Renowned boxing promoter Don King said, “You can't find anything better than boxing because of the trials and errors, the ups and downs, the struggle when you get knocked down to get back up. Use it symbolically and interchangeably for life.” Charles H. Spurgeon said, “Trials teach us what we are; they dig up the soil and let us see what we are made of.”
For many people in the US, the crisis related to COVID-19 feels like a boxing match. Many are getting knocked down by the virus, while others are getting knocked down by the ensuing economic crisis. People are protesting for state governments to lift the shelter-in-place order for things to get back to normal so they can get back up, financially.
I read the story of a woman in Texas who works as a Lyft driver. The stimulus money was deposited on her account by the IRS. However, all the money was taken from her account by a creditor she owed. Her attorney tried to get the money back; however, the creditor refused all requests for leniency.
Many Americans are starting to get very anxious as the current economic crisis worsens. The longer this crisis drags on, the more desperate people will get. That desperation will inevitably add pressure to an already battered economy, with over 29 million people looking for employment.
Yet, in today’s text, we are encouraged to be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer. The only way to be joyful in hope as COVID-19 devastate our health and economy is by trusting in God. The believer needs to know that “The righteous person may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all” (Psalm 34:19).
It is that blessed assurance that will enable believers to be patient in affliction. That is not an easy thing to do. No one wants to go through affliction patiently. We naturally want storms to pass through quickly. Yet, if we allow affliction to run its full course, we will reap a harvest of joy. For, “hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny” (C. S. Lewis).
We should be patient in affliction because “The Lord is near to brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18). Our God keeps us company as we go through the valley of the shadow of death. He is a God who stands with us in the fiery furnace and the lion’s den. Therefore, we can stay the course in our spiritual journey and be patient in affliction as we wait for the deliverance of the Lord.
Someone told me this morning that many Christians are struggling with depression as they struggle with the impact of COVID-19. My response is that we should encourage our brothers and sisters to stay the course until the Almighty brings sunshine to their stormy skies. We have to remind one another that our God can do more than we can ask or imagine, and trust that though we may be struck down by COVID-19, we are not destroyed.
Lastly, the text reminds us to be faithful in prayer. Prayer is our best survival mechanism to make it through the crisis related to COVID-19. We should pray when things are good and when they are bad. Prayer should be lifted up without ceasing on behalf of all. The more we pray, the stronger we get in our resolve to stay the course. Then we will be able to be joyful in hope, and patient in affliction.
Prayer- Blessed Lord, please comfort those that are depressed and hopeless. Give them the blessed assurance that you will deliver them from their afflictions.