Greetings Elam family and friends! To say that a lot has happened since our last newsletter is an understatement. In just a month’s time, the world has been turned upside down with the COVID-19 virus. Fear and panic have set in, stores cannot keep the shelves stocked, and most businesses have temporarily shut down. We are experiencing some hard times! Hard times often define us, and we have seen that this virus has caused mass fear and hysteria. However, as a follower of Christ, we are not to be fearful, dreadful or anxious about difficult times and trials, but instead we are to be joyful. Look at what Jesus’ half-brother wrote, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produce steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4). James calls us to reckon any situation in life, no matter how difficult, to be an occasion of intense joy. I know, I know, that’s hard to do! But we must understand and embrace the fact that the occasion of a trial is a matter of rejoicing, because even in our darkest hour, God is still in control and His purposes will prevail. What others mean to evil, God meant for good (Gen. 50:20). All things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28).
So, with all of that in mind, can we be joyful about COVID-19? According to God’s word, yes. We know that God is in control and if we turn our hearts to God in a time of great anxiety, those anxieties and fears will be calmed by the reassuring knowledge that God is using such trials to refine our hearts and faith to produce steadfastness. Every trial, every test, gives us an opportunity to know God deeper and trust in Him more, and for that we can be joyful. We must turn this COVID-19 situation over to the Master’s sanctifying plan, knowing that He will mature us and make us whole. We cannot focus on the fear, or the trial, but focus on how we can grow in our faith through this difficult time. When this is all over with, will you have grown closer to the Lord through this trial? Will you allow what we are experiencing today to produce steadfastness in your life? Will you trade your fears and anxieties in for joy? The Master is waiting, and He wants to do a great work in your life, showing you through this trial that He is bigger, stronger, and still on the throne. And for that, we can be joyful.
Pastor Jody Bryant