There’s a moment in the first book of The Lord of the Rings trilogy when Frodo laments that a great evil has erupted in his generation. “I wish it need not have happened in my time,” he says.
Gandalf responds with compassion and wisdom in equal measure: “So do I, and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
This conversation between the sage and the reluctant ring-bearer has come to mind of late. Today we confront a challenge unlike any we have seen in our lifetimes. COVID-19 has spread around the globe with breathtaking speed. It is stealing lives, bankrupting businesses, plunging economies into chaos, shuttering churches, and changing overnight many of our most cherished patterns of life.
History has thrust a challenge upon us. We can only choose how we face it.
As Christians, we are a cruciform people. We stake our lives on the proposition that the entirety of history turns on a moment in which the Son of God plunged into the heart of human suffering—and won victory over sin and death. We worship a Savior who bids us to die to ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow him. Jesus is the Suffering Servant, and he invites us to be the same for others. Perhaps this is why Christians, for 2,000 years, have been so noteworthy for their sacrificial response to suffering and disease.
How will the church now rise to this moment? How will we, like our crucified King, enter into the sufferings of others? How will we, like our risen Lord, bring life out of death? What will we “do with the time that is given us”?
At Christianity Today, we ask this question about our ministry as well. We are ...1
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