In these perilous and uncertain days, with hardship and loss, it’s common to hear phrases like “Together, we’ll get through this.” It’s true. We need each other. So, we asked some soldiers and officers across the territory to share what’s on their hearts and found that their faith in God is sustaining them. May you be encouraged.
A song of hope
by William Himes
Ever since I can remember, music has been an important part of my life from Sunday school choruses sung as a toddler to university and Salvation Army performances that have taken me all over the world. I particularly appreciate its power to build memories. For example, we learned our A-B-C’s by singing them to “Twinkle, twinkle, little star.”
Over the years I’ve experienced the ability of music to imprint spiritual truth. When I have experienced life’s most challenging situations, often a melody will come to me, then its words of assurance and strength.
We all have been impacted by this life-changing pandemic—in ways big and small. But as I think about the uncertainties of these times, a song soars in my heart:
My hope is built on nothing less Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness…
On Christ, the solid rock, I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
When life knocks you down, perhaps you will find yourself singing this, too. It is inspired by the Bible’s message of hope from beginning to end, including Hebrews 10:23 (NIV): “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” I pray that God’s song will always be in you.
Gratitude: the anchor of faith
by Major JenniferWoodard
As a child I thought I would never have enough “blind” faith to please God. Thankfully, I came to understand faith in God is never really blind. In truth, we have reasons beyond measure to believe, and all add up to only one real reason: the love of God.
If faith is the anchor, then the love of God is the rock on which it holds. Scripture is full of the character of God. Testimonies abound of His faithfulness despite loss this side of heaven. Our created world is full of God’s glory so that “man is without excuse” (Romans 1:20). And each singular life is full of God’s graces.
Along with you, I am experiencing a forced reordering of my time, priorities and opportunities. But in the midst, steady truths have emerged with heightened awareness: God is my only hope—but He is a firm hope; life is short—but I have life now; trusting God is a choice—but He is trustworthy.
Now, when “normal” falls away, good and rare gifts remain: time, family, friends, the value of others, sunshine, fresh air, the message of spring in winter’s experience; breath in my lungs, and just being, still before God. Wonder invites me to gratitude, flooding my soul with renewed faith. “Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness,” Lamentations 3:22-23 (NIV).
Peace beyond circumstances
by Barb Higgins
We have no control over this pandemic. It’s easy to lose faith, live in fear and have no peace. But I’m reminded of the song “This is my father’s world” that proclaims, “Oh, let me never forget that though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.”
I believe our Army has been raised up by God for such a time as this. We’re prepared to meet the needs of suffering humanity. Soldiers, adherents, officers and volunteers—young and old—have been mobilized to help where we can with what we have.
But in addition to material assistance, we bring hope. God is not indifferent. He knows us personally and cares for us deeply. He is no stranger to suffering or carrying heavy burdens. God entered our hurting world to rescue us through His son, Jesus, whose death on the cross and resurrection made a way for us to be reconciled with God. And it’s because of Jesus that you and I can look to the future with hope and peace regardless of the circumstances.
Peace doesn’t mean we ignore risks, avoid thinking about circumstances or don’t acknowledge they could get worse. It doesn’t mean we don’t take precautions for our safety and the well-being of others. Peace acknowledges trust in Jesus; having hope in the midst of the circumstances, we have the opportunity to live in peace. Our hope and peace rest in a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Let’s not forget to share that hope. Let that hope motivate us. Let that peace shine through us.
Fully trusting God
by Lt.Anil Kumar
I have been thinking a lot about trusting God, even before this pandemic hit us. Last June, Karen and I welcomed our son, Raj, into this world just a few days before her commissioning. We walked into our new appointment at the Farmington Hills, Mich., Corps with a three-week-old baby. We had questions:
• Why were we sent here?
• What are we supposed to do?
• How are we supposed to raise Raj?
• When should we unpack, read the brief, get to know everyone?
The list went on and on.
Frustrations were building, the list of unknowns and things “to do” were piling up, and Christmas was around the corner. At this chaotic moment, we received terrifying news from my homeland, India. My dad was dying.
It was difficult to be thousands of miles away from family; words can’t describe what I felt. I went home to India for three weeks, and when I returned to the U.S., I realized I did not trust God completely. I had only trusted Him in certain aspects. I had limited Him so I could be in control of my life, but not fully trusting Him created chaos.
Once I started to trust Him completely, I was able to see things differently. I now see God’s work in everything we do which brings amazing hope. There is nothing better than trusting God and serving His people, especially during this time of crisis.
God’s Word, my light
by Jervias Johnson
Back in February the Lord spoke to me saying, “I already love you, and it’s time to continue stepping forward in the path I revealed to you. Challenges are going to come, but it’s time to double down and put in work to stay connected to my Word.”
