by Stacey McKenzie
“… if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
There are many unknowns as the last quarter of 2020 begins. But what we do know is that we’ve all been interrupted in a profound way from regular routines and pursuits, whether they were noble or base. Wherever we stand on the continuum of faith, what we believe about God is being tested by our circumstances and deferred hopes. COVID-19, politics, natural disasters and gross displays of injustice are converging to bring out the best and worst of our true spiritual condition. Fear is a constant temptation for those of us who aren’t as grounded in God’s promises as we would like to be. I trusted Jesus for forgiveness and my life did change, but can He really take me through this?
This is a time to explore or rediscover God’s timeless Word, which anchors us even as the world seems to be falling apart. A time to refine what we believe about why we are here. A time to commit ourselves to living more for eternal rewards than for temporal ones—for that “holiday at the sea,” rather than anything less.
I find it helpful to remember that what we are experiencing during COVID-19 resembles the discomfort—even the despair—that people on the margins have been enduring all along, even while many of us were more comfortable. The loss of freedom. The lack of structure. A heightened sense of danger. The hovering threat of illness. Insecurity about what will happen tomorrow. Unpredictable friendships. Loneliness. Strife. The pain of lost opportunities. And now, to varying degrees, this volatility is a shared experience. What hope can we, as Christians, extend to the neglected of our society if our own hope falters?
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls (1 Peter 1:3-9, NKJV).
By faith, we are being kept by God’s power through 2020. In Christ, we are moving toward a future that will be more glorious than we can imagine: we will have the gift of His tangible presence, which will prove to be the most valuable treasure of all time. We won’t have to cajole ourselves into praying or worshipping, nor will we wrestle with discouragement. And while we wait, pursuing righteousness and justice, not only is our faith being refined, but we are investing in His kingdom and building rewards whose value will far outweigh anything offered on earth. It will be like the combined Academy/Grammy/Emmy Awards of all time … but so much better!
So, then, resolve to stay focused. Let us be counted among those whose desire for His kingdom to come is strong. “… let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:22-23, NKJV).
- C. S. Lewis, “The Weight of Glory,” in They Asked for a Paper: Papers and Addresses (London, U.K.: Geoffrey Bles Ltd., 1962), 197.
This article appeared in the October/November/December 2020 issue of testimony/Enrich, a quarterly publication of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. © 2020 The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada.