Editor’s note: At the end of each month, the editorial team shares a brief wrap-up of how that month’s content encouraged and challenged us. This month, Hong Kong pastor Alex McCoy shared what he is learning from the Chinese church.
Hong Kong is currently experiencing a large wave of COVID infections. Having pursued a mostly successful ‘dynamic-zero’ policy for the first two years of the pandemic, the current outbreak has some experts predicting half of the city will be infected by the end of April.
This surge makes many of us much more aware of sickness than normal. You begin to notice a slight headache or a tickle in the throat and think, “Could this be COVID? Am I infected?” You could be taking all the right precautions and avoiding too much contact with people, but the slightest symptom gets you worried. So you do a rapid antigen test, and you wait those anxious few minutes until the line appears next to the ‘C’, and you breathe a sigh of relief.
Needless to say, a proper diagnosis matters. When you think something is wrong with your body, you need to know what you are dealing with. And that works for our spiritual life too. The right diagnosis of our symptom matters for the correct treatment.
A symptom of a deeper malaise
At the beginning of March, Shu Yu reflected on Psalm 16. He described the situation for many in China: “Perhaps our uncertainty lies in our political environment, in the disturbances of the pandemic, in spiritual weakness or health problems, or in the temptations of Satan. Wherever our uncertainty, we are often trapped in worry and frustration.” Worry is a frequent response to our circumstances, a reality acknowledged in many of the posts during March.
Would You Pray With Us Today?
Worry is a symptom of the deeper malaise in our heart. It’s evidence of something that threatens God’s rule in our lives. The antidote to worry is worship. In worship we lift our eyes away from our difficult circumstances to behold the sufficiency and glory of our God. Worship is not a denial of our difficulties, but a proper recognition of God’s rule over all things and his love for us despite our sins.
As Shu Yu points out, worship was how David chose to respond to his fears. For us, this side of the cross and resurrection of Jesus, we have even more cause for praise. “Through Jesus, every suffering and every difficult situation becomes another opportunity for us to, in faith, draw on the riches of God’s grace. Jesus Christ is our God, and in his ‘presence there is fullness of joy; at [his] right hand are pleasures forevermore.’”
The ongoing treatment
Having turned our gaze back to God, how do we continue to walk forward in faith during these difficult times.? The reflections this month provided a range of helpful observations.
We should expect difficulties. Moreover, faithfulness to Jesus will often lead to persecution. Reflecting on 2 Timothy 3:12, Simon wrote about how persecution is not optional for Christians. It’s an inevitable and even necessary aspect of living in a sinful world.
Nicolaus observed that our difficulties and trials can be blessings from God. Reflecting on Psalm 66, God uses trials to refine his people, prompting obedience and dependence. Therefore, instead of causing worry, our difficulties can lead to praise, as we hold on to God more firmly.
We will sometimes be hard pressed, as our brothers and sisters in China often are. We take encouragement from their example of turning their eyes to Christ, and fixing the anchor of their hope upon him.
Alex McCoy joined St. Andrew’s Church in January 2010 as its Senior Minister. Originally from the U.S., he lived for a time in Jakarta, but has spent most of his life in Sydney. Alex is married to Megan and they have three boys.
FOR PRAYER AND REFLECTION
Pray for God to open our eyes that we may properly see and diagnose the issues we face in our spiritual lives.