At the beginning of this pandemic, I panicked and strayed from the path God revealed to me. But after about a week of inciting fear from reading headlines, I felt the Lord reveal Himself again. After this second encounter, I realized God still wanted me to pursue Him wholeheartedly despite the unprecedented circumstances.
I am humbled and reminded of God’s sovereignty throughout times of both trouble and peace.
Adjusting our focus
by Lt.Matthew Beatty
It is easy to focus on what we are losing or have lost already. Our daily lives have been interrupted, jobs have been lost, finances are dwindling or non-existent, and there is a big uncertainty as to how long all this will continue. For many, serious health issues are a possibility. How can we focus on anything else when this is all we see? The news, Facebook, internet, day-to-day conversations, it is everywhere, every day.
But you know what else is everywhere that many have forgotten and overlooked? Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Psalm 46:1 (NIV) reminds us, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Through all of this He is still there ready to support, guide, love and strengthen us.
So, let us focus on the Light that never burns out, the Light that shines to all and gives us hope when there seems to be none. Let us focus on Jesus and allow Him to carry us through. In times like these, Rona and I acknowledge the difficulties but see the opportunities—opportunities to share the Gospel and to meet human needs in His name and to show the true love that scripture speaks of constantly.
Still united in mission
by Major Johanna Pook
At the start of each year, my husband, John, and I choose a theme for the Chicago Kroc Center. It serves as an overarching topic for each department to use as part of our strategic focus and general operation.
The theme we selected for 2020 is “United.” As we began to face the effects of this pandemic, I wondered how in the world we would be able to embody and practice this focus when we can’t be together. Many of us have had to work from home or schedule our hours at the center when only a few people are there in order to practice social distancing.
But it’s been beautiful to see that although we can’t be physically together, there is an incredible unity among our staff, volunteers, officers and community leaders as we work together and love others in creative and meaningful ways. People have called to check on me and others, meals have been dropped off to folks who can’t go out, phone calls and emails have been sent asking for and providing prayer—and so much more. Although we have been separated, we are still united and fulfilling God’s mission.
I have seen Colossians 3:14 (NASB) in action: “Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.” It doesn’t matter that we must “shelter in place” because as long as we continue to be united in our demonstration of Christ’s love, everything will be alright.
The Lord, my strength
by Jorge Madrigal
I believe the Lord is my protection and my shield. When life gets hard, I lean on the promise in Psalm 91 that He is always going to be there for me. I know we are in hard times, especially for those who are laid off, confined to their homes or have contracted the disease. But even through all of that, I am encouraged by God’s promises. What God promises, He does; He is faithful.
God has given me a peace in my heart about everything that’s happening. Going to work each day is a risk. Driving around making deliveries and visiting clients means I am exposed to everything that’s going on, but I am being careful, and I know the Lord is with me.
Life looks different at home, too. I don’t want to expose my kids, so we don’t go places like we used to. Instead, we play outside in our yard. Our everyday activities have changed, but on Sundays we still worship with our corps family virtually. My daughter helps with the audio/visual while I lead worship for the online services. We’re still at it, praising God.
Isaiah 41:10 says, “Do not fear for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
That’s a promise that I have in Him. I encourage others to trust God. He is taking care of everything.
God makes a way
by Blythe Marinelli
“Nothing I fear is too big for God’s strength.”
These were the words I read in my devotional on the morning of March 21 in Isola Farnese, Italy.
My husband, Jack, and I had arrived in Rome two weeks earlier when life was still normal in the city. The coronavirus was in Northern Italy, they said. Rome was fine, they said.
Two days later the entire country went into lockdown! Suddenly, we were limited to staying in our little town. As we watched news reports on TV, Italy was spiraling into disaster!
By Thursday, March 19, my husband and I looked at each other and said, “We need to go home.” We were able to get one-way tickets to the U.S. on Alitalia, set to fly out on Saturday morning, but that evening Jack discovered the airline required passengers to have face masks to get on the flight. Since we didn’t have any masks, Jack jumped on a borrowed bicycle and raced up to the pharmacy a mile away to see if he could get a couple. They had none. I started praying.
Back from the pharmacy, Jack talked to a neighbor on the front porch, sharing how we needed masks to get home but couldn’t find any. She said, “I have a mask for me, and I might have one more. You can have it.” We thought, Well, at least we’ll have one. I kept praying. She came out of her house a few minutes later saying, “You are lucky…. I have three masks!” She kept one and gave us her last two. Praise God!
We got out of Italy and into the U.S. without a snag, thanks to a selfless neighbor and the strength of God.