Joy of the Good News in a Bad News World
The joy of the Good News in a Bad News World
Through Christ, we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Romans 5:2-5 (ESV)
The Coronavirus pandemic gives rise to fear among people as we are bombarded by daily negative reporting from news sources. It’s hard not to succumb to a negative outlook. Is there no way but to try to hold our faith together as best we can and wait until we hear something good in the news?
The Apostle Paul didn’t wait until the Roman Empire issued some good news. That wouldn’t come until three centuries later when Emperor Constantine issued the Edict of Milan and legalized Christianity. And that was not all that good a news, if you know how corrupt the Church became.
No, Paul didn’t wait for some good news from the Roman Empire; he already had some good news, some really great news, the best news ever issued in human history.
This is why Paul could rejoice in spite of the sufferings he (and all Christians) endured as an illegal religion under the oppressive Roman Empire. (We feel the heaviness of the daily death reports of COVID-19.) Paul felt the grief of the countless reports of Christians being persecuted. Paul himself would be arrested and beheaded for his faith in Christ.
Paul did not fall prey to fear and despair. He had the greater reality of the love and grace of Jesus Christ in his heart and there was no room for fear, no space for despair, no place for self-pity.
He goes on to state what seems impossible – we can rejoice in our sufferings. We know that suffering is No Fun. Paul is not saying it is! He is saying that he’s looking to the greater things that come with our faith in Jesus Christ, who suffered death and triumphed over it for us. With our faith in Jesus Christ we can triumph and grow in our endurance, character, and hope, a real hope that will not disappoint us. Suffering can bring the best out of us!
We see this kind of positive faith in our brothers and sisters who come out to hospitals at the shift change to show their gratitude for our medical professionals, and to pray for them. We are grateful for all the wonderful people who keep our health services available, as well as keep our food supplies continuing, our grocery stores open, our cities protected, our basic laws enforced, and our nation defended. We have to be so grateful to live in a country that has been blessed by God with the freedoms we enjoy, including the most precious of freedoms, the one freedom that is the foundation to all our other freedoms, the freedom of religion. We can rejoice in the Lord!! We have so much for which to be grateful.
Let’s not let the evening newscast determine our outlook on life. Let’s look to our Lord Jesus Christ. Let’s ground our lives in the triumphant Risen Lord who defeated all disease and ultimately death itself!
I believe that we who trust in Jesus Christ feel a greater sense of urgency to take our faith more seriously. We are more vulnerable to disease and death than we like to believe. We’re not permanent residents on this planet. We’ve got a limited time as Christians in this life. Therefore, let’s redouble our efforts, not only to live out the good news in Christ in our communities, but to share the good news when we’re asked the serious questions of our friends who are searching and making a real effort to find credible answers for the meaning of life and the problem of suffering. There’s great joy in sharing the good news of Jesus Christ!
May you feel this great joy in all the days ahead of us during the battle against the Coronavirus.
In Christ Alone,
–Pastor Jim and Debby Riley