We are living in extraordinary times. The impact of the Coronavirus is being felt deeply across the world. Increasingly, this pandemic is disrupting our everyday lives and virtually every structure in our home cities and countries. This is a matter of great concern at every level of government and society, yet it is also a very real personal concern for each of us as we feel its impacts socially, economically and even mentally and spiritually.
It would be natural for us to consider the various risks swirling around us and pull back in fear. But while we may each understandably “visit” the place of fear, as the people of God, we must not “live” in such a place.
As those privileged to serve alongside you, we’d like to offer you five reasons for hope as we consider our calling and our posture in this time.
Crisis is not new or unique to this moment in time.
Throughout history, the people of God have been called to live extraordinary lives – especially in times of crisis. We are not exempt from war, famine, violence or disease; rather we have been entrusted with the high calling to live in faith, hope and love when the foundations around us have been shaken. In a very real sense, we have been fashioned by God for such a time as this. He is trusting us to be his witness to a world facing fear and uncertainty. The unshakeable confidence and extraordinary love displayed by God’s people is our unique gift to those gripped by fear of an uncertain future.
We have God’s Spirit.
The Apostle Paul reminded his young and timid protege, Timothy, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7). To have the courage to look outward when everything within us cries out to look inward is possible only by the Spirit of God. We cannot will ourselves to act with power, love or a sound mind; rather, we find these things coursing through our veins only as we surrender to the Spirit of Christ given to us by faith.
We have God’s Promise.
Jesus told us we could expect troubling times. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33). God has further assured us with these words, “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5) These and many other scriptures remind us that God’s love for us is intimate, personal and faithful. We walk together in peace and confidence knowing we are secure in the love of God — whatever the days may hold.
We have a compelling call.
We are compelled by love to fulfill our calling to be light amidst the darkness and to serve the most vulnerable. Love is our enduring motivation and allows us to live out our call in seasons of plenty or want, safety or danger, freedom or restriction, sickness or health. We know that sadly, it is the marginalized and vulnerable who will feel the greatest burden of this disease. Yet our calling compels us to go further, love bigger and give more to reach those who are most in need, yet often forgotten.
We have one another.
Recent conversations with our staff as well as our church partners and individual supporters have been a life-giving reminder of our mutual love, respect and unity. We have experienced the power of shared conviction, calling and values of our global family, many of different national heritage, gender, culture and experience. There is a solidarity that unites us, empowers us and comforts us. Wherever in the world we are, we know we are in this together with one mind and one heart. Our solidarity in this cause gives us hope and keeps us moving forward.
God bless you and your families. Know that we are praying for you each and every day.
Scott Arbeiter retired from World Relief in 2021 as president after serving the organization in various roles for more than two decades and is a former pastor of Elmbrook Church in Brookfield, Wisconsin.