We live in uncertain times! We heard this buzz phrase thousands of times in this season of COVID-19. Still, there is truth in it. Everything seems uncertain, except for the stress we face, the financial difficulties, and the daily reports and promises. We all feel it in one way or another, some more deeply than the rest of us. The isolation from some things leads to overexposure to others. The unexpressed grief of some reflects on others as well. It is a difficult time.
At times like this, however, we need to remember that every moment of our life is a gift from God. We all exist in Him and for Him. The Coronavirus may have opened a new chapter in our lives, but it does not define us. It has changed some of our habits, but not who we are deep inside. Somehow, the difficulties we face always tend to bring out our true colors. Honestly, the colors I have seen are not all bad at all.
You Are Not Alone
Oh, yes, that’s another catch phrase in this COVID-19 year. But think about it a little more seriously, because it, too, has some truth in it. In our trials we are definitely not alone. Not so much because we share the challenges with others, although at least in part that is true as well. Among people we still find inequality, injustice, abuse, and a host of other problems. But we find many demonstrations of solidarity and unselfish care as well. It is a mixture of good and evil. But where can we find that daily strength that we need? Where can we find the assurance that no matter what happens we are still all right? Where do we find the ultimate reality of this statement, that we are not alone?
We look around, seeking to find glimpses of kindness, and expressions of unselfish care in the midst of COVID-19 and other crises. Too many, however, do not even realize that in doing so we are actually looking for an expression of the image of God in us. Ultimately, the very reason we even know what kindness and love are is that we are created in the image and likeness of a God, who is love.1
While sin may have distorted that image, it did not erase it completely. What our progenitors decided to take was not the tree of evil, but the tree of good and evil.2 This simply means that even today we still see around us manifestations of that image. We see it in the expressions of kindness, and in the unselfish giving of oneself for the benefit of others which is true love.
Take His Yoke Upon You
No, we are not alone. Primarily that is because the God who created us has not abandoned us. He is very present in our challenges and in our pain. That is thanks to the fact that He actually took our sufferings upon Himself for us. His presence, however, is not as a spectator. He is actually the protagonist, and we have the privilege of being at one with Him. In His presence, He redeems even our suffering, and gives it purpose and hope.
Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.Matthew 11:28-30
The burden is no longer ours, for He took it upon Himself. He made it easier for us to carry our share, for we are not alone in it. Please, notice, however, that in order for us to take His yoke we first need to take off our own. Yes, we have yokes of our own doing, and it is only when we take them off and put them down in faith that we will be able to take His yoke instead.
The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.Romans 8:16-17
We all experience challenges, trials and suffering, and COVID-19 is no exception. We are all vulnerable. That is a fact. But it is also a fact that the way we experience our trials is very different when we are in Christ. In Him we have an important choice.
We Have a Choice
In all of our challenges, Coronavirus included, we have a choice. We are affected by that ancient choice of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. That is a choice we have all participated in. But the Lord, in His presence, has given us another choice. We can choose good and avoid evil as we nurture our communion with Him.
When the opportunity arises, chose what is good. Every expression of good is an expression of the image of God in us. Honor Him and His presence. How? The answer is simple and easy to understand, but impossible to follow without His presence in us. We cannot love as we should, for love is a giving of ourselves for the benefit of others, and our human nature is a selfish nature. The Lord gives us the ability to do what would be impossible for us through the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.Romans 5:5
What would be impossible for us, to love in the same way God does, is made possible through His presence. He pours His own love within us, so we can express it toward others. The key is participation and surrender, allowing God to express or manifest His presence in and through us.
Acts of Kindness and Acts of Love
Being kind to one another and serving one another expresses the renewed and restored image of God in us. It shows our true colors as Christians, and speaks louder than any word. COVID-19 or not, we are called to manifest the presence of the Holy Spirit in us. We are to express His attributes in love, with joy, promoting peace. Every time we chose to extend patience and grace we chose the good side rather than the evil side of that ancient equation. Whenever we serve someone we show God’s goodness in us, and His gentleness toward others.
How do we express our choice? Choosing what is good and what is godly! We do so by saying no to the selfishness of our human nature. We take our stance as we say no to enmities, strife, jealousy, envy and any other self-centered behavior. And we show our true Christian colors as we chose to express God’s love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Every act we choose either leans on the good side of that ancient tree or the evil side. Love, a voluntary giving of ourselves for the benefit of others, is the basic nature of the good side. Selfishness and self-centeredness is the basic nature of the other side of that tree.
Let Your True Colors Shine!
I mentioned at the beginning that in this COVID-19 time I have seen good colors that show the presence of the image of God. These are the colors of those who have placed others ahead of themselves. They are the colors of those who have volunteered to serve in the medical field, those who helped the needy, those who served courageously in stores and factories. The list could go on, but you know what I mean.
I mean you, when you chose to reach out to the friend in need. When you called someone in isolation to cheer them up. I mean all of you who learned to endure a prolonged proximity with less than perfect people and even show patience and grace. That’s when you let your true Christian colors shine brightly. That’s when you preached the real nature of the gospel: that God loves your neighbor as He loves you.
So, let our Christian colors shine! Let the presence of the Holy Spirit be manifest in and through all of us. For as we trust in Him for all that we need, we are made free to attend to the needs of others. Let’s make sure this COVID-19 crisis turn into a shining moment for all of us.