Good Advice From Paul
I need some solid ground these days. It is pretty obvious that no one here on earth is truly in charge and I refuse to believe that a small unseen virus is in control. I find great comfort in knowing our God is still on the throne. Based on truths like that, Paul gives us some good advice in Romans 12:12. He gives us a path to solid ground. “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer”.
Our officials are telling us to brace ourselves for what is coming in the next two to three weeks. We are going to be quarantined for the next four weeks, at least. I struggle to imagine that things will ever be the same again. When I drive my wife to the grocery store it almost feels like I am in one of those zombie movies. Few people are out and about. You see danger everywhere and I almost expect to be attacked at any moment. If we could add a burning car or two the effects would be complete. But Paul gives me great assurance. He says to “rejoice in hope”. Hope in the Bible is confident assurance that God will do what he has said he will do. He will keep all his promises. He will provide means for us to fulfill his commands. This, like all things, are light and momentary compared to the glories that await us. I have great confidence in God and I trust his heart and that allows me to trust what his hands are doing. Even if things get worse, even if this is only the beginning of afflictions, we can find reason to rejoice in the hope that God has given to us. I find that I am too often placing my joy in the predictions of man. For instance, I am setting my mind on one more month. My hope is placed in hanging on for one more month. But what if it is longer? I want to learn to rejoice in the hope, the confident assurance, of God.
We have painted a cabinet we have wanted to paint for a long time. We have painted our kitchen walls. We have played games on several nights. We have cooked special dinners. It’s only been two weeks and we have four more, at least, to go. Paul tells me to be “patient in tribulation” or affliction. I know that I am not truly in affliction. Those who have the virus, folks out of work, folks who have work in healthcare, and those who have the virus...they are in affliction. Living with patience during difficult times is difficult. Dealing with today’s problems today and leaving tomorrow’s until tomorrow is easier said than done. Patience is often a recognition that we are not in control and that our God is worthy enough for us to wait on. This day, the one that we are living in right now, is the day that he has made. He has prepared this day so that we are able to bring him glory by growing closer to the image of Christ. Our exhausted state, our frustrated state, our battles have been prepared by him in order to allow us to grow in Christ by making this day about bringing him glory. This day is not about me or what I think should happen. This day is about realizing, once again, that he is the center of the universe and that my desires, no matter how pure they may be, our called to be first and foremost about his glory. That will bring me patience and rest.
If that is my desire then I must be “constant in prayer”. I find that I am constantly having to stop to say a quick prayer or two to my Father. A friend has lost his job for a while, another is getting tested for the virus, I have become anxious for this to pass, I am trying to take control of things because I am not trusting what God is doing, I am glancing at the markets or I am anxious about my responsibilities as a man. These days are so different that I am struggling to find my normal rhythm of life. That normal rhythm allowed me to live more independently from God. I knew what I was doing and I was comfortable with keeping God at a distance. Now, each day, is different and things are changing so fast that I find I need wisdom and direction. I need God. I am more constant in prayer these days than I have been for a while. I want to rejoice in hope and patient in tribulation and that requires being constant in prayer.
Good advice from Paul. So wash your hands, do not touch your face, but also use this time to learn to rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, and to be constant in prayer.