Brothers and Sisters,
We must be careful how we speak and think; or think and speak. Have you noticed the dual mindset at work in our world at the moment? On the one hand, we’re very ready to step beyond COVID-19 and get back to “normal.” On the other hand, we have a sense – which we voice often, in many different ways – that the world will never be “normal” again. Instead, we speak of the “new normal,” a term I don’t particularly like. Not to get off on a tangent, but I’m concerned that speaking of the “new normal” risks giving “experts” an outsized and inappropriate role in defining what life should look like post-pandemic. No, I have no intention of wearing a mask for the rest of my life or staying six-feet from everyone else for years to come, vaccine or no vaccine. It is right that we acknowledge the ways in which the COVID pandemic has transformed, is transforming, and will transform our world. Certainly, there are events in history, usually cataclysmic, after which everything changes – the plagues of Exodus, the rise and fall of empires, the Black Death of Europe, and World War II, just to name a few. But, as Christians, it’s important that we step back and consider the larger perspective.
The larger perspective reminds us that God rules sovereign over all things, all time, and everyone. From the perspective of eternity, the COVID pandemic is, and will be, just one small thread in the grand tapestry of time. It will appear bright and distinct in that portion of the tapestry which depicts the end of 2019 and the whole of 2020. But, despite momentary clarity, move backward or forward in the tapestry’s illustration of history and you won’t be able to follow the COVID-19 thread for very long. It will quickly become lost in all that God is doing. Think of the millions, the billions, the uncountable different threads our Creator is weaving into the grand story of his glory on display; on display for all to see, and especially for his people to delight over. COVID-19 is just one part, one small part, one brief part, of that masterpiece.
Finally, we must not forget that this tapestry God is weaving means something for each of us personally. I don’t know all that God is doing with COVID-19, but I do know some of what he is about. And that “some” is enough to sustain us through the long-haul, even amidst frustration at the bumbling responses of fallible human beings (ourselves included) to an overwhelming event. Here’s what I mean…here’s what God is about in this pandemic for you who follow Jesus as Lord and Savior:
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified” (Romans 8:28-30, NASB).
What is God about in this pandemic? Well, in part he’s about working for your progressive, and eventually completed, glorification. God means to glorify you together with Jesus in the day of Christ. He’s about that work for you, and for untold millions of your brothers and sisters in Jesus around the world. As we pray (and well we should) that God would end this crisis and our suffering in it, let’s also pray that he would not do so until he has accomplished all he means to do with COVID-19. In the meantime, we can welcome each day as it comes.
Love in Christ,