I recently read an article from a well-known publisher titled “Christianity Offers No Answers About the Coronavirus” that a fellow believer shared, joyfully even, added to my heartbreak of our response to these times and our witness. We are not left with only patterns of lament from psalmists and prophets. As believers, we are gifted with much more to hold on to and reach for during times of trouble.
Being a child of Yahweh and a follower of Jesus, there is much joy and comfort in knowing that when searching for answers, no matter how novel the situation, there are principles, truths, grace, and hope in God’s Word for us. There is a special comfort in the words of Jesus for us.
So, here are three passages of Scripture containing quotes from Jesus that give light to these uncertain, if not dark days we are all sharing:
1. Don’t Worry
“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing?
Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!
Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:25-34).
Don’t worry about your body. Jesus says that to you and to me. Right now! We ought to be good stewards of this body He made for us and be wise with how we expose ourselves and our loved ones. But worry is not wise or profitable. So, when we are tempted to worry, this is a good passage to have memorized.
I have two immune-compromised loved ones. I desperately don’t want them to get COVID-19. When we were told to shelter at home except for necessities, we did. Not out of fear, but because our authorities told us to and we saw the logical evidence suggesting it was a small act of personal sacrifice that could “flatten the curve” and thus protect many.
We ate what was left in the pantry and didn’t go out (except my husband to the office when necessary). Yesterday, supplies were very low, and I had a necessary meeting, so I ran errands “down the hill.” In one store, in particular, I could feel the anxiety of the store workers. I even talked to a couple of them who basically said this was an excessively stressful time for them all.
I wondered if a fellow employee had come down with the virus, for this one store to have so many obviously concerned workers. I prayed for the people I passed and also prayed the Lord would guide me and protect me while I was out. And while people, covered in masks and gloves, emptied shelves, so that there had to be a rationing of an increasing variety of items, was not a particularly easy experience, I wasn’t worried.
As Christians, this is a really important time for us to be careful and wise, but also have the grace and truth of Jesus’ message, “Do not worry” welled up and overflowing out of our lives. And we don’t worry, not because there’s no reason for concern. We live out “Don’t worry” because we know the One who gave us that instruction for life is also the One who has given us Life itself, spiritually and physically, and that we are His. That is a very safe place to be — regardless of how that unfolds in our circumstances.
Also, from that same beloved passage of quotes we are told to not be concerned about economic uncertainties — and my goodness, we are all concerned about our health and the economy these days — we can pray and search for wisdom to navigate these times, but we also need to be aware of letting worry rob us. These times we are sharing are ripe with opportunity to grow in Jesus’ words about worry and for our witness to mature as well.
2. Remember Who Is on Board with You
When He got into the boat, His disciples followed Him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being covered with the waves; but Jesus Himself was asleep. And they came to Him and woke Him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing!” He said to them, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm. The men were amazed, and said, “What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?” (Matthew 8:23-27).
Jesus promised to never leave or forsake us (Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5-6) this includes our current storm of COVID-19 and economic waves. He is with us in this moment. Yes, sometimes it feels to us like He is sleeping, or the waves splash salty in our eyes and we are disoriented for a bit while we clean our perspective. But through all of this that comes to us, we can take hold of the grace that comes in the truth that God is indeed with us. With you and with me!
3. Be Intentional about What Harvest Comes from Your Life
“Hear then the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away.
And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty” (Matthew 13:18-23).
These are days that may hold affliction for us. Scripture records so many life testimonies tested through affliction. They are examples for us and serve as ways we can mentally prepare for the tests of life. No one sends their kid unprepared to take SATs or finals. God has not left you without preparation for these days either. But we can all agree, this preparation might require intentionality, effort, some quiet study, and prayer.
What Does This Mean?
When this epidemic broke out to become a pandemic, I turned to Scripture. I looked up words that took me to passages about illness. I gathered into my heart the possibilities of what the Lord might be doing but also, most specifically, how He might want me to respond. I turned to passages about testing and prayed them over my life, my family and my church family, that we would come through the testing refined and brighter for the Lord.
These words of Jesus about the harvest, about how the Word interacts with our life, are words I pray regularly over myself and my church family. I pray that we wouldn’t take His word in temporarily, but that we would have deep roots and bear a hundredfold harvest to the Lord’s glory and our shared good.
To be sure, God’s word holds much more than all this for His children in these times. Let us pray to be diligent gatherers of His words for us, for soft hearts, and to bear a hundredfold harvest from the grace and truth of His word, especially in these times we now face.
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April Motl is a pastor’s wife, homeschool mom, and women’s ministry director. When she’s not waist-deep in the joys and jobs of motherhood, being a wife, and serving at church, she writes and teaches for women. You can find more encouraging resources from April here and here.
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