By Megan Danielson
The week of March 9th started off very normal for most people. The world was spinning just as it had been every other day, people were attending work and school as usual, going to grocery stores without frantically buying cleaning supplies, toilet paper and non perishable food items. Small businesses did not foresee financial hardship just around the corner, nor did the elderly or those with low immunity fear their lives being at stake because of a disease. Things changed very quickly one day, and in just a matter of a few hours, our phones, computers, televisions, and news outlets started blowing up with warnings and cautions declaring a coronavirus pandemic, not just in other countries, but right here in the U.S. The advice given to protect yourself was to limit interaction with people outside of your immediate household and stay as healthy and clean as possible.
Upon hearing that news my natural response contained a wide range of feelings. Denial, fear, panic, anger, loneliness, disunity, and a loss of control. I was disappointed that I would not get to do some things I had been looking forward to such as going to a hockey game, to the church celebration, and seeing all my friends in Bemidji, quite petty, selfish reasons to be upset looking back. However, after the Lord had a word with me I saw this whole situation in a new light and gained a different perspective on how christians should view worldwide pandemics or problems such as this one.
The first point I was reminded of is that the God we serve is so righteous, just, mighty, and powerful. Job tells us in chapter 26 of just how majestic and awesome our Lord really is, and that he is the ruler over all creation. “...But the thunder of his power who can understand?” (verse14) In light of this pandemic, we can see just how weak and frail we are and how easily we can lose control. God’s holiness and might is emphasized all the more as we realize this, and shows just how much we desperately need him. Since we know that the Lord has concern for his holy name (Ezekiel 36:21), we also know that he will, in due time, pour out his righteous judgement on all who have profaned it (Isaiah 2:6-22). Jesus reminds us that a broader, lesson can be taken from tragic events in a fallen world:, Luke 13:3 tells us, “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” This time might just be a call to repentance and a warning that final judgement for all will come one day soon. What other lessons could God be trying to teach us during this time?
You may be wondering where the encouraging message is in the midst of this, it just sounds like we are all doomed to the wrath of God and we’d better repent . . . or else. I mentioned this to show that we are weak and HE is strong. We must remember the purpose of our suffering here on earth and that this is not our home. In 2 Corinthians 4 Paul encourages the church not to lose heart because what we proclaim is not ourselves but the good news of Jesus Christ, who’s glory is revealed in our sufferings. The rest of the chapter goes on to describe that we glorify Jesus’ resurrection when we endure trials, for in his death there is LIFE! “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (vs. 16-18) Amen and hallelujah! Our hope is not in what we see for that will pass away, but in the eternal glory that we are being prepared for.
Psalm 46 declares a great promise that if God is in the midst of us, the church “shall not be moved;”(vs 5) and God will be our very present help in times of trouble. That same powerful, mighty, (somewhat scary) God I mentioned earlier, well, HE IS ON OUR SIDE!! He is FIGHTING for the saints!! Verse 7 states that “The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” We need only to “Be still and know that I am God.” (vs 10) It is on him and his strength only that we rely, not our own. May this time be one of humbling ourselves before Yahweh and acknowledging how great he is, while relying and being strengthened by his gracious provisions.
In 1 Peter 5, we are called to humble ourselves in the midst of trials, to be “casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”(vs 7), and to be aware of the enemy’s plans and schemes against us. One of the greatest promises that we can hold onto during this time is in verse 10 “ And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself RESTORE, CONFIRM, STRENGTHEN, and ESTABLISH you.” Because of the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has already overcome this fallen world and taken on all the death and sickness that is to come, we are able to experience an eternity of JOY! Oh, coronavirus where is your sting?! We have no reason to join in the panic and fear of this world, but rather quiet our souls and rest in the Father’s great love and peace. It is his promise that we WILL be restored, confirmed, strengthened, and established all for the glory of the King who has already paid the price and suffered for the sin of this world. It is by HIS grace that we are saved and it will be by HIS strength that we are able to endure until he returns in just a little while!
Let us rest in the promises and character of our God that are steadfast and unchanging, remembering that all good comes from the father. “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good…” (Genesis 50:20). Yes, even this virus will be used for good. This is a season of deepening our faith, resting in who God is, and also getting to do activities we haven’t in a long time! Send someone a heartfelt letter, explore one of your hobbies again, be creative, and most importantly take a breath, be still and do not lose heart.
I’m 19 yrs. old and grew up in the rural Detroit Lakes area, where I attended the Community Alliance Church. I graduated from Frazee High School in 2019 and am now a junior studying at Bemidji State University, pursuing a B.S. in Wildlife Biology. You can find me almost always running, out in the woods, or both. I am involved with an on-campus ministry, Chi Alpha, and am looking forward to connecting more deeply with the HOP church family.