As I write this, we are in the midst of what has been called a global pandemic. Something to the extent of which none of us have seen before in our lifetime. Many businesses and organizations have been shut down, dining rooms in restaurants closed, kids out of school for weeks, professional sporting events cancelled, and even we have had to suspend our gathering together in person for worship all as a means to prevent the spread of COVID-19, now a household name. Our lives have been turned upside down and our routines redirected. Television and social media dominated by ongoing reports of the climbing of the numbers of those infected and the death toll. It is a lot to take in at times and can easily breed confusion and even fear if we are not careful. My goal in this month’s article is to direct us to three things that we should be sure to remember about God during a time like this. Truths that are sure to help the believer maintain his or her sanity and find comfort and security in not just these current times and situation but in all times and in every situation.
One thing that we need to remember is God’s providence; His governing of everything in the world. The author of Hebrews tells us that Jesus “upholds the universe by the word of His power” (1:3). There is not a tiny sparrow that falls apart from the Father (Matthew 10:29). It is God who “changes times and seasons” and “removes kings and sets up kings” (Daniel 2:21). No earthly authority holds any power without Him (John 19:11; Romans 13:1). The storm clouds and the wind move at His command (Psalm 135:7) and are stilled by His command (Mark 4:39). He at certain times sends disease (2 Chronicles 26:19-20) and heals of disease (2 Kings 20:5). Satan himself cannot act without God’s permission (Job 1:12; 2:6; Luke 22:31).
Even in the midst of this COVID-19 pandemic, God is still in control. He has not and will not abdicate His throne. The world and all things in it are still being sustained and directed by His all-powerful hand. This serves as a great comfort to us because there is no one as good and wonderful to rule over everything as our great God. And we know that He is One who never makes a mistake. When things may seem like they are spiraling out of control, always remind yourself that they are in more than capable hands and therefore we have no need to fear or worry. In fact, I shudder to think about what it would look like if things like this virus were outside of God’s providence. If He were not guiding and directing everything. Thankfully, we never have to experience a world as such.
Another thing to remember is God’s preservation of His people. One of the most comforting passages in all of Scripture is found at the end of Romans 8 where Paul unequivocally states that there is nothing, absolutely nothing, that can separate the believer from God’s love for them in Christ (vv. 31-37). The worst that this sickness can do for the believer is to send him or her home to heaven. It will have no effect on their eternal inheritance except to better prepare them for it. This certainly does not mean that we should presume upon God and not take the necessary precautions to prevent ourselves from contracting this virus or irresponsibly spread it to others. The Scripture “do not test the Lord your God” comes to mind here (Deuteronomy 6:16; Matthew 4:7). Just that we do not need to fear this virus and what it could do to us. We are forever secure in Christ and, as the Getty’s have taught us to sing, “No power of hell, no scheme of man, / Can ever pluck me from His hand / Till He returns or calls me home / Here in the power of Christ I'll stand.” We can add “no new virus or contagious sickness” to that as well.
And finally, let’s remember God’s purpose. God does not directly cause or divinely permit anything to occur arbitrarily. As Paul points out in Ephesians 1:11, “He works all things according to the counsel of His will.” God always has a good, all wise, perfect purpose in all that He ordains and we can trust Him in that. We ought to be careful though in speculating the specifics of His purpose with things such as this virus. I have already read the different suggestions people have made of what God might be intending to do with this pandemic. The fact of the matter is that we really don’t know what all God has in mind unless He would directly reveal that to us, which He has not done. His Word is clear that we are to leave the secret things (those which the Lord has not revealed to us) in the Lord’s hands and concern ourselves with that which He has revealed to us in His Word (Deuteronomy 29:29).
However, with all that said, we do know based on the assurance of His Word that He will use this sickness for His people’s good and to bring glory to His name. That’s the precious promise of Romans 8:28 that we have looked at together before. COVID-19 fits into this category of “all things.” Not that this sickness is itself good of course. It is a product of the Fall and evidence of the world being under a curse due to man’s sin. But what God does with it for the believer ultimately will be for his or her good. And vv. 29-30 inform us that the “good” which Paul refers is to become further conformed to the image of Jesus (v. 29) and eventually to be glorified where we will fully and completely be like Jesus in character (v. 30). Already, there has been so many various ways that the Lord has been working in our lives with this illness and the effect the preventive measures are having on us that we may not even be aware of. It is not random or purposeless but serves to prepare for a glory beyond any comparison (2 Corinthians 4:17).
In keeping these things in mind, we can remain calm in this time of calamity. It will prevent us from giving way to fear and panic and above all else encourage us to trust in the One who providentially governs all things, preserves His people, and has a purpose for our good and His glory. Christian, be sure to rest in such truths in this time. Let it be the pillow that you can lay your head on. CNN and Fox News will not tell you this. The President and his task force more likely will not say it in any of the press briefings. But it is found in His Word and let’s be sure that we are turning to it more in these trying times.
Love in Christ,