Since the Coronavirus pandemic struck the world last March, life has brought a series of challenges, adjustments, and the dreaded “c” word—change! Most of us experienced significant lifestyle changes from sheltering in place and ordering groceries online to mask-wearing and the anticipation of an effective vaccine.
During the weeks and months of sheltering in place, many of our people have told me how much this “downtime” has caused them to grow closer to the Lord. They shared how much more time they have been spending reading the Bible, praying, and being aware of the importance of making the most of this unusual situation by spending time with God.
Hearing testimonies of our members who are growing in their walk with God during this pandemic is not something I expected. It was very encouraging to hear, but I expected to hear questions about how long this may continue and how concerned they are about the future. No, they are putting into practice what they have learned in Sunday School and worship and personal Bible study for many years—the truth of Romans 8:28, that “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
Christians have suffered hardships for thousands of years and their faith has been strengthened. It was almost exactly one hundred years ago that our nation experienced a similar crisis as the one we are going through today, the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918. At the end of the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918, these notes were recorded at the annual gathering of the Southern Baptist Convention of 1919:
“At the very time of greatest stress came the epidemic of influenza, and this was perhaps the most far-reaching hindrance to Sunday School work which has been known in a generation…The influence of the epidemic stayed with us through December, but the bright sun-shiny months of the opening year gave reassurance. Our Sunday Schools rallied, business became more normal, conditions improved, and the working force of the Board (now LifeWay Resources) resumed its normal operations. We had anticipated that it would take many months for the Sunday Schools to rally, but they came back in March. There flowed in a steady stream of orders, which indicated that the Sunday School hosts were well organized, full of purpose, and had rallied themselves. As a result, the year, which had been so trying for many months, ended full of hope and promise.” (Annual of the Southern Baptist Convention 1919, pp. 449-450)
God is at work today as He was prior to, during, and after the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918. He “is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). Spend time with Him today and every day to gain much-needed strength and hope for a brighter future.