How we respond to suffering as Christians is critically important. It’s not just for our personal benefit that we remain positive in the face of pain and trials. For one, our response lays bare our theological foundations in the faith. We need to ensure we have a sound biblical understanding of suffering to be able to pursue the Christian walk with perseverance. Indeed – it is this very understanding, and the corresponding positive response we can have as children of God, that will draw others to faith – securing for them an inheritance for all eternity. Let us not waste the opportunity that COVID-19 presents to love our brothers and sisters in this way.

Suffering Affects us All

“You will agree with me that suffering is a subject that is a concern of both believers and non-believers. When it comes to this subject everybody is on alert. Everybody has questions as to why suffering has to happen even in the first place. You open your Bible, you look at the scriptures, and you meet a God who is promising deliverance. You meet a God who is promising salvation. You meet a God who is promising healing and miracles. And yet you look in the world all around us and you do not seem to see those promises coming to pass. And then you begin asking questions.

Why Does God Allow such Pain?

We often ask questions like, why would a loving God allow bad things to happen and especially to good people? Why would God allow believers to go through crisis due to hunger, due to accidents, due to epidemics, due to pandemics like this coronavirus that right now we are battling?”

As we stand under the threat of this pandemic, we are for a moment not sure what is really going on. We wonder where is God?

A Biblical Basis for a Positive Response

In 1 Peter 1:13-25 we find Peter giving theological foundations for a Christian response in the midst of trials and suffering. Peter points out especially three things that should undergird our thinking; that should undergird our believing. You are chosen by God, salvation is a process and Christ will return.

“This should give you confidence and hope that the God who elected you before is the same God who made available the means for your salvation. And that the God who has set you apart for salvation and an inheritance that is imperishable will surely see to it that no matter what you are going through, you will arrive at that very place that he has destined for you.

Knowing that God is sovereign and is in charge, knowing that God will finish what he has begun is one reason why believers should continue to hope even in the midst of hopelessness and helplessness.”

3 Ways to Respond Positively Today

How then should we live in light of who we are and what we now know pertaining to our salvation? How do Christians respond in times of trials and temptations, in times of problems, pandemics and persecutions, how are Christians supposed to stand?

“Now, as we look at this passage, I want you to look at the three things that Peter points out that are worthy of your understanding: 1) Keep looking to the future. 2) Don’t fall back and look to old solutions from your past ways of living. 3) Actively live for Christ now – loving your brothers and sisters unconditionally.”

Realise that God has a plan. God has a purpose, and that purpose is for your good.

“When you find yourself in confusion, when you find yourself in situations that boggle your mind, and you don’t understand what God is doing, look to the future. Look to the consummation of all things and realise that God has a plan. God has a purpose, and that purpose is for your good.”

Respond with Love during COVID-19

“Rather than sit at home asking questions like, “why God? Why have you allowed this Corona pandemic? Why are you allowing even Christians to die?” Rather than asking those questions, we should be busy taking advantage of the crisis. Responding to the times and extending the unconditional love of Jesus to many that will be left wondering and marvelling why!

Why God would love them this unconditionally? Why God would love them at a time when things are falling apart?

Point People to Jesus

They will see the Lordship of Jesus in the midst of sickness, disease and death. And they will see beyond COVID-19 to embrace the only one who was resurrected from the grave. The only one who offers hope beyond the grave. The only one who will give grace at the revelation of his coming and his return.

As believers, we cannot afford to sit around and panic and regret and cry and feel confused at why all this is happening

As believers, we cannot afford to sit around and panic and regret and cry and feel confused at why all this is happening. As though we did not know that such is our fallen world where we expect such things. On the contrary, as the elect of God, men and women with a heavenly vision, we are called to stand firm, to be set apart, to have a different response from the rest of the world. To exercise godly fear and reverence.”

Preacher: Rodgers Atwebembeire

Text: 1 Peter 1:13 – 25

Location: recorded at Rev. Atwebembeire’s home in Kampala, Uganda