For Such a Time as This
Updated: May 6
Elder Jon provides us with words of encouragement and challenge.
From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.
The first time I remember being stuck at home for an extended period of time was during the Blizzard of 1978. We were in the house for days (not weeks like what we’re dealing with now), but it really made an impression on me. I was 5 years old, and this was the first time I saw nature unleash something that was beyond the power of man to control. It doesn’t sound like this storm hit very hard in Philadelphia, but if you were old enough and lived in New England at that time, and even more so if you lived in the Midwest, you remember it. The snowfall was measured in feet, not inches. And it fell so fast that the plows couldn’t keep up, and life came to a standstill.
The next day, I went outside with my father to “help shovel” our long driveway. There’s a picture of me from this time. I’m standing next to the snow with my own little plastic shovel, and my eyes barely made it up to the level of the snow. But there’s a quiet look of dignity on my face, and I was standing just as tall and proud as a short, 5-year-old kid in a snowsuit could stand.
Allowing me to go outside, not only to brave the elements, but also to help fight against the snow was a good thing for my parents to do, and I think it was an important step in shaping my character. It made me feel strong. It taught me a lesson about doing something to stand up to the trouble that life throws at you.
Now did my father need my help that day? I’ve raised a few kids, and I’m here to tell you that 5-year-olds aren’t known for being especially helpful. My shovel was small. I wasn’t very strong. For all I know I was slowly moving snow from one part of the driveway to another. I bet it wasn’t too long before I got cold and tired. I imagine my mother smiling at me while I was inside drinking some hot chocolate, telling her about how “me and Dad shoveled the driveway," while my father was still out there doing the heavy work.
As I look back on this time, I think this is a good picture of what we look like to our Heavenly Father. He needs our help even less than my father needed mine. The work would probably go faster and easier if we weren’t getting in the way, and He could just do it Himself. But He not only lets us get involved, He actively calls us to join Him in the work. Why does He do this? Because He loves us and He knows that it’s good for us. He wants us to mature and be more like Him, and fight against the storms of life, because it strengthens our faith.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
So how can we apply that to this Coronavirus storm we’re in? What has our response been so far, and how should it look different? Are we choosing the option of feeling sorry for ourselves? Nervously checking our phones 12 times a day to see how many new infections have been reported? Waiting for the government to solve everything? Competing with our neighbors to grab all the hand sanitizer and paper products off the grocery store shelves? We’re tempted toward these responses at times, but we know that this isn’t what we’re called to.
SO LET'S REMEMBER THIS. God knew this storm was coming, and if you believe what Acts 17:26 says, He has a specific purpose for YOU being in this storm, at this time and in this place. Even now our Father is at work, and if we’re going to join Him in His work, we need to have an understanding of what He does.
AND WHAT DOES GOD DO? Here's a short list for starters. He PROVIDES for, He HEALS, He PROTECTS, and He MINISTERS to those who are His own, and those who He is still calling into His kingdom. If that’s what He’s doing, let’s join Him! If you spend some time quietly sitting before Him in prayer, He will reveal specific ways He is calling you to work.
But here are a few things you can consider:
Are you feeling scared, lonely, or vulnerable? The best antidote for those emotions is to shift your focus to someone else. Pray for neighbors or church members who are experiencing these same emotions, and when possible, provide help for them in some tangible way.
See that phone in your hand? Take a break from the news and call someone, text them, FaceTime them. Find out how they’re doing. Is it as good as being face-to-face? No. But if we’re purposeful about it, we can have meaningful interactions with others this way.
You know those stimulus checks they’re talking about? Some of us are in a tight spot, and that money will fill a need. But others of us are still working, or still being paid even though we’re not working. Do you know someone in need? How about redirecting some of that money to the mission field?
When you do have to brave the grocery stores, pick up a few extra items for people you know who have a hard time getting out. This not only meets a need, it may keep someone from making an extra trip and risking exposure.
When all is said and done, does God need you in order to get things done? No. Will your feeble efforts compare with what He could accomplish without you? Not at all. But He loves you as a perfect Father, and He wants you to join in His work. What possible reason could you have for passing up on that opportunity?