29 March 2020
In our dg study on Daniel 7, we noted that God gave Daniel a vision of the history of mankind, culminating in the kingdom given to the Lord Jesus and HIs saints. What is also clear is that the people of God would suffer persecution and trials before the kingdom is fully established. Covid -19 was mentioned and the sharings covered the subject of anxiety, fear and the loss of control of our lives and circumstances. We generally do not like to feel that we lost control of our lives and situations. But often, trials, illnesses and sufferings cause us to feel this way; sometimes we wonder why God allows such circumstances to take place in the lives of His people.
The christian life is filled with paradoxes: one of this prominent paradoxes is that divine empowerment and growing stronger in Christ has everything to do with knowing and feeling that one is weak. This is in fact what Apostle Paul meant when he declared that “when I am weak, then am strong” in 2 Corinthians 12. We actually grow stronger only by growing weaker. Why so? It is precisely when we are weak that we learn to increasingly depend on God and we experience enabling by Christ Himself through the Holy Spirit.
Practically, it means that we keep on however weak we feel; we keep on even in situations when what is being asked for seems to be beyond us and we keep on in the confidence that this is how God means it to be. For it is only at the point where insufficiency of our natural strength is faced, felt and admitted that divine power and empowering begin.
So the path to power for the christian is humble dependence on God to direct His power to the depths of our beings so as to make us faithful to our calling in holiness and service. With that we depend on God to channel His power through us into the lives of others to help them to move forward at their points of need.
The covid-19 crisis provides such an opportunity for God’s children. Although God may be calling unbelievers to repent when He allows calamities to strike the world, God is at the same time testing His children with regard to the genuineness of their faith, just as gold is refined through fire. Instead of instilling fear, anxiety and depression, God desires His children to rise up to the occasion and trust Him, experiencing His enabling in the face of our weakness and to share the gospel through our words and our lives (and responses).
The pitfall to experiencing God’s power and confidence in such a context and in other similar contexts is self-reliance and failure to see that without Christ, we can do nothing that is spiritually significant. Indeed, divine strength is perfected in conscious human weakness; and illnesses, crisis, persecution and the like provide the very environment for us to experience our human weakness. We must acknowledge that the frustrations, impediments and obstacles we face daily are God’s ways of helping us to see and feel our weakness so that growing stronger in Christ becomes a real possibility for us. However, instead of seeing this clearly, we may become increasingly bitter, with doubts arising, and fears and anger begin to permeate our days and lives.
The Apostle Paul had to live with the ‘thorn in his flesh’ daily; yet, he knew that God’s grace is sufficient for him, even though the thorn remains. Similarly, we must learn that God’s grace is always sufficient for us in whatever circumstances and challenges we face and need to go through. This is indeed a paradox but it is certainly the teaching and revelation of Scripture.