For many of us, the past several weeks have been a whirlwind of worry, frustration, and emotion. We find ourselves living through a historical event, and COVID-19 may leave a lasting effect on how we deal with daily life -- work, school, groceries. Whether it is a complete overhaul of routine or just a minor inconvenience, we are all going through change, a loss of the normal. We are all suffering.
And suffering, like Pastor Peter Sim said in his sermon, exposes our values, the source of our identity, hope, and comfort. So during this period of suffering, what are we discovering about ourselves? As for me, I have discovered that I am lazy.
Consider this quote from Knowing Scripture by R. C. Sproul:
"We fail in our duty to study God’s Word not so much because it is difficult to understand, not so much because it is dull and boring, but because it is work. Our problem is not a lack of intelligence or a lack of passion. Our problem is that we are lazy."
To add to this idea, I think another problem is that we prioritize our day-to-day tasks based on our immediate needs. During this time of isolation and loneliness, mindless entertainment sounds pretty attractive. We’d rather binge watch a show on Netflix for hours rather than spend 15 minutes in quiet meditation on the Word of God.
One of the most difficult tasks as a math teacher is convincing students that daily practice is crucial in developing skills for mastery, as it is in the case of art or sports. Nobody is born knowing how to draw a convincing portrait or paint an elaborate landscape. Nobody shows up to a championship game without putting in hours of effort and practice. If I am trying to convince teenagers of this about math, should I not apply it myself to matters of grave importance, like reading the Word of God?
Hebrews 12:1 calls believers to “lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Running a race is no easy feat, but sin weighs us down. So how do we find the strength to put aside our sin and to keep pushing forward? I feel that the answer lies in and is the Word.
Fortunately, we have a variety of resources within our reach. There are weekly emails with links to a variety of resources, such as the daily readings, devotional guides, podcasts, and articles. We also have weekly virtual community group meetings and youth meetings. What a blessing that we have these resources to keep us rooted in the Word. We can also make a phone call, write an email, or send a text to one another. As we find ourselves physically apart from each other, I hope we can take advantage of the technology that allows us to stay connected.
Paul wrote his letter to the church in Colossians while he was in prison. He was not with them physically, but he writes “that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:2-3).
It is hard work that requires mindfulness, consistency, and effort. But it is rewarding work, for the mystery of the gospel is revealed to us through the Word. I hope we may all continue to live through this uncertain time clinging to the only thing that is certain: the unfailing love of God. Although we are not together and it is not an ideal situation, may we continue to use the magnificent tools of the modern age to do what the early Christians did -- encouraging one another, loving one another, and accessing the riches in the Word of God.