This verse says we’re troubled on every side. We’re living in a day when people are troubled on every side. We’re perplexed. Sometimes we don’t know what to do but we’re not in despair. Sometimes we’re cast down but we’re not destroyed.
II Corinthians 4:7-10 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing…the dying of the Lord Jesus…Jesus might be made manifest in our body.
God is with us as we live a life that’s full of change and many changes with the pandemic. God and his word are the only stable things that don’t change. Jesus is “the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever” (Hebrews 13:8). His word is forever settled in heaven. God wants us to cling to him in troubling, changing times. As we sit half a million cells in our body die and then a half million cells replace those as new cells. Our skin replaces itself every month so we get new skin. If we get a cut, it immediately starts to heal. God ordained that we all change. Key to handle changes in the pandemic is getting our focus off circumstances and back on God. He wants us to look at eternal things and look to Jesus, author and finisher of our faith.
II Corinthians 4:16-18 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen…which are not seen are eternal.
Change is a very powerful word. The thought of change brings a lot of emotions. Change has caused us to lose our security in this pandemic. Everyone in the congregation has lost our routine of coming to church Sunday morning, Sunday night, Tuesday Bible study, and Thursday prayer meeting. That’s lost. With the loss are grief and the symptoms of grief. We see in God’s word that his people have always been asked to change. God asks us when we’re saved to get rid of our sins and not to do things we used to, and to live a new life. Jesus is acquainted with our infirmities and grief so he can help us.
Hebrews 4:15-16 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
Jesus went through change. When situations seem overwhelming so we feel downcast and discouraged, we need to come boldly to the throne of grace. God’s grace was the only thing that helped Jesus in his trials and situations. Jesus has gone through every temptation we will ever go through. He experienced all the feelings and emotions we have in our grief.
Hebrews 2:16-18 For verily he took not…the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham…to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For…he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.
One of the first emotions of grief is shock. You can hardly believe it. There’s pain that can be physical pain, right in the chest area so it’s hard to breathe. You may sigh a lot. There can be anger. Many have depression because of the losses. Some feel losses worse because their life revolves around church services that were their main outing. There’s a lot of crying in depression. Some have decreased or increased appetite. Some feel overwhelmed, regretful, and lonely. Some get impatient, have anxiety, feel empty, helplessness, and persistently sad. People have negative thinking, feel worthless and helpless, decreased energy, fatigue and feel slowed down. They have difficulty concentrating, remembering, and making decisions. School children have trouble concentrating when there’s such disruption in their life. People can’t sleep. They’re restless and awake at two o’clock in the morning, then can’t sleep the rest of the night or oversleep and are irritability. Grief shows up in all these attitudes. When a person is in grief, they can’t just wish it away but they live with it every day.
Hebrews 13:5-6 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he…said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee…that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do…
Hebrews 13:5-6 (Amplified Bible, Classic Ed) Let your character or moral disposition be free from love of money [including greed, avarice, lust, and craving for earthly possessions] and be satisfied with your present [circumstances and with what you have]; for He [God]…said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!] So we take comfort …encouraged…confidently and boldly say, The Lord is my Helper; I will not be seized with alarm …not fear or dread or be terrified…
Jesus was a man of sorrow and acquainted with grief. He knows exactly what we feel and how we can have victory. Our feelings may be with us but God helps us with grace to do and act as he wants – regardless of our emotions and feelings. With all his feelings Jesus didn’t act sinfully. He went through situations sweetly with God’s grace like he wants us to do.
Isaiah 53:3-4 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid…our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows…
God wants us to be confident that he’s our helper and strength – no matter what emotions or feelings we have. Some people say this pandemic changes everything but everything hasn’t changed. We still have a home and beds, food every day, and are able to function. Really we’re just too slow to recognize change. God wants us to be flexible and know he has a purpose and can work out his plan. Some say change is for the worse because we judge only immediate results, but there are many good results. Our first online fellowship meeting was watched by 1,800 people (from Mexico, Africa, Ecuador, Cuba, Panama, and all over the United States). We would have never had an outreach like that if the pandemic hadn’t come. God’s purpose and mission is to go to all the world and preach the gospel. He wants us to draw closer to him, to cling to him, rely on him, and come to him for the grace we need. Some say change isn’t what I wanted. Since when is our will the criteria for what is good or best? God never asked what our will was but to crucify our way. Jesus was asking for his way in the garden but then said “nevertheless not my will.” We have to do the same in our situation. Some don’t know how they’ll ever deal with this change. You won’t if fear is working. God wants us to not fear but be flexible and do what he wants.
Moses died after the people wandered in the wilderness where there were many changes. When the cloud left the tabernacle, they had to pack and move. They were directed where to go and what they ate. They complained about God’s provisions. God is testing us to make sure our heart is right, that we’ll be thankful – not like them. We can’t allow this pandemic to hinder our testimony for God. He’s going to have a tried and tested people. He wants us to draw closer – to be willing and pliable. The Israelites mourned 30 days in a period of grief. Joshua was with Moses for 40 years as his right hand man so Joshua was in grief. God’s mission and purpose for Joshua was to step in and lead the people into Canaan.
Deuteronomy 34:7-9 And Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died…And the children of Israel wept for Moses…thirty days: so the days of weeping and mourning for Moses were ended. And Joshua…was full of the spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid his hands upon him: and…Israel hearkened unto him, and did as the Lord commanded Moses.
Joshua 1:1-2 Now after the death of Moses…Lord spake unto Joshua…saying, Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to…the children of Israel.
It’s appropriate to mourn when you have loss. There’s a time when we can’t let it keep us from doing God’s mission. God told Joshua it was time to move and not be stuck in grief so he could do God’s mission. He had to get up to lead the people no matter what he was feelings. God specifically instructed Joshua twice to be strong and have a good courage. If you’re in grief, God is telling us in our situation to not be discouraged. He wants us to call on him for grace to get through our emotions. If we don’t meditate on the things of God, we’ll meditate on things the enemy puts in our mind.
Joshua 1:5-9…as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Be strong and of a good courage …divide for an inheritance the land…Only be thou strong and very courageous…do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded…that thou mayest prosper…This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night…then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and…shalt have good success. Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither…God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.
God wants those around us to see a different reaction and that God is in us. We’re different than the rest of the world; different attitudes and different demeanor. God wants us to run and hide in him as our strength because he’s our only help in trouble. We have lots of feelings in grief. God wants us to depend on him in everything and come boldly for grace to help.
Psalm 46:1-3 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed…the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled…