As we no longer have a weekly bulletin and some may miss reading my “Pastor’s notes”, here are some notes that have come out of my personal meditations when I do my daily Bible readings (which I posted on facebook – with a little more detail).
It is quite evident to me that more and more people are getting highly stressed because of the covid-19 situation. This is not a criticism of anyone as I do not know each person’s individual situation, circumstances, and concerns. It is normal to get stressed in difficult and uncertain times. And a worldwide pandemic certainly is one such time.
So, it was helpful to me that part of my morning readings happen to be on 1 Corinthians 10 where we find this well-known verse:
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation, he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
– 1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV)
It’s a verse I memorized in my early years as a Christian to recite as a good motivation and encouragement when I get tempted to do something that I know I should not. As you might imagine as a young Christian in my late teens, I would recite it often especially when a particular temptation seems too strong to resist.
But this time in the light of the covid-19 pandemic and the thought of NZ following in the footsteps of many countries in announcing a planned “lockdown”, I thought of the verse in the context of a test and not a temptation.
Some of you might remember a few years ago (2016) when I did a series of sermons on “Biblical Care of Self and Others” where 2 sermons in the series were on “trials” and “temptations”. The reason I had two sermons on the matter is that the Greek word translated “temptation” (in verse 13, in the ESV) is peirasmos , and it can also be translated “test” or “trial” depending on the context. But the word encompasses both the ideas of both temptation (a more negative tendency), and test and trial (not necessarily a negative tendency).
The choice of which English word to use when translating can be at times difficult.
So that morning, reading that verse made me think not just of my daily temptations but also general trials, and tests in my life, and also how I should personally respond to this escalating covid-19 situation in New Zealand.
One thing that immediately came to mind is James 1:2-4 that reminded me that testing when handled well can build both faith and character.
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. – James 1:2–4 (ESV)
But more importantly, what is highlighted in this verse is the promise of God is that He has set limits on each test we face. There is always a way our if we take the time (in faith) to rely on God.