Life is tough: a fact that many of us comparatively prosperous Christians in the West have too easily forgotten.
In that sense, Covid is a wake-up call, reminding us of the reality of suffering in a broken world. But it is also an experience from which we must learn. As we continue to endure the pandemic, what are some of the things the Lord might want us to learn? Here are three possibilities:
In the first place, we cannot sing in our services. Our mouths are covered by masks. Might it be that our voices are silenced so that we might hear the voice of God more clearly? Has our singing become too focused on musical performance, and are too many of the words in our songs banal?
It’s not all about me
Secondly, we are reminded that church services are not about our personal preferences. Too often is heard the cry, ‘I don’t like it with face masks’ and ‘It is not the same’. Indeed; and both are true. But when has corporate worship ever been about our own comforts and wants? Perhaps these temporary inconveniences remind us that it has always and only ever been first and foremost about the Lord – and not primarily about ourselves.
Finally, perhaps the pandemic is a preparation for the greater persecution in the West that is to come: the time when our pastors and ministers are imprisoned, when our websites are shut down, and preaching Biblical truth is deemed offensive and made unlawful.
Richard Sibbes, the Puritan, said: ‘Christ’s work, both in the church and in the hearts of Christians, often goeth backward that it may go the better forward…. We learn to stand by falls, and get strength by weakness discovered; we take deeper root by shaking.’ May this be true for our churches in this day.
Photograph: Anna Shvets.