As Americans we love to be comfortable! We don’t like to have to suffer, experience pain, or endure hardships. We want an “our best life now” where “every day is a Friday!” I remember the days of my youth where I actually had to get up from the couch and turn the knob on the television to change the channels (back when there were only about 5!)
When Christ called us to Himself in salvation, did He ever promise us that life would be comfortable?
Many of you probably have heard of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He was a German pastor during World War II who was very vocal against Hitler’s Nazism and genocide against the Jews. He was arrested in 1943 by the Gestapo and spent a year in a German prison awaiting his execution. He was hanged in April 1945 just 23 days before the Nazi’s surrendered. He wrote a book called The Cost of Discipleship and you’ve probably heard his famous quote: “The cross is laid on every Christian. The first Christ-suffering which every man must experience is the call to abandon the attachments of this world. . . we surrender ourselves to Christ in union with His death—we give over our lives to death. . . When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.”
This COVID-19 pandemic has been an affliction of epic proportions. We are tempted to lose heart. We are prone to despair. We give into fear. Listen to the words of Paul in 2Corinthians 4:16–18:“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
In the midst of this crisis, we pray for the coronavirus to go away and for life to go back to normal. But what if it doesn’t go back to “normal?” What if God’s plan is to purify His church and to make us endure hard times to grow our faith in Him. I know it may hard to believe, but this pandemic is a light momentary affliction. I am not minimizing the detrimental impact this crisis has had on people’s health, the economy, and the social issues surrounding it. This is a real time of tribulation we are enduring. But compared to eternity, COVID-19 is light and momentary.
What we are going through right now is God’s way of preparing us for an eternal glory beyond all comparison. Our hope is on Jesus and the eternal life we get to spend with Him in heaven. That future reality is our ultimate home and desire. Yet, in the midst of trying times, our gaze often turns to the negative circumstances around us. We look down instead of up.
Are we living ultimately for the temporary comfort of the “here and now’? Does our heart’s affection reside in the temporary, transient things of this world? Or are our eyes and hearts fixed on things eternal where our ultimate joy is located—namely in Jesus Christ Himself.
We pray for an end to this coronavirus and all of its debilitating effects. We pray for families who have been affected medically, economically, emotionally, and spiritually. We pray for strength and grace and peace from our Lord. And we pray that He would give us a real sense of hope in our future. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus!