Currently our country, and even the world, is concerned about the spread of the Coronavirus.
Every day we receive updates regarding its impact. Although the majority of the infected reside in China, worldwide there have been over 100,00 reported cases and over 3,400 deaths. In the US there have been 233 confirmed cases and 14 deaths.
The concern over this disease has put some folks in quarantine. Caused travel plans to be canceled. And literally left some folks stranded at sea.
In the meantime folks around Nashville and Cookeville, Tennessee, are digging through the debris of the March 3rd Tornadoes that ripped through their communities destroying homes, businesses, places of worship and claiming the lives of least 25 people. Dozens more are still reported missing.
However, I wondered how many have suffered sickness, heartache and loss in the past week? Whose home has death invaded suddenly and unexpectedly? Or learned of a loved one who suffered a heart attack? Or has been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer? Somewhere there are mothers and fathers in hospitals right now fighting for their lives. And children who are suffering from disease. Or neglect. Or abuse.
The names of the hurting are unknown to the general public and news media. Their stories untold. Their cries unheard. Their suffering unalleviated. But their pain is real. Their hearts are heavy. And their emotions are drained.
How do I know these things? Because life is filled with pain. Suffering. Sickness. And death. Every day somewhere relationships are ruptured. Spirits are disquieted. Souls are distressed. Hearts are broken.
It reminds us of Job’s reflection in the long ago. “Man who is born of a woman is few of days and full of trouble (Job 14:1). How true it is.
So what is the answer? How do we cope? Where do we turn when adversity strikes?
Here are four suggestions based on Biblical teaching.
(1) Live in God’s Presence. James said, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” Jesus promised “I am with you always even to the end of the world” (Mt 28:29).
When we suffer adversity, we can know that we are in the presence of God. What a great encouragement, comfort and consolation.
Once a man accusingly questioned, “Where was God when my son died?” The answer? The same place He was when His son died. If you feel forsaken, Jesus knows how you feel. God is not a spectator of our pain. We are in His presence.
(2) Learn from God’s Promises. The Psalmist affirmed that God would be with us. That he is “our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble.” God promises help. Comfort. Hope. He says, “I care.” And I will care for you.” (I Pet. 5:7). He feels our pain. And will supply our every need (Phil 4:19).
(3) Lean on God’s Power. When Sennacherib, king of Assyria invaded Judah, the king stood up and said. “Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid nor dismayed before the king of Assyria, nor before all the multitude that is with him; for there are more with us than with him. 8 With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people were strengthened by the words of Hezekiah king of Judah” (2 Chron. 32:7-8).
Finite strength is undependable and expendable, but God’s infinite power is sufficient for every challenge. Indeed we are “kept by the power of God” (1 Pet 1:5).
(4) Look For God’s Purpose. God’s purpose is not to make you miserable. Paul said to “rejoice in the Lord.” God does not send pain, problems and pressures. God is the giver of good gifts. (Jas. 1:18)
So why does adversity strike?
Maybe it’s because of the evil of other people. Sometimes it is the result of living in a world that is filled with sin, suffering and separation. It could be through our own poor choices (Gal. 6:7-8). Maybe the Devil is trying to trap us (1 Pet. 5:8). Furthermore, we live in a world where natural calamities occur. And as the wise man observed “time and chance happens to them all” (Eccl. 9:11). And honestly sometimes there are no answers.
So what is God’s Purpose for me in adversity? To walk by faith and not by sight (2 Cor 5:7). To Use adversity to make us stronger (Jas 1:2-3). To focus on the eternal plan in Jesus (Eph. 3:11). To claim victory through his love, grace and mercy (Rom 8:30-31). To comfort, encourage, and minister to others who are suffering (1 Thess. 5:11; Gal. 5:13; 6:10).
We all will suffer adversity in this life. Sometimes extreme tragedy will befall us. Yet, whatever the trial or trouble, there is help. There is hope. There is God.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman