Only a couple of weeks ago, we were all looking on with befuddled amusement at scenes of empty shelves in the supermarkets and shoppers fighting over the last few toilet rolls. “Have these people gone crazy?”, many of us wondered.
Because only a few weeks ago, what triggered the panic-buying was still something ‘out there,’ not really expected to bother us much.
But now, wow! It’s all become uncomfortably real for us. And so quickly! How can things change so much in such a short space of time?
Welcome, Coronavirus, to centre stage.
The sheer speed that change has come to the whole world has left many of us confused, uncertain, anxious even fearful.
And I’m sure it has left many people wondering whether there really is a God, and if there is, whether He really is in charge.
Or is the devil running rampant at the moment, and God can’t (or won’t) do anything about it?
It is my considered opinion – I believe founded on Scripture – that the devil has nothing to do with this crisis of contagion. At least, nothing to do with the cause of it.
He has plenty to do with invoking fear and exploiting chaos, but really, he is powerless to cause this pandemic.
The responsibility for that lies at the feet of God – our loving Father.
“Whoa, Nelly! Wait up! You mean God sent this instrument of death and devastation?” Well, yes, that’s exactly what I mean.
You see, the Bible seems to make pretty clear that God is in control, that nothing happens unless He actively does it, or He gives permission for it to happen. Ask Job if he would agree with that statement.
“But doesn’t that make God an evil god, a nasty being? How can He inflict such misery on so many innocent, undeserving people? How do you reconcile that with a God of love?”
For starters, none of us are innocent before God. We like to think we are, but we are all by nature sinful rebels against God. So what we actually deserve is something much worse than Coronavirus.
But the other thing is that we don’t understand what God is up to. We don’t see the big picture.
And I think God is up to a number of different things in, through and with this pandemic.
I think He is shaking the world so that the whole world realises that they have been building their life, their hope, and their security on sinking sand, not on solid rock. I fully expect to see a great influx of new believers into the Church as a result.
I think He is teaching us Christians to trust Him and be at peace regardless of our circumstances. He is always faithful towards His people, never leaving them, and never forsaking them.
I think He is giving us an opportunity to be generous and loving to our brothers- and sisters-in-Christ. To be generous in these uncertain times may well take a step of faith for us, and cause us to lean in to Him who has no lack.
I think He is teaching us to humble ourselves and reach out for support, encouragement, even financial help. We’re usually too proud to admit our need. But it’s time for that to stop. If you are struggling, reach out.
I think He is strengthening the Church, and local churches, by both of the previous things. As we help each other and depend on each other, we will become a closer family, locally and worldwide.
I think He is giving us open doors to share the love of Christ with people in ways we haven’t seen in our lifetime. We should not waste this opportunity.
I think He is sorting out the sheep from the goats. Those who are truly part of the Good Shepherd’s flock will show it by their continued devotion to Him and to His church. Those who aren’t – those who are really goats – will fall away.
I think there is much more God that intends to do through this crisis, but these are some that I hope will encourage you, challenge you, and bring you peace in these crazy days.
I think – no, I’m convinced – that one day, we will look back at these difficult times and be amazed at the wisdom, the goodness, the perfection, and the glory of our God.
“For I will proclaim the name of the LORD; ascribe greatness to our God! The Rock, His work is perfect, for all His ways are just. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is He.” [Deut 32:3-4]