I thought I was going to die! After a wave had pushed me underwater, I surfaced, gasping for air only to find its partner bearing in on me for the kill. Just moments before, I was laughing and enjoying the day by cooling off at the waterpark. In an instant, a muscle cramped, and I couldn’t move my leg. Every stroke seemed futile until I felt the sweet sensation of solid ground.
Our world has been facing this global pandemic with the COVID-19 virus. When it began, many chose to respond by hoarding toilet paper and other items. Going to the store meant returning without some things on your grocery list because you weren’t the first in line. While many are choosing to overreact, others show disregard. With the loss of jobs due to businesses closing their doors, hope became a rare commodity. Uncertainly became “the new normal.”
James tells us that we should “think of the various tests you encounter as occasions for joy (CEB).” That is advice we applaud when there is plenty of milk and eggs on the grocery store shelves. It’s great when we are not worried about paying the rent because our company closed due to the quarantine. When we go through tests and trials, the first thought is not, “How wonderful!” In the thick of the storm, we want to escape. We want to get away from our affliction. Our prayer is, “God remove this from me!” James says, “think of the various tests you encounter as occasions for joy.”
Perhaps the reason joy is so fleeting is that our focus is on the waves instead of Jesus. The gaze we set is firmly on the circumstance of the storm instead of our character amid the crashing waves. Peter did the unimaginable and walked on water as long as he looked toward Jesus. The storm was still there, but he was able to navigate in its midst. With eyes fixed on Jesus, the waves become inconsequential.
“Are we going to make it through this?” That is the question we have when the waves are crashing down. Fear and worry focus on the waves crashing down around us. There is no guarantee you will not lose your job, and it is not sure your loved one will overcome the illness. God never promises to remove the affliction this side of death. Instead of “calm the wave,” our prayer ought to be that our character remains pure in Christ so that we are not a wave to others.