These are trying times for everyone. We can’t see the future and feel powerless over the COVID-19 virus. We are used to having some control over our lives and that seems to be gone. Most of us have lives of trying to cope with problems without the virus; with the virus, life can feel overwhelming.
I am taking care of my 92-year-old mother. The doctor recently prescribed morphine for her because her constant angina wasn’t letting her sleep for more than an hour or two at a time. I’ve been trying one pill, then two pills. If she doesn’t have enough food in her stomach before taking the pill, she gets nauseated and sometimes vomits. I’ve found the solution in giving her a bowl of cereal before she goes to bed; that seems to work the best with one pill at night.
My heart overturns sometimes when I look at my mom. She is so weak and fragile and feels yucky a lot of the time. I wish none of this was happening to her, but I am powerless over her illness.
Each day I pray for God’s strength and he always gives it to me. But last night I watched a video online that showed a woman in her 90s who got the virus and lived through it. I’m so glad she did, but what she described was truly awful and painful. I began to feel deep fear about getting the virus. I’m not afraid of death, but I am afraid of pain.
As I was praying later that night, I was reminded of the many people in the Bible who were close to God and suffered greatly. It felt like the Lord was telling me I shouldn’t expect a life with no suffering; he never promises that. Jesus said, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
When I think of how David was running and hiding from King Saul for 20 years, I can understand why he wrote Psalms of sorrow and fear. When I think of Daniel and his friends being taken away from their homes and families in Jerusalem and made to be slaves for the king of Babylon, I think of the long journey there. They were forced to walk for miles and miles before they arrived. Perhaps they saw their parents and siblings killed when Jerusalem fell. Their faith in God was surely tested.
Jeremiah and Isaiah both suffered greatly because they spoke out for God. They did what God asked them to do yet were jailed. Jewish history says Isaiah was sawn in half by King Manasseh. Jeremiah was hunted down and hated by the rulers of Jerusalem. It is only because of the king’s mercy that he stayed alive until the city fell.
In the New Testament, the disciples of Jesus were persecuted and all died from murder except John. Paul writes about the Thessalonians who had all their property taken away because they became Christians. Thousands lost their lives to different emperors of Rome.
These are some of the sufferings of Paul that he wrote about in 2 Corinthians:
In my frequent journeys, I have been in danger from rivers and from bandits, in danger from my countrymen and from the Gentiles, in danger in the city and in the country, in danger on the sea and among false brothers, in labor and toil and often without sleep, in hunger and thirst and often without food, in cold and exposure. Verses 26,27
…in harder labor, in more imprisonments, in worse beatings, in frequent danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked. I spent a night and a day in the open sea. Verses, 23-25
For myself I can say, I don’t really know what it is to suffer like Paul. Still, I have my own sufferings and I know God sympathizes with me; he walks with me through my sufferings; he gives me strength to bear up under them but he doesn’t always take them away.
I believe Jesus is returning very soon. If that is so, the COVID-19 virus is only the beginning of suffering at this time. I was reading Isaiah chapter 24 this morning and came across the condition of the world at the time of the end: 4-6
The earth mourns and withers;
the world languishes and withers;
the highest people of the earth languish.
The earth lies defiled (polluted)
under its inhabitants;
for they have transgressed the laws,
violated the statutes,
broken the everlasting covenant.
Therefore, a curse devours the earth,
and its inhabitants suffer for their guilt;
therefore the inhabitants of the earth are scorched,
and few men are left.
Jesus said in Matthew 24:21-26 For at that time there will be great tribulation, unmatched from the beginning of the world until now, and never to be seen again. If those days had not been cut short, nobody would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, those days will be cut short.
At that time, if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There He is,’ do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders that would deceive even the elect, if that were possible. See, I have told you in advance. )
So if they tell you, ‘There He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.
In Daniel 12:1-4, it says “At that time Michael, the great prince who stands watch over your people, will rise up. There will be a time of trouble, the likes of which will not have occurred from the beginning of nations until that time. But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered.
And many who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake, some to everlasting life, but others to shame and everlasting contempt. Then the wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness will shine like the stars forever and ever.
But you, Daniel, shut up these words and seal the book until the time of the end. Many will roam to and fro and knowledge will increase.”
One of the best things Jesus said was, “Don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have itself to think about. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34
I heard something online today that made me smile. It was, “I am not a strong rock, but I stand on one.” Amen to that.