Dear Strand Baptist Family,
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
On Monday, 23 March 2020, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a 21-day national lockdown which will commence at midnight on Thursday. The previously announced state of disaster has already led to the suspension of our Sunday Worship Services. The lockdown means that all other church activities will also have to be suspended until the 16th of April 2020.
How will the lockdown affect our SBC family?
In 2 Corinthians 4:16 the apostle Paul says something remarkable: “So we do not lose heart…” How could he not lose heart? Earlier in the chapter he mentioned being “afflicted” and “perplexed” (v. 8), “persecuted” and “struck down” (v. 9). He even mentioned “carrying in the body the death of Jesus” (v. 10). Paul and his fellow labourers suffered for the sake of the gospel, yet “we do not lose heart”. How was that possible?
Paul had a different perspective on his suffering. First, he understood that God was renewing him day by day. Outward suffering was countered with inward renewal (v. 16). Through his trials the Lord sustained and sanctified him. Later Paul would even say: “I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Cor. 12:9).
Second, he understood that God had something better planned for his children. Paul spoke of “an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (v. 17). Trials put things into perspective. When we remember all God’s glorious promises to his children, the present world and its difficulties are put in their proper place. Compared to the “glory beyond all comparison” our trials are “light” and “momentary” (v. 17).
Third, he understood where his treasure should be. Paul instructs us to “look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen” (v. 18). Don’t lose sight of eternity. Why? Because “the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” Our hope is secure with Christ in glory. Nothing will change that. Isaiah 54:10 speaks volumes of God’s faithfulness in times of calamity: “For the mountains may move and the hills disappear, but even then my faithful love for you will remain.”
These three truths help us to “not lose heart”. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God the Father and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
Because of Christ,
(on behalf of the SBC Executive)