Brothers and Sisters,
I’m struck this morning by the enormity of what God is doing right now…before our eyes. Remember that God orchestrates events in our world in order to accomplish his purposes, especially his great purpose of glory; God’s great purpose of glorifying himself by lovingly redeeming people out of death and sin and into new life with him. Here we are in a moment where God has shaken not just a city to its core (think Wuhan), not just a region (like Santa Cruz County or California), not just a country (such as Italy), but the entire globe.
If you look at the map available on the first page of this World Health Organization report, you’ll see that nearly every nation worldwide has at least one instance of COVID-19. Making historical judgments about the time you’re in is a dangerous move, but we know as a matter of fact that it’s been more than a century (1918) since a global pandemic last captured humanity’s attention. Yes, the world has been shaken by other crises since then (World War II for one), but that doesn’t change the uniqueness of what’s happening right now. As we observe our situation, we must conclude at least the following: God has called, “Time out!” The Creator of heaven and earth is working, right now, to arrest the attention of people bent on ignoring him.
Now, this conclusion isn’t a hard one for us to reach as people who desire to hear, and do hear, God speak in Scripture. When God shakes our world, we go to his Word to understand his way. Three passages come to mind:
First, I return again to Job, where God speaks to the oceans as he binds them in their place: “Thus far you shall come, but no farther; and here shall your proud waves stop…” (Job 38:11, NASB). If God speaks thus to molecules of water, would he not also to conscious human beings? Is not part of God’s message to us through this disease something like: “Thus shall you come, but no farther. Here I will check your pride and ambition”?
Next, I mark the words of the Apostle Paul as he brings the Gospel to the people of Athens: “The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us…” (Acts 17:24-27, NASB). Is not part of God’s purpose in this virus that those seemingly far from God would begin to grope for him? When they start groping, should they not latch hold of his truth, freely offered by his people ready to share it with them?
And finally, these words written by Moses: “So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom.” We – as humanity generally – are learning once again in 2020 how to number our days. For some it’s a brutal shock. But, if we will learn the lesson, the end is sweet…a heart of wisdom. And if we know anything about wisdom, we know this: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10).
Folks, if you’re like me you are, at some level, a bit frustrated with the panic and “over-the-top” response to COVID-19. Fine, perhaps we’re justified (to a point) in our frustration. But, justified or not, let’s not miss what God is about! Let’s not be blinded by frustration. Stop and be floored for just a moment. The coach has blown the whistle and called for a time-out. Yahweh has chosen to shake the world! Let us stand in awe. Let us run quickly to the Bible and hear what God will say – to us, to our family, to our church, to our community, to our nation, to our world. The Lord has spoken, let all the earth keep silence (Habakkuk 2:20, Psalm 46:10).
(Note: I’m influenced here by the podcast available at this link. While I would not agree with every point made in the conversation, I affirm most of what’s said.)