In 1854 London was facing a cholera plague. People were dying everywhere. Folks were afraid to go home and afraid to go out. In their fear they cried out for help and took measures for safety. In the middle of this, a minister named Charles Spurgeon continued to go about faithfully ministering despite his own fear and weariness. One day Spurgeon was feeling physically fatigued and spiritually discouraged, in his words: "I felt that my burden was heavier than I could bear, and I was ready to sink under it.” Coming home from a funeral he happened upon a paper in a tradesmen’s window which his curiosity led him to read. There he saw in good, bold handwriting these words: “Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the Most High, thy habitation; there shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.” (Psalm 91:9,10). In his words,"The effect upon my heart was immediate. Faith appropriated the passage as her own. I felt secure, refreshed, girt with immortality.”
While not to the level of cholera, COVID-19 or coronavirus, has certainly come to America and is changing lives. As Christians, we believe in the God that Spurgeon experienced through Psalm 91. We have absolute trust that He is in control, that He is good, and that we can trust Him with our lives, our retirement accounts, our education - everything! I know that believing this is not always easy, God knows that too. His invitation is to lean on Him, to recall the presence of the Spirit and to practice our faith., In some ways it is like we have all gone to faith's gym and we have the opportunity to lift our “faith” weights as we actively put our trust in Him.
Though social distancing may keep us from gathering as a body, let me remind you that there is no distance between our God and us as His people. He knows our frame, He remembers that we are dust. He watches over us so that not a hair falls from our heads without His knowing. Let us both individually and collectively remember to draw close to Him in these days; to draw our strength and our hope from Him, even when all else may seem grim.
One final note, again from Spurgeon during the cholera epidemic. Times like these try the faith of the believer, but for the unbeliever they are terrifying. If this life is all that one has and it is threatened, that is frightening. Spurgeon recounts an encounter with a man who had often opposed him as a minister of the Gospel. Spurgeon’s words, "That man, in his lifetime, had been wont to jeer at me. In strong language, he had often denounced me as a hypocrite. Yet he was no sooner smitten by the darts of death than he sought my presence and counsel, no doubt feeling in his heart that I was a servant of God, though he did not care to own it with his lips.” We may be jars of clay, but we have a treasure. May God give us opportunities to share it.