“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
“In this world you will have trouble.” This verse has always meant something to me, because it’s a promise from Jesus of what we should expect in life. Some might find that bleak, but I find it comforting that he loves me enough to warn me that troubles will come my way. Our lives are not meant to be easy.
Living in Wuhan, as my family and I have since 2011, is evidence of that promise from God. We are living in the epicenter of the world’s problems, this city where coronavirus began.
I’ve been journaling online since mid-January when the coronavirus first started spreading like wildfire throughout China. In that time, I’ve journaled the absurdities of shopping alongside people in hazmat suits, as well as the emotional struggles of knowing I’m locked inside our apartment complex with guards restricting our movement.
It’s been almost nine weeks now – about two months that we’ve been off work and out of school. Over time, my messages and emotions have run the gamut from amusement and novelty to regret, guilt, and borderline panic and fear. But I’ve settled into a new range of grateful emotions over the past several weeks, as God has allowed me to see this time of quarantine as the gift that it really is.
Quarantine has allowed me to be still and quiet and creative, to connect with my family and myself more, to serve others more selflessly, and to genuinely enjoy making community out of what is in front of me. Quarantine has increased my dependency on God and put me so much more in touch with him. He has provided for, comforted, and counseled me in numerous ways during this time.
So much good has come from our quarantine. He has taken this crisis and worked it together for his good in my life and that of my family. It is good and he is good.
“In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33).
The coronavirus has provided the world with a collective trouble, but I am here to encourage you in this and let you know this season can be good. In the middle of the problem, the right-now chaos and uncertainty and toilet paper shortages, it can be good.
It can be good because God is good.
Someone asked me recently if I knew then what I know now, would I have evacuated to the US when I had a chance. Four weeks ago, when things here got really hard, my husband and I did have a moment of regretting our decision not to go. But now… since we have been through the chaotic beginning of the virus outbreak, the sometimes scary and panic-riddled middle, and now we see hopeful glimpses of the end – I can truly say I am glad I stayed.
I am glad I stayed here so that God could do his work in me. Here in Wuhan, where our choices and freedoms are incredibly limited and where we have little to do but comply and wait, this is where all the beauty and growth has been. I am here under God’s watchful and loving eye for very specific reasons. You are where you are for his specific purpose, as well.
If you are scared and worried, or if you’re just not sure what you should be feeling or who to believe, I and other sisters with me here in China have been there. And though we don’t know each other, one thing we have in common is a faithful God who hears our prayers.
In the book of Philippians, Paul reminds the early church to pray about everything. He tells them and us not to be anxious about ANYTHING, but to pray to God about everything and let his peace guard our hearts and minds (Philippians 4:6-7).
When you pray, let go of the fear and worry that wants to linger. Fear cannot coexist with faith. Instead, own your prayer for God’s peace to guard your heart and mind, and then let God do it! Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand (Ephesians 6:11), and then walk confidently in the knowledge that God has you. You are right in his focus, and nothing that will come your way is any surprise to him.
Remember, Jesus said we WILL have troubles (John 16:33). Right now, we all have some kind of trouble in front of us, whether it’s related to the coronavirus or something all together different. Whatever it is, though, put on your armor, boldly pray about it, and hold on to the victory in the last part of that verse: Jesus has overcome the world!
Rebecca and her family have lived in Wuhan, China, since 2011. She enjoys expat life and dreams of one day writing as a social media encourager from an outdoor cafe somewhere along the Mediterranean.
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