1. Accept that we will “have trouble” in this world
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
All nine pastors believed that suffering and following Christ go hand in hand. One shared, “We felt that was normal—we already knew that it was going to happen, we weren’t shocked. If you want to follow God, you have to accept this kind of consequence.”
Though the coronavirus pandemic is of course not a consequence of following Jesus—no one is being targeted by the virus for their faith!—the lesson is important. We must accept that trouble will come to us in our lives—and for those of us who follow Jesus, even moreso. But we do not have to despair; Jesus has already told us we can “take heart” because He has overcome!
2. Let go of our lives and surrender to God’s will
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24)
When the Chinese pastors chose to stand firm in their faith, they risked losing everything dear to them. Their decisions came at great cost: The faced the loss of health, family, future, education and even their lives. They described pivotal moments in their suffering where they had to make the choice to let go of control over their lives and surrender to God.
In our case, we need to understand that God is sovereign. If we find ourselves asking, “Where is God?” the answer is simple: “He is on His throne.” Something like the coronavirus forces us to reckon with reality: We are not in control, but God is. He can bring hope, grace, peace and love to any circumstance—and work through trouble to bring Himself glory. We simply have to choose to follow and trust Him to do so.