To my beloved flock, grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
100,000 to 240,000. Those are the numbers that have been given as the possible number of deaths that we might expect in our country due to the coronavirus. We know that these are not just numbers – they are precious human lives. In the next few weeks, the virus will spread exponentially; already we’re seeing that there’s hardly a community that has not been impacted in some way by this sickness.
It’s probable that some of you might feel helpless; indeed, some may even feel a kind of despair as the encroaching hand of this plague reaches into our neighborhoods and possibly our very homes. I write these words in full knowledge that it is possible that not all of us may make it through this difficult time; there’s no point in avoiding stating that reality as you know it just as well as I do.
But, beloved, though everything in the world seems to have changed, the deeper reality has not. God is still sovereign. God is still good. God still loves you. None of this has taken Him by surprise, and none of it is outside of His eternal plan.
Let us examine our feelings of helplessness. Do they tell us the truth? Are we helpless? If we’re looking to help ourselves, though there is much we can do – and SHOULD do – we are not ultimately in control of the situation. I would say that, for most of us, the feeling of helplessness arises when we are forced to recognize that we don’t have even a semblance of control over what is happening to us.
But, the Scriptures have taught us that, ultimately, we are never fully in control of our situation… and that’s a good thing! We are creatures, limited in knowledge, power, etc. Not only this, we are sinful, and when we seek to do things our own way it very often ends up being damaging to ourselves and offensive to our God. Though the ethos of our nation has been self-reliance; the ethos of our faith is complete reliance upon the Lord our Help.
Consider the words of the psalmist in Psalm 46; meditate upon them during this difficult time, and examine your life – where is your faith? in your own “power”? or in the Lord?
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling… The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” Psalm 46:1-3,7
Consider also the words of the Apostle Paul when he writes to the saints at Rome: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Rom. 8:28). When Paul writes these Holy Spirit-inspired words, do we assume that by “all things” the Holy Spirit means “all things but coronavirus”? Of course not!
Consider the cross! The crucifixion of the Son of God was the darkest day; the godless rulers of this age crucified the Lord of glory! (1 Cor. 2:8). And yet, it was through the death of the Son that God’s people were redeemed! God worked through the darkest day to bring about the greatest good for His glory and the good of His people! If God can bring about our salvation through the death of His Son, how much more can He work even this terrible pandemic to our ultimate good.
Some of you, I hope, have seen God doing this already. Perhaps you have been given time at home, and you are using that time to pray and study the Word. Perhaps God is using this time to draw you closer to Himself – He Who is your ultimate good! I hope also that your family has been growing closer together in Christ as you worship regularly on Sundays in your homes! I hope all of you will join with me in praying every day at 6:30pm (or another time if that doesn’t work for you); pray for those affected by this virus, for those who will be affected by it, for those who are struggling with feelings of isolation and fear, for your brothers and sisters in Christ, for your families, and for yourselves.
My beloved flock, I am thankful for the fire of adversity. I am thankful that times like these show me where I am truly putting my faith. I am thankful that God uses these times, not to harm His children, but to wake them from slumber. I am thankful for you, beloved, and that perpetually. I am thankful for the ways in which you are continuing to shine the light of Christ into the darkness of our community. I am thankful for the food bank. I am thankful for the little ones who are working on cards for the elderly who are stuck at home. I am thankful for your continuing concern for me and for each other.
Above all, I am thankful for Jesus Christ, and the promise that no matter what happens I am His forever, and nothing can separate me or you from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord! (Rom. 8:39). Do you know that? That is, do you know Him? Are you being sustained every moment by His love? Go to the gospel, and rest in the arms of Christ! Even when the world around us seems to be falling apart, we will not if we are truly found in Christ our Refuge.
I refuse to be afraid. I refuse to give in to despair. I am a child of the living God, and He has promised me only ultimate good even in the midst of present suffering. This light and momentary affliction is infinitely overshadowed by the eternal weight of glory to come! (2 Cor. 4:17) Even if my life should end, what will that be but an entrance into glory to behold the face of God! We must look to Him Who for our sake did not spare His own Son! He has not forsaken us! He will not forsake us as long as Christ our Redeemer lives – and Christ lives eternally, as we do in Him!
Be strong in the Lord, brothers and sisters; He will bring us through this and ultimately, whether now or in the future, to Himself, to dwell with Him forever! May you always know the hope of glory which is Christ in you! (Col. 1:27).
The Lord bless you and keep you!