Like me and I am sure you will agree, it has been an extremely challenging & difficult time, since our State President, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, announced the nationwide lock-down three weeks ago. Today would have marked the end of the lock-down & have no doubt, many of us were looking forward in eager anticipation to this day, when our lives would have returned to some sort of normality.
However, that was not meant to be until last Thursday when our State President addressed the nation by giving an update on the coronavirus and announced a further two week lock-down extension.
For the majority of us, I suppose the question going through many of our minds was how were we going to keep enduring until the end of April? And, what’s more, not knowing what the future will hold for us individually but also as a nation? One thing is certain and that is the world has never been the same since December last year when the first outbreak of the virus was reported in Wuhan, China.
As we begin Day 22 of the lock-down, I would like us to focus our attention on one verse of encouragement to help us keep enduring in our relationship with Jesus. Paul says in Romans 5:1-5 “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (5:2) Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (5:3) Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that our suffering produces endurance, (5:4) and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, (5:5) and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
By speaking about justification, Paul is referring to our secure standing as believers in Christ because of what He has done on our behalf, through his death & resurrection. The result of our justification means we not only have peace with God but also rejoice in hope of the glory of God. In other words, we are looking forward to that great & glorious day when we are at last with our Lord Jesus in eternity.
Until then, we continue living in a horribly dysfunctional world, a world filled with pain, suffering and death. And, Paul says we must rejoice in our sufferings. This may sound a little crazy to our ears & Paul does not suggest in any way that God takes pleasure in watching His people suffer when going through trials or hardships. When going through times of suffering, Paul’s point is as horrible as our present suffering is, it is producing endurance, so that we may become more and more like Christ.
Friends, these words of Paul could not be any more pertinent today than it was when he first wrote them. The coronavirus has caused untold damage around the world both socially & economically. The daily message we are hearing from the World Health Organization & local Government is to keep our distance from one another, practice good hygiene & stay at home. As helpful as this is & we are separated from meeting with our church family as we regularly do, the wonderful news of the gospel is no-one or anything can separate us from the love of God, not even COVID-19 and it is this wonderful truth that will help us to continue enduring until He returns or calls us home.
In closing, may God help us by His Spirit to continue enduring in our relationship with Jesus knowing that our present sufferings are making us become more and more like Him.