Everyone goes through struggles. Covid-19 brought about a new kind of trial or challenge with the restrictions and confinement that came along with it. This pandemic brought physical, financial, emotional, and spiritual turmoil to the forefront of our lives.
In 2 Corinthians 12:7, Paul is not facing a pandemic but he has a very real challenge, “So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.” Paul had a thorn in the flesh. It brought physical, emotional, and spiritual turmoil. Paul became a better man of God because of it.
I heard someone joke that the “lock-down” of Covid-19 will make us “a chunk, a hunk, a drunk, or a monk.” I found it humorous, but there is a deeper aspect involved. When struggles come, how do we handle them?
Some people drown their sorrows in “comfort food.” They binge-watch a TV series while emptying the cabinets. Being locked down during the COVID did not help their waistline. Philippians 3:18-20 warns, “For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” The phrase “their god is their belly” is very strong and can be very unsettling. It challenges me.
Some have taken advantage of the “downtime” by exercising. Instead of putting on the pounds, they have focused on getting healthier. This is good, but 1 Timothy 4:8 reminds us, “For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” Being healthy is important, but our identity and satisfaction in life should not come from the mirror.
It is sad to realize that this pandemic has become an excuse for people to escape their problems with some “controlling” substances. The Bible has a lot to say about the abuse of alcohol, but there are other drugs that often take one down the wrong path. Ephesians 5:18 commands, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit.” Proverbs 20:1 adds, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.” Chose the Spirit over the spirits.
Finally, during a quarantine, there is the choice of turning to Jesus. James 1:2-4 says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” It seems odd to rejoice over difficult times, but they help us become stronger. Trials can deepen our faith. They can be used to give hope to others who have not turned to the Lord.
I am not asking you to become a monk, but a daily focus and commitment on the Lord is the answer to a full life of meaning, value, and purpose.