pass on these. It’s inevitable that these times will come, and God’s Word calls us to be joyful in these and grow through them. While I wish I could say that this will blow over quickly and everything will be fine, the reality is that, as we live and share Jesus in these last days, we are going to have some trouble.
Prophetically looking into the closing of earth’s history, Ellen White pens a sobering statement:
“While appearing to the children of men as a great physician who can heal all their maladies, he [the Devil] will bring disease and disaster, until populace cities are reduced to ruin and desolation. Even now he is at work. In accidents and calamities by sea and by land, in great conflagrations, in fierce tornadoes and terrific hailstorms, in tempests, floods, cyclones, tidal waves, and earthquakes, in every place and in a thousand forms, Satan is exercising his power. He sweeps away the ripening harvest, and famine and distress follow. He imparts to the air a deadly taint, and thousands perish by pestilence. These visitations are to become more and more frequent and disastrous.”2
Are we living in the days described, or are they to come? I don’t know. What I do know, is that life isn’t easy, and it’s not looking to get easier for us.
So, what do we do?
Here’s what I suggest. Lean into God. Lean into Him deeper—yes much deeper—than you ever have before!
As the clock winds down, and life gets tougher and tougher, God doesn’t promise we won’t have trouble. In fact, Jesus promised we will have trouble (John 16:33). But (sometimes I do like this word), in that trouble He also promises to be an ever-present help (Psalms 46:1). He promises to “supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). And, most importantly, He promises that if you draw close to Him, He will draw close you (James 4:8).
We are heading into some hardship, no doubt. However, I firmly believe that if we lean into God like we have never done before—despite the fact that we can’t worship in our buildings or do business as usual—the Adventist Church will come out the other side of this stronger, and closer to Jesus, than when we went in. I believe that if we as a Church “dwell in the shelter of the Most High we will rest in the shadow of the Almighty”. And, although it might be tough, we will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust. Surely, he has saved us from the fowler’s snare and rescued us from the deadly pestilence” (Psalms 91:1-3).
Pastor Simon Gigliotti is youth director for the Greater Sydney Conference.
- Ellen White, The Great Controversy, 331-332.