Doesn’t the world seem so strange now? It’s been almost three weeks since Mechlenburg County, NC, insisted that we stay home and closed the restaurants, schools and other businesses like bars where people congregate. And I would say that I am finally used to staying at home all the time except for daily walks in which I avoid any contact or being closer than 6’. The strangeness of living this way—I haven’t driven in two weeks and only went to the grocery store once two weeks ago—has gone and I am beginning to see the gifts of living this way.
I’ve gotten some comments here on FB which say that what good is God if he doesn’t do anything about the coronavirus. I think that people assume that if God is all-powerful, he would fix all that is wrong in the world, especially something that affects everyone in the world like this virus. And since he isn’t doing anything, they couldn’t possibly believe in him.
This assumption about God is way off base, because God does not take away our challenges, or our suffering. What He has promised us is that He will walk through everything with us, but will not take away the lessons that our challenges gift us with. He will hold our hands, hold us in His arms, He will walk with us through our ups and downs, but whatever challenges come our way, he will not fix. These difficulties are the things that bring us out of our egocentricity and allow us to see the community of human beings that He created for us, family, friends, even enemies and people we are normally indifferent to; this is His kingdom, a community of believers who can respond to everyone with love.
There are 6 things we need to remember about God.
- God is even-handed with everyone: “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”[ Matthew 5:45]
- That every human being is made in the image of God. [Genesis 1:27] This means that no matter who we are or what we have done, something of God resides within us dormant until we turn back to God and His ways. Then He works to heal all that stands between us and God so that over time His presence begins to lead and even to be who we are.
- God is always leading people out of slavery to the world, like the Hebrews in Egypt, prospering Joseph in slavery and in prison and Daniel in Babylon, saving Shadrach, Meshack and Abednego from the fire and others. We could look at Jesus’s disciples called out of their normal lives to follow and to become like Jesus, or how He confronted Saul of Tarsus who was determined to get rid of the followers of Jesus and converted Him into a follower. We could also name all the people Jesus healed and released from the physical and mental conditions that enslaved them.
- Jesus promises us freedom if we will follow Him: “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” [John 8:31-2]
- The 10 Commandments are the laws that summarize all of God’s laws. We are to follow these commands and the spirit of the law that is embodied in Jesus’s Two Great Commandments: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength “ and to “Love our neighbor as yourself.” [Matthew 22:34-40, Mark 12:28-34, Luke 10:25-28] If we follow these laws, we will not be cursed in our choices; we will experience God’s blessings. If we don’t, then in our guilt and shame we will be defensive and unhappy and paranoid. [Deuteronomy 28]
- God loves and forgives us all when we turn back to Him. And when we do, He greets us with nothing but celebration and welcome. There is no recrimination. [The Parable of the Prodigal Son, Luke 15:11.32]
These are the major teachings about God in the Bible. There are tons of other passages that talk about God’s faithfulness and love for us. But if we really take in these teachings and stop railing at God for what we want Him to do and instead think about how we are to respond to this major disruption of lives, then we will be asking ourselves these questions:
- What am I learning from this epidemic about what is important in my life right now?
- What are the gifts and blessings in this epidemic?
- What is God asking of me in this crisis?
- What am I grateful to God for right now?
- Going forward, after this crisis is over, what lessons should I continue to apply to my life.
Questions to ponder over the week: What do I believe about God and the challenges that I have faced in my life? Am I angry at God or do I trust Him in all things? What would it take for me to give up my own desires and to embrace what is already true in my life? What is God calling me to right now? And will I do what He asks?
Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who trust Him in all events, dangers, threats. May we rest in His peace and know that He will see us through all difficult times. May we just focus on who God is and love Him with all that we are.
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Check out my other website, deepeningyourfaith.com, for information about spiritual practices and more writings about the spiritual life. New posts 2x a month. 3.30.20.s is entitled, “Dealing With the Pandemic.”