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Keeping the Faith in Tough Times

By Kent Ingle | Church Leadership

Leading in ministry often means navigating unexpected changes and shifts. But for many of us now, our trust and dependence on God are being deeply tested in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Some weeks, we’re not sure whether the incoming tithes will be as much as last Sunday’s. We’re not sure whether some of our members will consider leaving our congregation for a new and younger church. We don’t know whether our youth pastor will stick around beyond the summer months.

In many ways, ministry leadership requires a deep dependence and trust in God. Seasons such as these teach us just how deep this trust really is.

As president of Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida, I can say from my own experience that leading a faith-based college during this national emergency can be frightening.

In times of crisis (although this crisis of COVID-19 is like one we have never seen), we often look for concrete confirmation that we can trust God. We want a clear sign that God is at work and healing our world — and certainly, we should pray for these things for our nation now.

We should also consider the many ways God has proven, time and again, He is trustworthy.

In the midst of deciding what we would do here at Southeastern University in light of the rapid spread of the coronavirus, my personal devotionals led me to the Book of Job. It is not necessarily the most comforting book to read in the midst of this uncertainty.

Consider the many ways God has proven He is trustworthy.

But Job’s story confronts us with this question: Will you trust God when everything in your life goes wrong?

For Job, everything that could go wrong did. He lost it all — his livelihood, his wealth, his health and even his children. Yet he remained resilient in faith and continued to trust God through deep despair.

Job’s story reminded me that we honor God not by thanking Him for our problems once they have passed, but by staying committed to Him even in the midst of our trials.

It’s easy to think our faith is built during the highs of life when our souls feel inspired to praise God. It is a very different challenge to trust God when we don’t know how much longer we will have to continue to hold church services online, when we don’t know whether there will be a dip in our weekly income, or when we or someone we love may face a sudden illness.

Yet praising and trusting God through adversity is what truly builds our faith.

Even in the midst of difficulty, Job was able to say with confidence, “I know that my redeemer lives” (Job 19:25).

It is far too easy in these times to dwell in the depths of despair and to anticipate the worst — even before it happens.

Where we set our minds not only impacts our praise to God but impacts the shaping of our faith. Worship is a tool for our spirit that opens us to the great strength and power of our God.

When you’re confused, angry, fearful and doubting, don’t turn away from God. Instead, turn toward Him. Worship Him. Because He is the only One who has the power to truly comfort you and guide you, even in the midst of a pandemic.