James Smith

In times like these when a lot of people are worried and uncertain about the future, God’s words are ever present and everlasting.

With the spread of coronavirus COVID-19 sweeping across Georgia, the nation and around the globe, many people seem lost and seemingly don't know where to turn for guidance and comfort.

The most logical thing for people to remember during this time is their faith, according to Dr. James Smith, pastor of Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church near Eatonton.

“In good times, we always rely on our faith, but probably in the worst times faith really comes to the surface,” Smith said. “The question that we need to ask ourselves in this season of self-examination is, can we trust God?”

The answer is obviously, yes, he said during a telephone interview Tuesday with The Union-Recorder.

Even so, there are still people who have doubts, Smith said.

“And that’s the same thing Satan did with Eve in the Garden of Eden was to put doubt in her mind,” Smith said. “And Satan did that with Jesus when he went into the wilderness after the Holy Spirit had come upon him. The scripture says the spirit led Jesus into the wilderness. Some versions even say it drove him into the wilderness.”

One of the first things Satan began to do was to attempt to make Jesus doubt, too, if he was truly the son of God, Smith pointed out.   

“He (Satan) put doubts in Jesus’ mind, and of course, he passed the test,” Smith added. “Jesus had already proven himself to his father. And so, I think that’s one question we have to ask today is - can we trust God in times like these or in the more serious times of our lives?”

He reiterated the answer was yes.

Smith also was asked to share his thoughts about those who believe we are all living in the last days.

“I really don't think so,” Smith quickly replied. “None of us know the day or the hour when Jesus will come again. But we have gone through more serious times than we’re going through today.”

He mentioned the Bubonic Plague during the period of the Middle Ages, for example. 

“They didn’t know how they got it; they didn’t know where it came from; and they didn't have a cure,” Smith said. “All they knew at that time was that they were living during those times when dead bodies literally were being carried through the streets every day.”

Smith also talked about a time during the Roman Empire.

“That was a time in history that God chose for Jesus to come incarnate and to be born in Bethlehem among men, and to walk among us and to be our example,” Smith said. “I think that was some of the worst times, especially for the Jews. Those were dark days. They were a conquered people.”

Smith said he thinks about the scripture that God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of love and power, and of sound mind to think our way through all of what is going on in the world today through faith in the Lord.

“That’s what I would suggest to people is to really ratchet up their faith, and go forward from there,” Smith said.

Now that people are spending more time at home with their families - either working from home because of the pandemic crisis or whether they are home because they are sick from the coronavirus and self-quarantined, Smith encourages people also to open their Bibles and to read the words of scripture.

Smith said he didn’t believe there was a better time than now to study lessons from the Bible and to get to know Jesus more and more on a personal basis. Smith said God wants that kind of relationship with every one of his children.

“Time as we know it, God doesn’t recognize it, because he lives in something called kairos time, whereas we live and exist in kronos time, chronological time,” Smith said. “So, I think there are going to be, and some are starting to come already, a lot of testimonies from people simply because they are home and they are reading their Bibles.”

Smith said that people taking time out in their lives to read their Bible and to draw ever closer to God was certainly some positive to take away from this latest storm in life.

He also alluded to the importance of the overall unity that one has with their family during such a crisis as playing a positive role among many people.

“The unity with the family and fellowship with one another are all positive things during such times as these, because we learn to do things much differently than in a fast-paced world in which we typically live,” Smith said.

Smith, who leads a congregation of Godly believers at one of the only churches still holding worship services on Sunday mornings during this health crisis, wants everyone to hold steadfast and believe that God will see us through this storm.

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