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hope for churches in stress

Pandemic Year-in-Review

by Adam Forry

This week is exactly one year since the Covid-19 shutdown.

What have we learned this past year about how to respond to hard times? Four observations from our pandemic experience can guide us through difficult circumstances.

Don’t panic or blame. For some people, disasters give yet another reason to blame groups they already mistrust or hate. By contrast, Jesus told us not to be alarmed when we face circumstances that are out of our control; these kinds of things will happen (Matthew 24.5-14). His counsel: stand firm in faith and love, and keep bringing the Good News to the world.

Keep following Jesus. In a crisis, we keep doing what we would otherwise be doing: following Jesus, though perhaps in new ways—as with church services that went virtual. We keep praying (and living) the Christian life: We honor God. We pray and work for his kingdom to come. We trust him for our needs. We receive and extend forgiveness. We strive to overcome evil (Matthew 6:9-13).

Commiserate and care. During a worldwide famine, Christians at Antioch grieved for those whose suffering was worse than theirs. In response, they pooled their resources to assist Christians in Judea (Acts 11:27-30). Like these early believers, good questions to ask in hard times are: Who is at risk? What needs to be done? How can we help? (Romans 12:15; 2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

Consider what is revealed. Amid distress, what do we learn about ourselves? Do we find unexpected reserves of resourcefulness and stamina? Do we give in to complaints, impatience, harsh words, and misbehaviors? Hard times open a window into our hearts; they enable us to take a clear-eyed look at what is revealed—and to do something about it (Psalms 139:23-24; Romans 12:1-2).

Hopefully, this global pandemic is a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence. If so, it is all the more important to take to heart the lessons in faith and love that we have gained in this difficult time. As Pastor Andy Stanley has said, “Pain without gain would be a shame.”

This post is a tightly condensed version of a message by Adam Forry on March 7, 2021. Adam is the senior pastor at Elizabethtown (PA) Brethren in Christ Church. The full message is available through the EBIC website under the title: "The Revelation."


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