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While we have been hemmed in on all sides with all sorts of undesirable news in recent times, I am never in doubt that we remain more than conquerors through Christ who loves us. “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9). Not only do we all now know someone who has succumbed to the overwhelming effect of the Covid-19 disease, we have been personally touched and affected by its most devastating effect, death. It is hard these days to go through a day without learning about someone whose life is lost to this disease. The reality of the effect of this disease weighs heavily on many of us. Yet we wake up daily, pick up our mantle and move on. Surviving and functioning in these climes is not by anyone’s power but only by the grace of God.
If one would be very honest, it is difficult to hear about an illness in this season and not think about death. We think about the rate at which folks are being separated from their loved ones and the fear of death grips our souls. Yet, for us Christians, death is meant to be our liberator from this world of sin and, as Apostle Paul puts it, death is not capable of separating us from the love of Christ. As we ponder on these things, we realize that men of old have gone through even worse sufferings and they continued to be held up by their faith. Apostle Paul talks about what he called “the sufferings of this present time” (Romans 8:18 – NKJV) and in the face of the suffering declares that he anticipates a greater glory. We are obviously going through a lot now either by getting struck with the disease or taking care of those had been struck or by grieving those who have succumbed to its most devastating effect. Friends have passed, siblings have passed, parents have passed, and some have even lost their children. How are we responding to this threat on our peaceful existence? How do we respond to this thing that seems to make our lives as unbearable as it can possibly make it?
We must learn from the experience of our foremost Apostle, Paul. In the face of all the tribulations he faced, he declared in Romans 8:37 that “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” We conquer after we have fought a battle. So, when Apostle Paul talks here about being conquerors because of the help we get from our Lord Jesus, the lover of our souls, he was saying that to overcome we must fight as in a battle. It is a battle for our souls and a battle for our ways of life. The battle shall be won but we must, like those who go to battle, be ready to fight. We cannot deny that the impact of the virus, and its attendant restrictions on the way we live our lives, places us under tremendous stress. The effect they have on us and our loved ones seems to be waging a frontal attack on our faith and our health, body, mind, and soul. This is an invasion of Satan and his foot soldiers. Our only recourse is to rise up and fight, because in all these trials we are more than conquerors.
Paul’s words here are both encouraging and challenging. They are encouraging because they remind us that God has indeed given us all we need to live our lives, including in times of trials and tribulations like these. They remind us that all we need to do is keep trusting in the Lord and He shall see us through. Remember, His Word said that “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). His Word tells us He has already made us overcomers. We are already conquerors. Paul’s words should also challenge us as Christians to take the battle to our adversary, Satan. His words should cause us to rise up as warriors that are ready for battle. As Christians our main weapon is prayers. It is time for us to rise up in prayers. We must not set ourselves up as “sheep to be slaughtered.” We must pray and not faint.
We should also use this period of adversities as a time to learn. Apostle Paul told us that “We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame” (Rom. 5:3-5). We shall overcome, no doubt, but we must be prayerful so that when we finally go through, we would not only have overcome but we would have been transformed by His power and grace. We must not waste our trials.
February 28, 2021 – Pastor Simbo Odunaiya