Perseverance, rest, hope help believers keep focus on God during uncertain times


November 20, 2020


People are growing restless, waiting month after month in this long and disturbing “Meantime.”

Since last March, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought fear and grief due to sickness, the deaths of loved ones, stay-at-home quarantines, closed church and school doors, canceled holidays and social gatherings.

The sudden and unexpected interruption has caused an unhealthy increase in financial problems, spouse and child abuse, stress, depression and violence in homes and cities. We are weary as we wait.

And now, months into the Meantime, we cannot see its end.

We wait in confusion in this Meantime — the hours, days and months that lie between the safety of the comfortable known and the enigma of the unknowable.

As a society, we scratch our heads and ask: “How now shall we live?”

No end in sight 

The Bible reminds us that the Meantime of life is nothing new and tells us how to live during those long uncertain times. According to Scripture, how do we, as Christians, live during the long wait? Scripture encourages us to:

  • Do the next thing. God told the Israelites, captive in Babylon during the decades-long exile (ending in 538 B.C.), to be productive while they waited: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters … increase in number there; do not decrease” (Jer. 29:5–6).

He encouraged them to continue with life, even though uncomfortable, difficult and different, and to do the next thing — worship God, care for family, strive to maintain home and health, minister to neighbors, keep faith and hope.

As His message wisely advised the weary Israelites, so it advises us today: “For I know the plans I have for you … plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jer. 29:11).

  • Rest your body. After a wicked Jezebel threatened Elijah’s life, the scared prophet ran away, prayed to die and did not stop until he reached Beersheba. God led Elijah to the shade of a broom tree, put him to sleep and sent an angel to give him food and drink. There, he rested.

After a time of rest and physical renewal, Elijah was ready to step back into the hard work of active ministry (1 Kings 19).

Let us use this pandemic-pause to rest and refuel our bodies, emerging from our lengthy Meantime with physical renewal, ready to step back into the hard work of active ministry.

  • Be expectant and productive with hope. When suddenly our plans for tomorrow come to a standstill and we must enter a time of quarantine, we are given time to stop and think.

For Christians, this is a good time to turn away from the meaningless, temporary pleasures that have crept into our lives and to deeply contemplate all things eternal.

Ecclesiastes tells us that God has set eternity in our hearts (3:11). We are spiritual beings who need God. How often the frantic activity of life drowns out His gentle whisper. Prayerful solitude, confession of wrongdoing and close communion with Christ revive tired hearts.

Facing isolation

Noah, Moses, Job, Joseph, Daniel, Jonah, John the Baptist and others in Scripture faced the frightening Meantime. Before beginning His public ministry, Jesus spent 40 days and 40 nights in isolated wilderness — waiting (Matt. 4:1).

The long Meantime of harsh imprisonments gave the Apostle Paul needed time to pray, listen intently to God and pen life-giving letters to early Christians. While exiled on Patmos, John produced the Book of Revelation.

Meditation and prayer

When we turn to God in meditative prayer, pondering His promises while studying His Word in the quiet solitude of our souls, we grow spiritually.

In our waiting, we become productive, somewhat like the expectant mother waiting for her child to develop cell by cell in the secret place. She waits contented, knowing that deep within her, something miraculous, though unseen, is happening. God is at work creating a new life.

In our waiting, we become productive, expectant with hope as we trust God in faith.

The writer of Hebrews tells us that “faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Heb. 11:1).

In this time of weariness, fear, grieving and waiting, may we internalize Paul’s words to the early Roman Christians: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 15:13).

May we embrace this confusing Meantime, trusting in God and knowing for sure that, even now, He is at work in our lives.

 

EDITOR’S NOTE — Denise George is the author of more than 30 books and teaches The Writing Minister workshop.


By Denise George

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