I am writing this post at the peak of the Covid-19 virus in America and finishing up a paper on the church history for my class at HBU. While writing on the persecution of the early church, I was encourage by their response to challenging times.
During the period of the early church at the height of the persecution of Christians in the Roman empire, Emperor Galerius in 311 ordered the cessation of the persecution. It had been a failure, and had merely hardened Christians in their resolve to resist Roman pagan religion. At the peak of the suffering, Christians were hardened in their resolve. James 1:2 – 4 tells us “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” We are all in the midst of a trial. It may be relations at home, uncertainty about the economy, our finances, fear of the virus or simply boredom. It has been my prayer that Christians around the globe will rise up and recognize this trial as an opportunity to conform us to the image of Christ and be “that light” that attracts, inspires and proclaims the joy we have in knowing Jesus. In this brief period of time, may we harden in our resolve to resist fear and proclaim the Joy and hope we have in Jesus.
I have been praying that God would use this pandemic to do a great work through the Holy Spirit to call individuals and our nation to Him. We entered this pandemic at the time of the passover. A little more than 3,000 years ago families were sheltered in their homes with their families praying that the plague would pass over their homes. For the first time since then our world has been ordered to shelter in their homes with their families while a plague goes through our world. We are all familiar with the verse from 2 Chronicles 7:14 “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” How did the nation of Israel get to this point of praying, seeking God and turning from their wicked ways? The preceding verse (13) says “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people,” It is during times of trouble that people return to God or seek Him for the first time. We have been watching the worship services of Passion City in Atlanta Georgia online during this time of social distancing. Today the pastor mentioned attendance had increased as much as 50X during this pandemic. I consider it all Joy to go through these trials knowing that the testing will conform us more to the image of Jesus. I also consider it all Joy to know that these trial are being used by God to call His people back to Him. Join me in praying for revival in our nation and world.