(An open letter to my brothers and sisters in Christ)

Dear brothers and sisters,

As you will know from experience, the last two years have been turbulent times. From the spread of the COVID-19 virus across the globe to the response of governments, life is far from what it was before the pandemic.

Some of you have suffered the hardship of losing your job; others have been prevented from holding their loved one’s hand as they breathed their last breath. Some have faced domestic violence from a family member, while others have been led to despair due to isolation from the outside world. There’s no question that this is a messed-up time. 

For others, fear of contracting and spreading COVID-19 has consumed your mind. You’ve been painstakingly committed to hearing the NSW Premier’s 11:00am press conferences and you’re constantly refreshing the NSW Health website to keep on top of the latest regulations. COVID-19 seems to dominate your thinking from the moment you wake up till you fall asleep. Some of you may even be feeling paralysed by fear.    

As your brother in Christ, I want to say that I love you, and that while I may not understand the depths of your heart and struggles, we both know the God who does. And as such, I want to draw you to three biblical truths that will be an anchor for your faith during this time of trial. 

  1. Cast your anxieties upon Christ 

Though you may feel you are suffocating under the sea of life’s worries, know that you have a God who meets you in your distress. Rather than turning you away in your fear, the Lord Jesus welcomes and calls you to cast your worries upon Him.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)

Unlike the unbelieving world around us, we aren’t alone in our anxiety. Our God understands us completely, loves us unconditionally, and understands the struggles of our hearts better than we do! 

While fear and anxiety are realities of life in a broken world, God calls us not to be consumed by them, but to bring them to Him. Brothers and sisters, our Saviour is not only capable of bearing our yoke — He is willing to, and He will receive your burdens with open arms.

2. Do not fear, for Christ is with you

Life east of Eden is far from perfect, and COVID-19 is a reminder of this fact. The recent pandemic has reminded us of an important reality: none of us are in control. While we like to think we can govern our own lives, our environment, and the world around us, the reality is that these lie outside of our dominion. 

When we lose control of our lives, it’s easy to be consumed with fear. This is a natural response to realising we aren’t sovereign, and that some things are beyond our power to change. In these circumstances, God reminds us of these wonderful truths:

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

God’s command to ‘fear not’ includes not fearing our circumstances, not fearing our future, and dare I say, not fearing COVID-19. How is it that we can live without fear? It’s only possible because the Lord is our God, and He will be with us through the challenges of life. 

We must resist the temptation to live in constant fear, like the unbelieving world is doing. Instead, know that the King of Kings is in complete control, that He is with us, and that He will never forsake us.   

3. Remember that you belong to Christ’s church

After participating in ‘Zoom church’ for over a year and living in physical isolation, it’s easy for some of you to begin to see yourself as separate from the body of Christ. It’s easy to forget that you — as a Christian — are a member of Christ’s household.

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:12-13)

The great temptation during this time is to become comfortable retreating in isolation. And let’s face it, living life alone is far easier in some respects — we aren’t challenged to love those who are difficult, we aren’t required to bear the burdens of others, and we aren’t sanctified and rebuked for our own sinful behaviours. 

O, that God would cause our hearts to grieve over the fact that we are not meeting with God’s people. That we would realise just how much we are missing from not gathering as Christ’s church. For just as a coal will dwindle and wither if left out of a fire, so our faith will dissipate if we try and live the Christian life alone. 

Conclusion

My brothers and sisters, I write these things to you because I am concerned for your soul, and ultimately because I care about you. As the unbelieving world loses its mind in fear of COVID-19, my prayer is that Christ would strengthen us to remain steadfast and stand as lights in a dark and hopeless world. 

I remind you of these gospel truths because I know I need them as much as you do.  Our confidence to live without fear lies not in government press conferences, mainstream news updates, or in lower case numbers. Brothers and sisters, our hope is in the sovereign Lord of all who has promised to hold us fast till the very end. 

Your brother in Christ,

James Jeffery