By: Hope Bolinger
It’s easy to feel abandoned during this time.
When we spend so long in self-isolation and haven’t seen loved ones or friends for months, we may feel as though everyone has deserted us. We may not even consider the possibility that God has shown us anything during this difficult season, let alone love.
Nevertheless, we see time and time again in Scripture that God does not desert us in our greatest hour of need.
In this article, we’ll dive into examples in Scripture where the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe helps and heals those going through great trials.
Then we’ll explore some specific ways he has shown his love for us during COVID-19
How God Showed Paul Great Love through Trials
First, let’s dive into the missionary journeys of the Apostle Paul. On countless occasions, Paul felt abandoned by his friends and other Christians whom he’d ministered to (2 Timothy 4:9-16). Many during his greatest hour of need pretended not to know him or deserted him out of fear for their own lives.
Paul even spends two years in one prison. For those of us struggling with the stay at home orders, we can only imagine being confined for that long, awaiting a hearing for an execution from the Emperor Nero, a Roman ruler renowned for his hatred of Christianity.
Nevertheless, although isolated in a dark, cold prison, Paul continues to trust in the Lord. God gives him time to exercise productivity whilst in chains, and he completed several books that have been added to the New Testament canon in there.
God does not waste the time Paul spends in prison. Those in the Jewish community may have seen him as a waste of talent. He had so much potential, but he threw it away, following after this Christ. But God uses the most difficult of circumstances to produce words of comfort that will sustain Christians throughout church history.
How God Showed Daniel Great Love through Trials
Sure, Daniel didn’t have to stay in one home during his entire several-decade stay in one of the greatest empires the world has ever known. (Although, I don’t imagine he got very far outside the palace walls during his three-year education under Nebuchadnezzar: Daniel 1). But he did have an extended stay away from his true home, Jerusalem.
Torn apart from his family and friends, many of whom likely died in the Babylonian siege of the city, Daniel could’ve given up all hope. After all, his enemies tried to assimilate him to a completely new culture and he lost so much from his old life.
Nevertheless, he trusts in the Lord and gives one hundred percent to his studies, his relationships in the palace, and he truly cares about those around him, even his enemies (Daniel 5).
God does not abandon Daniel. Similar to the story of Joseph, God allows for those in higher positions to see Daniel’s good work and he ascends the social and political ladder. Even though the Babylonians attempt to wipe Daniel of his culture, because Daniel works hard, he winds up in positions where he can have influence over the same decision-makers who tried to eradicate his Israelite identity before.
Finally, let’s talk about Ruth. Her mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and her had all lost their husbands (Ruth 1). Her mother-in-law Naomi gives her a chance to return home. But Ruth does not desert Naomi in her greatest hour of need. Although they do not have the most stellar financial situation, and this leaves Ruth with the task of collecting scraps of wheat in the fields, she continues to truth in God.
In the end, God provides a husband for Ruth to take care of her and her mother-in-law. Known as a kinsman-redeemer, Boaz, Ruth’s husband, spots her in a field and falls head over heels. Even though Ruth and her mother-in-law experience great loss, God redeems their story. Ruth becomes part of the family line of Jesus who would redeem the whole world through his life, death, and resurrection.
The same way God never abandoned these men, but used their trials to grow them and glorify himself, is the same way he is with you! Now, consider these 3 ways God is showing you love during COVID-19.
We may look at these stories and wonder how in the world they can apply to us. After all, Paul, Daniel, and Ruth lived thousands of years prior to us, and none of those three appear to have gone under lockdown due to a pandemic.
Nevertheless, through their stories, we can witness how God not only stays with us during trials but provides a beautiful outcome in the midst and outcome of the difficult seasons. Let’s dive into a few of the ways God is currently showing us love during COVID-19.
1. God Has Given You the Gift of Time
The reader may feel the urge to hold back an eye-roll at this first point. After all, it sometimes feels as though God has given us too much of said gift. But think of all the possibilities we can show the love of Christ through this extra free time he has given us.
First, we can call those friends and family members we didn’t have a chance to regularly connect with. We can see whose needs, physical or mental, we can help alleviate in the name of Christ (Matthew 7:9). Many of our extroverted friends have struggled with cabin fever, and this pandemic has affected the physical, mental, and spiritual health of many. We can all likely name someone in our immediate circle who has contracted the virus, and families right now can use prayers, phone calls, and “I’m thinking of you” texts.
Because we have more time on our hands, use it to spend it with the Lord. As we’ve learned from the miracles of Jesus, such as the feeding of the five thousand, whatever we give to the Lord, he can increase multiple times over.
2. God Has Provided for Your Needs
No doubt, if you were like me the moment you heard about shelter in place, you tightened your belt, you ran over financial numbers for hours, and you worried. I certainly did.
How will I pay for this month’s mortgage? When will I return to work? Can I pay for groceries this week? Will we see an end to this, or will we spend years in this uncertainty?
Nevertheless, I placed these anxieties on the Lord (1 Peter 5:7), and he provided a way to meet these needs. No, I didn’t get 60K richer, and my pantries aren’t overflowing with lux foods. But through the kind hearts of those in my church community, through recipes that made home meals stretch provided by family members, through the love of Christian friends, I saw God answering those questions and anxieties every day.
The Lord did not abandon the Israelites as they wandered for forty years. He gave them manna and quail each day (Exodus 16). In the same way, watch carefully for the manna and quail he has placed in your lives. He may not meet the needs in the way we expect him to, but if he cares for sparrows and the birds of the air, he most certainly cares all the more for us (Matthew 6:26).
3. God Has Given You Ample Opportunity to Love Your Neighbors
It’s the second greatest command (Mark 12:30-31). During this time:
Churches have held online and drive-through services for the community
Ministries and Christians have provided for physical needs via toiletries, food, water, etc.
Christians have provided food and support for front line workers, teachers, high school seniors, and others who have been greatly affected most by the pandemic.
In a time where people have hoarded toilet paper, inflated the prices of baby formula, and revealed true colors of greediness and apathy, we can do the complete opposite. Like the Early Church, we can share what we have with those who need it most, pray for those affected most, and ask how we can lend a hand (Acts 4:32-35).
God doesn’t always answer our prayers how we expect, and often moves behind-the-scenes, especially during a pandemic. But we can see the ways he shows his love for us, even in the minor things like a bag of groceries from a friend or a prayer from our mentor.
And because God has shown his love for us, in turn, we ought to show it for others. Through providing for physical needs and lending a hand wherever we can, we can shine Christ’s light to a world that needs hope and healing.