“And now, again, is the minister’s time; and now is the time for all of you who love souls. You may see men more alarmed than they are already; and if they should be, mind that you avail yourselves of the opportunity of doing them good. You have the Balm of Gilead; when their wounds smart, pour it in. You know of Him who died to save; tell them of Him. Lift high the cross before their eyes. Tell them that God became man that man might be lifted to God. Tell them of Calvary, and its groans, and cries, and sweat of blood. Tell them of Jesus hanging on the cross to save sinners. Tell them that, “There is life for a look at the Crucified One.” Tell them that He is able to save to the uttermost all them that come unto God by Him.”
Now is the time for those of us who love souls. We may see people more alarmed than they had already been. If so, do them good, tell them of Jesus.
The above words sound like they could have been shared from any of this weekend’s pulpits to the faithful gathered in their homes across the country, as many churches opted for online services in midst of the current pandemic. Would you believe this statement was actually spoken more than 150 years ago by Charles Spurgeon during the cholera outbreak?
While it may seem like now is not the time for many ordinary aspects of life, with various closings and adjustments being made across the country, it is the time to trust in the Lord, draw near to Him, and love others.
When things seem uncertain, remember He is our Rock.
The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Psalm 18:2
When the future is unknown, remember He holds all of our tomorrows. My times are in your hands…Psalm 31:15
When things seem to change and then change again, remember He remains the same. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8
In other words, now is the time to draw upon what – and Whom! – we know to be true! Now is the time for our roots to sink deeper into His love and for us to continue to grow in Him! “Let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness” (Colossians 2:7).
Now is the time to draw near to the Lord, to continue to worship and pray to Him as well as time to be in His Word and hear from Him.
While we may need to “distance” ourselves from one another, we need not isolate. We must not isolate! Now is the time to stay connected with other believers. Share prayer requests. Reach out to someone who will point you to the Lord and His Word if anxieties threaten to steal your peace.
Now is also the time to love. For those we live with and with whom we will be in even closer quarters, let us remind ourselves of 1 Corinthians 13, verses 4-6:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
Finally, now is the time to shine. Through the cholera outbreak of Spurgeon’s time, they found people were more open to the Gospel than before. They saw ministry opportunities increase! In a time when fear and anxiety were rampant, the Lord used His people to share the life- changing hope that can only be found in Him. While we see greater limitations and restrictions placed upon us daily, we must remember that HE is not limited and He certainly is not restricted! Let us keep our eyes on Him! While we are in unique times, let us seek Him for the unique opportunities that will be around us and use them for His glory! Whether it is watching children who are home from school for a neighbor, grocery shopping for the elderly, engaging in encouraging conversation and planting the seeds of God’s love with strangers (every place I go, strangers are talking more!), live-streaming church service into your home so that those who usually don’t “go” to church with you will hear the message, the opportunities are endless!
For these reasons, the growth we can expect to see in our own walks as we look to Him and choose to trust Him, purposefully seeking opportunities to edify one another within the body of Christ, and choosing to love and serve those around us as the Holy Spirit guides and enables each one of us differently and uniquely, we can rejoice in the times to come. Only by His grace can His people say in the midst of a global pandemic that, “Yes, now is the time!” Now is the time to “Rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances,” recognizing that this is God’s will for us in Christ Jesus, as His grace abounds to us and in us.