This headline caught my eye recently: “A Chick-fil-A manager saved a drive-thru Covid-19 vaccination clinic after traffic backed up.”
When the computer system handling vaccine registrations went down in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, hundreds of people were left waiting for hours. The mayor told reporters that he called the local Chick-fil-A manager, who “showed us how to do it right.” His intervention reduced the hours-long wait to just fifteen minutes.
In another story of altruism, firefighters in Connecticut executed a daring rescue this week to save a man and woman trapped in a pickup truck. Monday’s nor-easter drove their vehicle into Long Island Sound, filling it with water. The woman escaped through the truck’s rear window, but the man was stuck inside the vehicle.
Firefighters stretched their tower ladder over the freezing water, where they pulled the man through one of the truck’s windows after the vehicle was completely submerged. Watching the video reminds me that we should be grateful every day for firefighters and all who risk their lives for us.
In sad news, Captain Sir Tom Moore has passed away. Last April, the World War II veteran pledged to walk one hundred laps around his garden before his one-hundredth birthday to raise money for the “heroes” at Britain’s National Health Service. His original goal was to raise $1,250, but he raised nearly $45 million in donations from around the world and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth last summer.
“Courage is almost a contradiction in terms”
We live in a world in great need of courageous altruism.
Yesterday we discussed the rising threats evangelical Christians are facing from censorship and discrimination. Today, I’d like us to reframe such obstacles as opportunities.
A dear friend sent me this profound statement by G. K. Chesterton: “Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. . . . A soldier surrounded by enemies, if he is to cut his way out, needs to combine a strong desire for living with a strange carelessness about dying. . . . He must seek his life in a spirit of furious indifference to it; he must desire life like water and yet drink death like wine.”
How can we find the courage to pay any price for our faith? Consider three ways God is redeeming the challenges of our days.
One: He is using the pandemic to show us our need for him.
Gavin Calver leads the United Kingdom’s Evangelical Alliance. In an interview with Christianity Today, he states: “For years the church has been answering questions the world wasn’t asking, but since the pandemic, 25 percent of the population of the UK has been to church online at least once. Normally only 5 percent of the population goes to church. We’re calling it mortality salience, which is an awareness of your own fragility. You might die one day, so you start asking the big questions” (his italics).
God’s word is clear: “It is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). The reality of death is clearer for many than ever before, and God is using this clarity to bring many to himself.
Who in your relational circles is asking the “big questions”? Who is experiencing loss, pain, or other challenges in these hard times? If you will have the courage to share your faith and compassion with them, God will use you to draw them to his grace.
Two: He is using our limitations to liberate us.
In Keeping Hope: Favourite Prayers for Modern Living, Michel Quoist makes this remarkable statement: “Your limitations are not simply obstacles to your success—they are also indications from God of the path your life is to take.”
Paul’s closed doors in Asia and Bithynia led him to Troas, where his Macedonian vision brought the apostle and the gospel to Europe (Acts 16:6–10). The Western world would never be the same.
What closed doors are you facing? Have you asked your Lord to use them for his purposes in your life? If you will have the courage to follow wherever he leads, he will lead you into eternal significance.
Three: He is using our community to draw the lost to Christ.
In his Christianity Today interview, Rev. Calver described a meal his church hosted at which fifteen men attended from fourteen nationalities.
An observer asked, “What on earth are you?”
Calver replied, “What do you think we are?”
The man said, “I think you’re the church. No other group in this community can get this diverse group of people around the same table, eating together, laughing together, and being together.”
Calver added, “The church can do something the world can’t do.”
In response to the compassionate unity of the first Christians, “More than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women” (Acts 5:14). When lost people see Christians acting as the family of faith, many will want what we have.
In a pandemic of disease that is escalating a pandemic of loneliness and depression, whom do you know who needs community in Christ? If you will have the courage to reach out to those who would not reach out to you, God will use you to draw them into his eternal family.
“In the middle, we hold firm”
Gavin Calver’s description of his culture relates directly to ours: “The United Kingdom is a challenging landscape. It is an increasingly secular one. Whatever happens that’s really wonderful between now and the end of time, whatever happens that’s really horrible and difficult between now and the end of time, we know, at the end of the story, Jesus wins.
“Therefore, in the middle, we hold firm. We stand firmly on his word, and we do what we can to make him known.”
Let’s join him today, to the glory of God.