Tennessee Tornadoes Leave 25 Dead and Dozens Missing…America’s Deadliest Tornado Outbreak in Nearly Seven Years…COVID-19 Pandemic…1,373 Confirmed Coronavirus Cases in Tennessee…
A combination of these words and headlines have undoubtedly been a part of your daily readings and conversations for the past month, and for good reason. Families and friends are grieving, isolating, and starting over from scratch. Life looks a little different for a lot of us these days. But, as believers, we understand that events such as these are a result of the fallen world in which we live. And, without minimizing how catastrophic both events have been and will continue to be,
We should neither let them blind us to the truths we know in Christ nor allow them to deter us from the hope that we can only find in Him.
Okay sure, that’s easy to say. But, how do we truly find hope in the midst of these situations? And, what does it look like in real life? It’s important to remember that the way in which we endure our troubles matters and that they will not last forever. The apostle Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, “Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So, we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
It is easy for us to become angry and afraid when we read the news or find that the current state of events in our area have affected those we love. Maybe we want to blame God or maybe we want to justify these situations as some form of punishment that God has inflicted on our world.
But, what if God is simply concerned with how we are handling what is being thrown at us? He has never promised us an easy road through this life, but He has always promised to walk with us through all of life’s trials.
We can choose to view the trials of this life as part of our sanctification process; however, if we are only focused on the problem in front of us in our panic-ridden state, we are going to miss out on the hope that would allow us to see clearly the opportunities for personal growth and for the advancement of God’s kingdom.
So, here are two interdependent ways that we can find hope during this time:
1. We must be prudent in our humble efforts.
We can make intentional strides to prevent and slow the spreading of coronavirus, as well as help our neighbors who have been affected by the recent tornado. We should do what we can with our God-given wisdom and knowledge, such as properly washing our hands, maintaining appropriate physical distance, quarantining as necessary when symptomatic, walking alongside those who are hurting, and giving our time, efforts, and financial assistance to those in immediate need. Jesus gives us this command, and we can humbly follow it: “Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. By this, all people will know that you are My disciples” (John 13:34-35).
2. We must choose to see beyond what is directly in front of us.
God does not allow suffering for no reason. His goal is to always make us more like Himself. We can rest, knowing that we have done everything humanly possible to contribute to the cause. Not only have we have tried to look at the bigger picture, but we have turned our gaze towards Him. Psalm 121:1-2 says, “I lift my eyes toward the mountains. Where will my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven, and earth.” God doesn’t expect us to handle these situations on our own, nor does He expect us to handle everything perfectly. As C.S. Lewis writes in his book, The Screwtape Letters, “If only the will to walk is really there, He is pleased even with their stumbles.” God just wants us to give all that we’ve got as we keep our focus set on Him.
The struggles that we are facing with the coronavirus outbreak and the tornado aftermath are tragic and difficult, but we know that God can truly empathize with us and that He truly cares how we feel. However, if we were always guaranteed unlimited happiness and security in this world, then we would never understand the need for God. In his book, The Problem of Pain, C.S. Lewis reminds us,
“Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.”
Though we will never find perfect happiness or safety on this earth, we can rest knowing that we are being prepared for such a place. And, until we reach that place, we can enjoy the glimpses of hope along the way.
—Brittany Hodge, Editorial Volunteer