Every situation is an opportunity to trust God, and every relationship is an opportunity to love with Jesus. Every day is filled with opportunities. If unbelief and idolatry lurk within us, then they will take hold of us as we go through trying events and as we encounter uncooperative people, and they will hinder the flow of faith and love through us to others. In contrast, if faith and love reside in our hearts, the various situations and the people God puts in our paths each day provide a stage upon which those divine attributes may be displayed. I want to encourage you not to miss those God-appointed and God-orchestrated opportunities to reveal and glorify Jesus Christ. These are the days that the Lord has made (Psalms 118:24). His purpose to glorify Himself in them never changes.
In the present COVID-19 crisis, people are tempted to panic and worry, and then they react to others under the influence of that spirit. They expect everyone to be caught up in the same craziness and darkness that they are feeling. However, believers in Jesus who recognize the opportunity in this time to reflect Christ—His faith, wisdom, peace, and love—will shine like the sun in comparison. They will be breaths of fresh air and sources of welcome refreshment and encouragement to many who need it so much. How can we be among those who reflect Christ in the light, and not among those who panic and worry in the darkness of uncertainty? Consider the following stories as encouragements to walk in the light of Christ, free from anxiety.
Peter, a young man I met in January[?] at Global Challenge Expeditions, spent two months in China with three of his GCE friends. They traveled around the country with Jesus. Their goals were to discover what God was doing in His church and to encourage the saints. They left China the day before travel out of the country was banned. Peter said that the underground church, in the province where the coronavirus first broke out, seized the opportunity to reach out and love others in Jesus’ name. When the government quarantined the city of Wuhan, hundreds of thousands of people were stranded away from their homes, both outside and inside the city.
At considerable risk to their own security, the underground church exposed themselves on social media and offered refuge to anyone who was in need. They opened their homes, offered food and shelter, and of course, shared the gospel. They believed that God would protect and provide for them. They felt respect and concern for others, and in faith, they did not succumb to fear of the virus. God has used the COVID-19 outbreak to grow His church in China! These Christians didn’t miss the opportunities that God provided through the crisis. They boldly relied on Him for the courage to minister and speak in the name and power of Christ for the spiritual and physical benefit of many.
It is really only through storms that we learn to trust Jesus in this life. Therefore, each storm we experience is jam-packed with opportunities to display the faith of Christ, by trusting that our Father, who loves us, has allowed the storm so that He can glorify Jesus in and through us. Our brothers and sisters in Christ didn’t miss the chance to show the love of Jesus to one another and to strangers.
God never misses an opportunity to love, even when others do. In the greatest example of this truth that I can think of—when He sent Jesus to save His people from their sins—the nation of Israel missed their most important opportunity to trust in God and love Jesus. But that didn’t stop God from glorifying His Son. In Acts 3:13-15, Luke recorded Peter’s profound understanding of God’s purpose in giving Jesus over to the men of Israel. He overruled their fears of losing their positions and their nation, and He carried out His amazing plan to save His elect through the death and resurrection of His Son.
“The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant Jesus, the one whom you delivered and disowned in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release Him. But you disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, but put to death the Prince of life, the one whom God raised from the dead, a fact to which we are witnesses.”
What was Peter saying? In effect, he was saying that when Jesus was being accused and abused, the Jews had an opportunity to trust God and love Jesus, but they failed to take advantage of it. Instead, sin took advantage of its opportunity in them, and incited them to put Jesus to death. However, in this most horrific event in history, God didn’t miss the occasion to glorify Jesus. In fact, it was His eternal intention to glorify His Son through their unbelief and rejection of Jesus, by raising Him from the dead. Astounding!! God takes every occasion, especially those that Satan means to harm and damage people, and turns it on its head so that His Son is glorified and His people are strengthened. We can actively look for ways to participate with Him in His bold and amazing works, “making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:16, NIV).
This passage from Acts 3 occurred because Peter and John didn’t miss the opportunity to trust and love when God put the lame man in their paths. Surely they had passed up the opportunity many times previously. Luke writes,
“And a man who had been lame from his mother’s womb [he was 40 yrs. old at the time of his healing] was being carried along, whom they used to set down every day at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, in order to beg alms of those who were entering the temple” (Acts 3:2).
It is possible that the disciples had previously given alms to him, because they apparently had a practice of giving to the poor (John 13:29). That’s speculation on my part. But perhaps that’s why they noticed him. On that morning, Peter and John were penniless, yet infinitely wealthier in spiritual gain. They were filled with the Holy Spirit and therefore believed that God was at work in all things and that He had put this destitute man in their paths in order to glorify Christ. When they saw the man on that day, the Holy Spirit filled them with faith in the name of Jesus—faith in His relationship with God and with them—and so they saw and seized the opportunity that was provided by the lame man’s seemingly hopeless situation. They trusted Jesus and loved that man who was despised, rejected, and not permitted to worship in the temple with God’s people.
Every situation is an opportunity to trust God, and every relationship is an opportunity to love with Jesus. Whether we are in the middle of a historic pandemic or simply encountering someone in mundane times, God is giving us many opportunities to share His love and the good news of Christ. God is glorifying Christ in the COVID-19 outbreak and its fallout through His children who see the opportunities to trust and love in His name. How about you? Are you one who sees these opportunities? You can be if you live to love with Jesus each day. He can and will give you what you need to trust God in all situations and love those He puts in your path. I’ve found that praying the following prayer as soon as I wake every morning helps me be prepared each day to recognize divinely appointed occasions and encounters.
Father in heaven, thank You for another day of life to live to know and love You and to love with Jesus. Please anoint and fill me with the Holy Spirit, the presence and power of Christ, so that I can love and trust You and love those You put in my path today, for Your glory.
If you haven’t already taken the 60-day Live to Love prayer challenge, I invite you to join the adventure of living to love with Jesus (www.livetolovewithjesus.com). There’s not a better time than NOW to begin. If you’ll begin each day with the attitude embodied in this prayer, you’ll not miss the opportunities God gives you to trust and love for His glory.