Being triumphant in the midst of difficult times may sound selfish because certain individuals, businesses and churches have received the short end of the stick due to Covid-19.
How does one talk about victory in times of sorrow, when others are mourning or finding it extremely challenging to stay afloat economically?
Let’s look at it from the scriptural background, where it was never promised that Christians would not face difficulties. The church has always suffered violence – no surprises there. Adherents from the beginning of time have been persecuted – that is no news either. The history of Christianity is replete with the plight of the less privileged and instructions to look out for those with less. Even Apostle Paul remarked that there would be tribulations.
“And not only that but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Romans 5:3-4.
Let me also add that, tribulation, if managed well by continually seeking the face of God, produces tremendous faith.
Jesus and the disciples felt pain at different periods in their lives. Ours may not be as severe, but if He, the all-powerful Savior, can be subjected to such pain, who are we to complain of a minuscule proportion of that grief? We should be comforted with the knowledge given – that life is filled with ups and downs and notwithstanding, we are reassured that our God will not leave nor forsake us come what may.
The Israelites wandered in the desert for forty years. Although they were the chosen ones, they faced hardship all through those years and worst still, it may have been disheartening to hear that Moses, who had led them for those years, will not cross the Jordan with them. In handing over to Joshua, he assured the Israelites of God’s promise to destroy the enemy. And so, he commanded them to proceed to the Promised Land, telling them to
“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6
They proceeded in faith, overcame the enemy and the rest is history.
I believe that experience applies to a lot of us today. The pandemic has brought about untold hardship and even loss of lives. Still, we must press on with the assurance that all will be well.
The story of Joseph is another example of someone falling into difficulties. Joseph was imprisoned unjustly and spent quite a bit of time there. But guess what? He did not lose faith and God used him in that situation to solve Pharaoh’s dilemma. That act not only freed him but elevated him to one of the highest positions in the King’s cabinet. Yet, he had suffered severe persecution over time.
I have come to learn that hard times come in cycles – sometimes unexpectedly. For everyone, there will be high moments and there will be low moments. The Israelites had it rough, but today, they’ve come out on top. Difficult times are allowed, so we get built up to be victorious and resilient towards the next episode.
The fruits of experiences are lessons learned that are meant to be passed on to those who may fall into similar situations. They serve to encourage and build up faith. Faith is best exemplified during hard times. Difficult times refine faith and it’s when God’s goodness shines through – similar to how an unknown diamond is pressured to produce its valuable beauty. The book of James verse 1:2-4 puts it in perspective:
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
We will be faced with unsavory circumstances beyond our control. How we react and manage them will determine if we’ll be victorious or not. And I believe that is what James is speaking to in that passage.
The point I am trying to drive home here is that several unfortunate events have occurred in 2020 that have caused widespread losses and displacements. If you are reading this, it means you have your life and, in all things, we must be grateful and give thanks to God. It could have been worse. You’ve been handed a victory over the virus and other life terminating situations.