Whatever else it is, the worldwide pandemic of the coronavirus is a wakeup call to all. It affects everyone, young and old, weak and strong, rich and poor. We are all affected even if not infected.
Many will ask “What is God saying through all of this?” But that is the wrong question. That question wants to do one of two things:
The right question I believe is “What is our response to the situation we now find ourselves in?”
What did Jesus say after he told the anxious disciples he would be leaving them, sending his Spirit, but would return? He said “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Unavoidable fact: In this world you will have trouble
Strong Encouragement: But take heart
Certain Promise: I have overcome the world
Intended Result: So that you may have peace
In this world you will have trouble
In other words we should not be surprised by the coronavirus any more than by any other trouble that has ventured upon this broken and decaying planet. It not only needs renewal but is looking forward to it. The coronavirus is just another sign that we are not in heaven yet and that the world is groaning, awaiting its coming transformation (Romans 8:19-22).
I have overcome the world
But sin, disease and the curse has not won. We along with this groaning world are awaiting the final glorious transformation into newness. (Romans 8:22). We know that Christ has overcome all through his amazing loving sacrifice for us. We know that he is victorious over sin, death, and the grave. We know that he will return and wipe every tear from our eyes, that there will be no more mourning, or crying, or pain. For the old will pass away and He will make everything new (Revelation 21:4).
It’s like watching a football game again. The first time you watch you are anxious for your team, will they win, or won’t they. You sit in the edge of your seat, heart pounding. But when you know they have won and then you watch a replay of the match, you sit peacefully, enjoying the moment because you know exactly how it all works out. With God we know the end before it happens, he has overcome.
But take heart
So we take heart, right now, in the midst of all this chaos, we take heart. We trust. We have faith. Do we? This is where we return to the most important question ““What is our response to the situation we now find ourselves in?” Faith or fear? Do we take heart, having faith, living in the certain knowledge that no matter what God has us in his hands? Or do we live out of fear, relentlessly trying keep control of our lives, stockpiling toilet paper, just in case, believing that God has not overcome.
So that you may have peace
Simply put what do we believe? Will the world overcome us? Will the coronavirus bring the end of existence as we know it? Do we operate out of fear and panic now that we have apparently lost control over our lives? Or knowing that God has got everything firmly in his hands, and that what we are experiencing is nothing more than a sign of a groaning world awaiting its transformation, we throw ourselves into his arms, casting all our cares on him.
While we are not oblivious or immune to the suffering, and death, and heartache that the current situation is bringing, like Paul we can say “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us (Romans 8:18). Faith or fear, panic or peace? That’s the choice. What is your response? Choose peace in the arms of him who has overcome all. And pass it on – show and tell others these things so that they too may have peace.
This blog post was written by Dr David Smith – Dean of Academics