The spring and summer of 2020 have presented unprecedented life challenges for me, in addition to neighbors, church members, extended family and the world at large.
Everything from simple, everyday annoyances to heart-wrenching tragedy has caused people to look for divine help to just “get us through this.”
For Christians, “getting through this” means trusting God through faith.
Some may ask: But what are the step-by-step practices that give comfort and guidance during these hard times?
What can we tell a friend whose faith is weak? How do we encourage a student or Bible study group? How can we be an example of full reliance on God?
We are born relying on other humans. For most, our mother provided the first comfort, safety, food and love. Without these, we would not have survived.
For most, though not all, a father gave us safety, guidance and strengthening love.
For those in Christian communities, our pastors and teachers provided wisdom, knowledge and the practical matters needed to live successfully.
Now during a pandemic, we may be separated from parents, adult children and the close fellowship of the church. To whom can we turn?
Many of us find solace in prayer, listening to the inspiration of music or spending time talking by phone with a friend.
We call, text and use computers to schedule virtual meetings. But deep in our soul there is only one lasting comfort, and that is God and God alone.
There is a beautiful piece of music (Steve Green, “God and God Alone,” 1986) with the lyrics: “God and God alone is fit to take the universe’s throne.”
If God alone is fit to take the throne, it is good counsel to keep God on the throne. It is when we trust the self-reliant counsel of the world that pressures of a pandemic close in on us.
For many of us, time spent in isolation has caused restlessness, which can lead to personal reflection.
We think of those we love and remember family and friends from the past. We are grateful for God’s protection and provision.
Time for reflection is good, but it can lead us to dwell on personal failures. We missed the mark and are weighed down with regret.
For me, the words from Psalm 62:5 give comfort and peace. “My soul finds rest in God; my hope comes from God.”
Resting is to cease striving. We can rest because striving to redeem ourselves is ended.
Our best testimony is to confess that Christ did the work for us, giving us spiritual and emotional rest.
As we believe this truth, we can rely on God and God alone to relieve the restlessness of striving.
Along with restlessness, there is fear. We cannot deny the reality of job loss, depleted bank accounts and the nagging fear of infection and sickness.
Common questions include these: “What can I do to protect myself and my family? How will I be able to pay rent? How will I pay my employees?” The list is endless.
God reminds us in Psalm 32:8, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go. I will counsel you and watch over you.”
This has been a personal promise for me over the years as I struggled with decision-making. Jesus himself promised to walk beside us and teach us his truth.
In trying times, Jesus promises rest (Matthew 11:28-29) as we seek his guidance and follow his example.
In the Psalms, we have many promises God is our one true eternal hope.
In the New Testament, the writer of Hebrews wanted the reader to gain a more mature understanding of God’s unchanging nature to guard and protect.
Hebrews 6:19 declares, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”
As children of God, we can be anchored in the firm foundation of biblical truths, godly counsel and daily disciplines with God alone.
Relying on God is dependent on personal faith. All through the Bible, we are asked to believe. Jesus is the best example in how to trust God.
Jesus’ work, ministry, relationships, worship and prayer life give evidence of faith and trust. Because Jesus Christ is the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2), we have the promise of a faith perfected in Christ.
Jesus is our example, and we all need a good role model to show us the way. Following Jesus’ example is the very best way “to get through this” dreaded pandemic.
Associate professor emerita in education East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina. At Oakmont Baptist Church, she has served as deacon, choir member and on the Sunday School Council. Having served on mission teams to Moldova, Brazil, Belize and Nicaragua, Brown has a special love for tutoring immigrant children living in her community.