IN TIMES OF AFFLICTION AND FEARS
by Edmund Chan
“Be extra careful and vigilant.”
“Avoid crowds and handshakes.”
“Wash your hands often.”
“Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.”
“Wear your mask.”
These are common advices, in view of the contagious Coronavirus infection.
My wife, Ann, and I are assessed as staff-at-risk because of our frequent travels, being in confined spaces onboard planes, multiple conferences and crowds. Moreover, we are from Singapore, which is a hotspot on DORSCON Orange alert right now.
So, in the current situation, if I were asked to offer just ONE counsel, what would I say?
Here’s what I would say:
“Stop worrying about STAYING ALIVE – be more concerned about LIVING THE LIFE!”
“Not to worry about staying alive” does NOT mean that we are to be reckless. Rather, it is a statement that is undergirded by two important convictions –
- That being worried and being careful are two entirely different things. There is no use worrying. However, there IS a responsibility (and wisdom!) to be careful. They are two different things.
- That there’s more to life than mere existence. Jesus said, “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.” (Luke 9:24; Matt 16:25; Mk 8:35).
As a Christian, faced with a societal condition of fear and uncertainties, we ought to shine as light – with a message of HOPE!
And to efficaciously do so, we be grounded afresh in an eternal anchor – the Word of God! For the Word of God is our solid foundation in any crisis!
In this light, Psalm 119 is highly instructive about God’s Word. Evidently, there are MANY things that one could say about Psalm 119. I simply want to highlight JUST ONE.
Psalm 119 is NOT composed by a happy man, basking in the glory of achievement, for an audience of self-satisfied listeners basking in the achievement of glory.
Rather, it is written by a godly man in pain, for a likewise confounded audience; that in the shared existential reality of distress and disequilibrium, they might both discover the power of an Eternal Anchor in the joy of God’s abiding Word!
Here’s how I come to this conclusion:
Observe the numerous times when the psalmist pulls back the curtain of his life to reveal the raw vulnerabilities of his pain.
For example – “My soul melts away for SORROW; strengthen me according to your word!” (v28).
“This is my comfort in my AFFLICTION, that your promise gives me life.” (v.50)
“Before I was AFFLICTED I went astray, but now I keep your word.” (v.67)
“It is good for me that I was AFFLICTED, that I might learn your statutes.” (v.71)
“For I have become LIKE A WINESKIN IN THE SMOKE, yet I have not forgotten your statutes.” (v.83)
“I am SEVERELY AFFLICTED; give me life, O LORD, according to your word!” (v.107)
“TROUBLE and ANGUISH have found me out, but your commandments are my delight.” (v.143)
Can you SEE it? That EVEN in the crushing vulnerabilities of his painful world, the godly psalmist anticipates the VICTORY in God’s powerful Word!
THERE IS HOPE. For there is GOD!
And God has spoken through His Word. Therefore, we will NOT be defeated in our afflictions, if we ABIDE IN GOD’s WORD!
“FOREVER, O LORD, your word is FIRMLY FIXED in the heavens.” (Psa 119:89)
In spite of his painful AFFLICTION (and deep uncertainties), the psalmist points to the POWER of an Eternal Anchor for his troubled soul – God’s undefeatable Word!
An Eternal Anchor for life’s existential pains. That’s what Psalms 119 is all about!
So, in the midst of this Coronavirus affliction, which reminds us of our vulnerable mortality, stop worrying about STAYING ALIVE – be more concerned about LIVING THE LIFE!
The implication of this for leadership, discipleship, and evangelism is great. And the need and opportunity to live it out in our present circumstance is even greater!
Let’s then be rooted afresh in God’s mighty Word – and live for what really matters!
Greetings in the mighty name of Jesus!
Thanks for sharing Cha!!