22 March 2020

What can we learn from the coronavirus pandemic?



We are living in difficult times. This is also a golden opportunity to take a serious look at our lives and our relationship with God. I ask you please to consider these three aspects: our vulnerability, our priorities, and our mortality.

Our Vulnerability

The pandemic exposes our weakness. In normal circumstances, we feel strong and in full control of our lives, and we look ahead to the future with confidence. Then came this microscopic virus that so easily popped our pride. Suddenly we feel anxious and vulnerable and uncertain about what’s coming. For indeed, we are small and weak, and we realize that there are forces out there that we can’t handle.

But God can. He is in full control of all things. He reigns over his creation. Nothing happens in the universe outside of his plan and providence. Including coronavirus. God wounds and he heals; God gives life and he kills (see Deuteronomy 32:39). We are weak but he is strong. Let us then turn to him. “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (1Peter 5:6-7).

Our Priorities

This crisis forces us to reassess our priorities. What we considered of utmost value yesterday, somehow seems less important today. For our survival, we closed schools, shops, restaurants, and even our churches. Health is more important than our entertainment, certainly, but it is not the ultimate priority. For, after all, even our health will eventually fail. The highest value of all is love ... the experience of God’s love is life itself. That is what really matters.

In a time of trouble, many people turn to God in prayer, asking him for protection and healing. But sadly that is all they ask for. They think of God as if he was a postman – they expect to receive a parcel from him, but they don’t really care about him. Ask yourself, friend, do you want God’s gifts only, or do you want God himself.? Does your heart hunger for his love? Can you honestly repeat the words of the Psalmist and say, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you” (Psalm 73:25)?

Our Mortality

We know, of course, that death is inevitable, but we normally live as if we are going to stay here forever. Now we have come face to face with death, and we were startled. We see life for what it really is ... a terminal condition. Sooner or later we must go, leaving behind us our possessions and our loved ones, to appear before God for judgement. Heaven or hell awaits us.

Only one can free us from the fear of death, Jesus, the Son of God. He came to earth for this very purpose. He came to die on the cross to take away the sin of the world. Yes, it’s true, he died and was buried. But he was not defeated. On the third day, he arose victoriously from the grave. Jesus is alive, and he offers us this wonderful promise: “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live” (John 11 25).

Dear friend, do you entrust your salvation to his nail-pierced, loving and all-powerful hands? If you do, then you can enjoy unspeakable peace even in this time of trouble, for the worst thing that can ever happen to you, death, is the very best thing also – for then you will meet with your Saviour. For me to live is Christ, to die is gain!

16 November 2019

Rejoice in the Lord Always

God is eternally blessed, and he is pleased to share his happiness with his people. ‘Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4). We who belong to him have every reason to be joyful.

We rejoice, first of all, in God’s amazing grace to us, undeserving sinners. He sent his Son Jesus to die in our place to free us from our sin. He called us by the gospel and gave us a new heart. We are now justified by faith and at peace with God. Even more, he has adopted us as his sons and daughters, and we can now call him our Father.

Moreover, God has come to reside in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. He works through his word to transform us into the likeness of Christ. Even as the Lord loves us, we have discovered the joy of being kind and generous to others. It is not always easy to do good, but by the Spirit’s help, we are willing to suffer for doing God’s will, even when others mistreat us. It is our greatest honour to suffer for his name’s sake.

During our short pilgrimage on earth, we are learning to rejoice in all circumstances. We rejoice in health and prosperity, grateful for God’s generosity. We also rejoice in hardships and sorrows, knowing that our sovereign God is in perfect control even of the tiny details of our lives. God has promised that all things work together for our good, including disappointments, trials and sickness. Even death is our gain.

God has promised to be with us his children always, in the green meadows and in the dark valleys. He has pledged to bring us safely to our heavenly home. There we shall see him face to face.

Ultimately we rejoice in him. We appreciate his gifts for they are tokens of his love, but our hearts yearn after him. We love our Saviour. Like a bride rejoicing in her husband, the church finds her greatest joy in communion with her Beloved. From the bottom of our heart, we cry out to him, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you” (Psalm 73:25).

1 November 2019

The True Treasure of the Church

One of Martin Luther's 95 theses that he posted to the church door at Wittenberg in 1517, read, “The true treasure of the church is the most holy gospel of the glory and grace of God.”

Yet the church at that time was contented with many other treasures! It had wealth, lands, gold, palaces, statues, rituals, churches and cathedrals. The pope, the cardinals and the clergy enjoyed immense power and prestige. The church had spiritual and temporal dominion over the European continent. At her disposal, the church had the treasury of the merits of Christ, Mary and the Saints, and the authority to distribute indulgences to the faithful in their efforts to obtain salvation and to avoid the horrors of purgatory.

1 October 2019

The Dwelling Place of God

Whenever I travel to a European city, whether it is Rome, Paris or Vienna, I make it a point to visit the cathedral and some other churches. Recently I told my son, as we sat quietly together in the pew of a church in Barcelona, gazing at the magnificent architecture, ‘John, whatever else we may think about this place, it is a tribute to the zeal and devotion of Catholic people to God. They built this wonderful church because they believe that Jesus dwells in the place.’

King David expressed similar feelings as he prepared for the building of the Temple in Jerusalem. He said, ‘The house that is to be built for the Lord must be exceedingly magnificent, of fame and glory throughout all lands’ (1 Chronicles 22:5). David loved the Lord and he wanted to honour him by building a beautiful dwelling place for him.

1 September 2019

Seize the Day

'You only live once! Enjoy the moment and do not worry about the future,' people say.

The Apostle Paul argues that if death is the end of everything, if there is no such thing as a resurrection, the sensible thing to do in life is to enjoy ourselves to the full while it lasts. He writes, 'If the dead are not raised, 'Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.'' (1 Cor. 15:32).

Is this not the outlook of many people in our day? They do not believe that Jesus was resurrected or that the dead will be raised to life on the last day. But if this is so, how should we live?

1 August 2019

Full of Grace


Grace is the brilliant theme of the gospel message. We receive God’s amazing blessings from His gracious, merciful and generous heart, and not because we deserve them.

Mary was bewildered when the angel greeted her with the words, “Hail, favoured one! The Lord is with you” (Luke 1:28). Why was she so favoured? What was the special grace that God was pleased to give her? Gabriel explained that she found grace before God because she was to give birth to a child, who is God’s Son, the Messiah.