It’s been a test for us all. It included self-quarantine and social distancing. All the while businesses were closed, and contacts with friends and family became digital. Churches stood empty while God’s people sat on their couches or at their kitchen tables to maintain the vital connection to their Savior over the Internet.
My test was minor compared to some who lost jobs and closed their shops. That brought empty pockets with no cash coming in. Bankruptcies, even for major retail chains, have followed, and it’s fair to assume that many more will come.
Even after we open businesses, the test will continue. Our lives will change. The economic downturn has eroded the financial resources of almost everyone. Retirement portfolios are worth less—perhaps much less—than they were three months ago with no assurance that they will return to their original value soon.
I’ve taken to reading to pass the time. One book took place in the 1930s. It included the collapse of the stock market in 1929 with its serious hardships that we have not yet encountered. A test then? Certainly. Loss of homes, jobs, and money created migrations of people who left everything behind. But looking for a better life sometimes brought only a shack of discarded boards and tarpaper. Those shacks multiplied into villages filled with hungry and desparate families.
No matter what history brings, Jesus has forgiven us, and we are children of God, dearly loved.
So my test is minor, and most of the misery today does not reach the level of others before us. Yet the tests persist. Perhaps we like to think only about our own challenges, living oblivious to what others endured. Life here always comes with tests; it’s only their severity and changing nature that are different.
We all want to endure them and wait for better days. They come. But after better days come, we find another unwelcome test just around the corner. Look at the grimy faces and other images in the history books of those who have been tested before us. How did they calm their hearts and spirits? What joy could they find?
For all the criticism of Christianity, our Christian faith is important and has been important through all the severe, moderate, and light tests of history. That includes the current one. Where and when our current test will end, I can’t predict. It may grow to something more severe.
Only one thing does not change. The message of God’s love has endured, not just through the tests of the last century but also through all the wars, famines, diseases, and turmoil of all history. We have the peace that calms our hearts and lives. No matter what history brings, Jesus has forgiven us, and we are children of God, dearly loved. God’s love in Jesus is our firm rock, even when God is challenging us to abandon our earthly comforts and concentrate on the greater blessings we have in Christ.
And joy? It’s not an ecstatic, hand-raising, shouting joy. We have a deep joy in knowing God’s love remains steady in our severest tests. We know that his tests are always for our good and designed to purify our vision. We are his, and nothing can take us from him. Christians before us knew what we know from the Scriptures.
So we have peace and joy in God’s love in all our trials and tests. We may lose some things here, but God cannot change. His love stands firm, and therefore our joy and peace also stand firm. With that we can confidently face whatever test lies ahead.
Author: John A. Braun
Volume 107, Number 07
Issue: July 2020