We are living in unprecedented times. The COVID-19 pandemic has destroyed many lives and upended people’s livelihoods. Never in the history of disasters have we seen so many deaths due to COVID-19. At the point of writing, there have been over 200 million infection cases and 4.3 millions deaths reported worldwide. It is the worst disaster in history. Despite the fact that we now have vaccines, we are still struggling to contain the virus. Many governments around the world have come to accept the inevitable reality: that it is impossible to eradicate the COVID-19 virus as it continues to mutate and spread. We have to learn to cope with it.
Many people are perplexed and vexed by this invisible and deadly pestilence and wonder what has gone wrong with the world. Even we Christians ponder upon what God is trying to tell us from this pandemic. Increasingly, we become more cognisant of the fact that life is fragile and unpredictable. The truth hits home when someone who you know falls prey to COVID-19 or some other disaster.
One of my primary school classmates recently shared the sad news that her colleague had just passed away. She found out that she had cancer of the uterus in April. My ex-classmate saw her in mid May and noticed that she looked tired and super skinny. She told her that she was very tired from carrying her laptop around when visiting customers. The news of her death saddened her greatly. However, she also realised that she was very blessed, not just in being alive, but also in having family and friends with her in good and bad times. Many encouragements followed after. Another classmate wrote to her with this message: “Sad to hear this. That’s the brevity of life. Glad to hear you are okay. I think we ponder eternity more often as we age.”
Indeed, our lives are like grass, verdant in the morning but dry and withered by evening. The scriptures inform us that life is like a flower that buds and flourishes in its season, but when the wind blows over it, it is gone and its place remembers it no more (Psalm 103:14–16).
So, how should we live our lives? The apostle Peter in his second letter exhorts us to live this day for that Day. That Day is the Day of the Lord, in which He will come to establish a new heaven and a new earth. In the light of Christ’s coming, we are called to live holy and godly lives.
But how do we live holy and godly lives? Ps Luwin in one of his sermons gave a good illustration — that we should not live our Christian lives like passengers sitting nicely in a plane and letting it take us to our final destination, but like the cheerful bride actively preparing for the day of her wedding, striving to know and love her fiance more and more each day as she prepares for the day of holy matrimony.
The apostle Peter urges us in our preparations for That Day to be on our guard so that we are not carried away by erroneous teaching and fall from our position in Christ. Besides being watchful and prayerful, Peter also encourages us to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
CH Spurgeon, the “Prince of Preachers” once said, “The way to stand is to grow and the way to be steadfast is to go forward. There is no standing except by progression.” In order not to fall from our position in Christ, we need to move and progress in our faith, and supplement our faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self control, and self control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love (2 Peter 1:5–7). When we grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus by obeying His word, serving others with kindness, sharing the faith with compassion, and building one another up with gentleness, we are preparing ourselves for the Day of the Lord.
Although the world today may look bleak and weary, we can look to God and know that one day He is coming again to establish a new Heaven and a new earth where righteousness dwells. Let us hold fast to His promise.
– Dn Lee Pak Choon