The Covid-19 situation seems to worsen every day. Just a couple of weeks ago, it seemed well under control and the chances of contracting the virus seemed remote. However, I just received news (on 1st April) that a classmate lost his sister in the Philippines to Covid-19. The virus is making its way into our lives. As days pass, it seems a matter of when, and not if, we or someone we know will be tested positive. Naturally, there is much worry and fear amongst us all.
In this season as we are all still reeling from the effects of Covid-19, I find myself struggling to cope with just the practicalities of life: adapting to new work arrangements as well as new responsibilities and juggling with studies at Singapore Bible College while taking care of the family. However, before I sank deep into the pits of self-pity, God showed me that my life is fairly rosy compared to those who are afflicted by the virus, or who have lost jobs due to the economic downturn. Take for example the five men who just entered our Safe Sound Sleeping Place (S3P) within the past two weeks, and the five more who are being processed at the time of writing. Each one has a story of brokenness and struggle more tragic and heart-breaking than anything I am going through. Their situation helped me to see that God has prepared me for such a time as this. I was challenged to see beyond my plight and extend a helping hand and a heart of compassion to those who need it.
As I was reflecting on this week’s pastoral message, Luke 23:46 spoke to me. At the moment of Jesus’ death, the curtain in the Temple tore from top to bottom (Luke 23:45). This was the same curtain which separated men from the holy of holies. Only the high priest could enter and offer sacrifices for the sins of the people, and even then, it was once a year on the day of atonement. With the curtain now split, it signifies that man would no longer have to suffer separation from God because of sin, but we are now able to approach the throne of grace boldly in prayer for forgiveness of sins. The life and sacrificial death of Jesus removed the barrier of sin, making it possible for man to obtain salvation by grace.
What does it mean for us to obtain salvation? How should we live our lives in light of such grace? These are pertinent questions each one of us must consider carefully. While we ought to share our reflections to keep accountability, we should not compare as God has called us to walk different paths.
“Then Jesus, calling out in a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.”
What strikes me is that Jesus’ sacrifice was not forced upon him. He chose to give up his spirit into the Father’s hand. He trusted that the Father would find his atonement sacrifice worthy and grant forgiveness to all man. As we enter into the Passion Week, many of us will be spending time on the Crucifixion accounts found in Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23 and John 19. I urge all of us not to read it in isolation.
Allow God’s word to speak into our circumstances. Even as we are impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, let us seek God to know what it means to live as a forgiven sinner in our personal life and as a community of believers. How can we look beyond our pain and suffering and look out for the welfare of others, just as Jesus did? If we call ourselves Christ-followers, how are we carrying our cross?
By Samuel Lin, Pastoral Staff (YCKC Bulletin 5 April 2020)