I am sure that anyone reading this has likely already read a blog post or two about people’s perception, reaction, or meditations on the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, I’m sure there are a number of other posts on this site on this topic. But, I thought it might be worth it to write my own anyway, in case it might serve as an encouragement to someone, as I might be drawn to focus things I see the Lord doing that are different than what others might have focused on.
Over the last month, I have spend a decent amount of time thinking about how Phillipians 2:1-8 and 1 Thessalonians 1:2-5 apply to our current context. (Briefly, for some background on what that context looks like for me, our studies-language and otherwise-have continued online and our development focused work continues to move forward. However, it has been incredibly difficult to spend any time at all with the people we had been sharing our lives with and ministering to, as our local authorities are strongly encouraging people to stay home and we are trying to be submissive to that).
In all of this, we are trying to continue to love others as best we can and contribute to the community in ways we can while focusing on protecting the vulnerable. To this end I have found it helpful to meditate on Philippians 2:1-8, where the Apostle Paul teaches us to focus on Jesus' example of loving others more than self:
1 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,[fn] 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,[fn] being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
I believe that with that posture it is possible to find much Joy, even it troubling times like this.
Second, let’s look at 1 Thessalonians 1:2-5.
2 We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly[fn] mentioning you in our prayers, 3 remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 4 For we know, brothers[fn] loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.
During this global pandemic I think pursuing the labor of love and steadfastness of hope seen in the Thessalonians is especially important. Not being able to spend as much time with people face to face makes the call to WORK to love others especially prevalent. So I have been asking myself the question over and over, “what ways can I labor to love people even in this unique context?”
I hope this is encouraging to someone. Have faith that the Lord is continuing to work even as we love our neighbors by staying inside to protect our communities, and seek out creative ways to LABOR to LOVE people. This will glorify Him who has given us the ultimate example and source of joy and love.
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