A young lady that used to attend our church wrote to me recently and very kindly asked if I could encourage her as she was feeling very low as a result of this pandemic. I wrote her back a brief pastoral letter which I am happy to share here in the hopes that it may minister to others experiencing similar needs:
Hi there dear sister (name removed), so nice to hear from you. I’m with you in feeling a little low today. I think that is ok. This is hard and it is complicated because we don’t really know whether it is justified or useful. We know so little about the virus, so we may find out 3 years from now that the lockdowns were not effective – or we could find out that they saved thousands of lives. Right now, the difficulty is compounded by our inability to tell whether our sacrifice is virtuous. One hates to feel that he or she is simply wasting time. However, as believers, we know that God is Sovereign. That suggests at least 3 things that bring comfort to me.
#1. There is a REASON for this.
God has ordained this suffering for a purpose. It must be intended for some good. Not necessarily “good” in terms of my short-term comfort, but “good” in terms of God’s glory and the salvation and sanctification of his people. Whether I get to see that good or not, I believe it will be accomplished in God’s perfect timing.
#2. There is a LIMIT set for this.
COVID will not crush me and it will not crush his people. God matches his strength to ours when he challenges us. He allows us to be pressed but not crushed. He supplies strength in measure to the trial. So I am not worried that his true people will be overcome or fall irretrievably into despair.
#3. There is a FUTURE beyond this.
This is not the end. Jesus told us that there would be various earthquakes and upheavals prior to his coming. These things would destabilize the world and encourage men and women toward humility and contrition. They would serve to separate the sheep and the goats. They would prune and refine the church. But these events are not the end – they are table setters only.
The end is when Christ returns.
The end is when all evil and all causes of evil are rooted out of the earth and cast into the eternal lake of fire. The end is when the heavens and the earth are cleansed in fire and a new heaven and a new earth begins with all those who delight in the Lordship of Jesus Christ. That is the end. And it lasts forever.
I imagine that 10 million years into our new lives in that glorious world we will struggle to remember COVID. If we do it will be only to be thankful for how it reminded us that life is short, relationships are precious, worship is a gift and eternity is forever. We’ll be able to see it then for the mercy and the kindness that it was.
Even still – come Lord Jesus!!
Bless you dear sister.
We’ll see you soon.
Pastor Paul Carter
To listen to the most recent episodes of Pastor Paul’s Into The Word devotional podcast on the TGC Canada website see here. You can also find it on iTunes. To access the entire library of available episodes see here. You can find his personal blog, Semper Reformanda, by clicking here.