If there is anything I think we can all agree on, it is that this pandemic is hard on people, and the longer it goes on the harder it seems to get. I find myself regularly wishing to see life return to the normal we knew prior to March. Yet, while I so desire that, I have a far greater desire, and that is to see us as believers living in God-honoring ways in the midst of this time. There are two areas in particular that I would encourage us to.
The first is PATIENCE. One of the clear evidences of walking in step with the Holy Spirit is patience. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22–23). Paul’s point in Galatians 5 is to draw a clear distinction between what our life looks like when we are operating under our power (“flesh”) and when we are living out our days by the Holy Spirit’s power.
When the Holy Spirit is leading, we will respond to suffering with patience. Patience can be translated as “long-suffering”. In order to be patient, we must be suffering in some way and over a period of time. While many of us started well, the longer the effects of this pandemic persist, the harder it is to be patient. I don’t know if you are like me, but my natural response to suffering is complaining and griping, and then I explain away my behavior with excuses for why I’m justified in my complaints. But I was not called to my natural response, I was called to dependence upon the Spirit, and that will result in patiently waiting this thing out.
The second encouragement is to SUBMISSION, and particularly submission to our government. “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves” (Romans 13:1–2). This is one of those passages of scripture that I don’t think could be clearer. God appointed every single person in our local, county, state and national leadership. To resist, oppose, or defy that authority is to resist, oppose, and defy God Himself. And if defying God is not a concern of yours, you have much larger issues to deal with than a stay-at-home order.
I know this brings up many questions and what-ifs, but I think context can help with some of that. Understand, Paul is writing this in the context of a Roman Empire that is ruled by Nero, who was the Hitler-Stalin-Mussolini of the 1st century. I don’t want to wreck your day by recounting his atrocities, but the important thing to know is that this man was not a good guy or an effective leader, and it was under his rule that Christians were encouraged to submit because God appointed that guy.
You have probably heard about many individual believers and groups of believers who have chosen to openly defy our government. Each one will give a litany of reasons why they believe the government is making wrong choices. Some will add to that a claim that God is giving them special instructions to openly defy the government. Submission to the governing authorities (wise or foolish, harsh or kind, qualified or inept) is the only God-honoring choice for the people of God. It is really that simple.
I want to conclude by asking you to pray in the way I’m praying for you right now. It is the same way that Paul prayed for the believers in Colossae:
I pray for you and ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. (Colossians 1:9-12)
God bless you in this time, and may God be glorified in and through His people!