“These are the times that try men’s souls.” Thomas Paine’s oft-quoted opening of his influential essay "American Crisis," dated Dec. 23, 1776, was written to inspire patriots to join the American Revolution. Now, 244 years later, the sentence accurately depicts the state of our nation and the world during this health and economic crisis.
Paine — conveying personal thoughts about the American crisis when a fractured six-month-old nation with rag-tag militias was fighting to win independence from the world’s greatest military power — wrote, “I thank God, that I fear not. I see no real cause for fear.”
Trust is the antidote of fear. Trust in God. Trust in Jesus Christ. HE is in control. These are my personal go-to-mantras, while panic and fear are manufactured 24/7 on media assembly lines. At the end of the “line,” panic and fear are coated with uncertainty, producing a quiet, secondary plague that dwells between our ears.
Meanwhile, because I am human, my mantras need continuous internal reinforcement. I know He loves me. I know He is there. I know He is in control. All believers know that faith is tested during stressful times, and trust is the foundation of faith.
Yet, my faith is weakened by what I am seeing and experiencing — so send in the calvary! (And I know that no matter how bleak the circumstances, in the end, the battle was won on the cross at Cavalry.)
Thus, if you are experiencing coronavirus related pain, be it physical, emotional, financial, or all three, I pray that these passages will be your calvary (or Cavalry).
First, let us review some Old Testament passages about trust in God.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3: 5-6).
“Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him”(Proverbs 30:5).
“Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, And put your trust in the Lord” (Psalm 4:5).
“O Lord my God, in You I put my trust; Save me from all those who persecute me; And deliver me,” (Psalm 7:1).
“Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun” (Psalm 37: 3-6).
“The God of my strength, in whom I will trust..” (2 Samuel 22:3).
“For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).
Turning to the New Testament now with teachings from Jesus:
"Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? (Matthew 6:25-26).
“Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, "'Don't be afraid; just believe'" (Mark 5:36).
Paul shares his wisdom in this famous scripture:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
And one of Paul’s best-known passages ranks high among my favorites:
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
The operative words are “all things,” trusting Him that today’s unfavorable circumstances will eventually be resolved, “according to HIS purpose.” Generally, non-believers do not relate to this concept as much as believers because we recognize, experience, and accept how He works in our lives.
Of course, trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ is easier when times are good. And now, in difficult times when collectively we are being tested, we must call upon Him for our needs and for our nation to overcome the challenges that multiply daily. I believe that God’s hand is on this crisis. He is in control and trying to get our attention.
Pastor Charles Swindoll beautifully summarized the essence of faith and trust in the Lord, writing, “One of the marks of spiritual maturity is the quiet confidence that God is in control without the need to understand why He does what He does.”
Enhancing Swindoll’s words in these “times that try men’s [and women’s] souls” is the voice of Jesus in what I consider the ultimate statement about why we trust in Him:
“I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:20).