I can't help but think, "Someone is going to make a movie about COVID-19 one day." It feels surreal. At the moment, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is recommending 8 weeks of social distancing, which means we should strive to stay 6-feet away from people outside of our immediate families. The White House is encouraging us to avoid social gatherings of more than 10 people. In my neighborhood (on a military installation), we are told to keep our kids off the playgrounds. The U.S. Army has also imposed a travel ban for the next 2 months. Across the world, schools are moving to online learning for the rest of the school year. Various businesses are being forced to discontinue their services for the time being. The implications of this pandemic are mind-blowingly far reaching (and for good reason).
In the midst of this, it almost seems unfair for tragedy to strike. Something completely out of the blue. During the first week of our "quarantine", we got word that one of my oldest childhood friends suddenly died of a heart attack. She was 32-years old. My heart deflated as I thought, "How can her family withstand this tragedy?" And as I was praying for them, I was inevitably faced with a few questions like: how do we face life's uncertainties well? How do we work through the worst case scenarios of life when they happen (because they do happen)?
Believers withstand tragedy by leaning into the Lord. We don't fear the countless "what if's" of life because we know the One who is aware of every detail of every situation, big and small. And we know that while He is sovereign, He is also good and trustworthy. But here's the thing: we don't express our trust in God by being negligent, reckless, or indifferent. We don't express our trust in God by being arrogant, insensitive, or unkind. We intentionally open our eyes and see people and their burden and pain. We walk toward them, and we mourn with those who mourn (Romans 12:15). We see how we can uplift the burden and ease the pain in a practical way as we point to the Comforter of our souls. We see how we can meet others' physical and spiritual needs as we lean into the One who meets all of our physical and spiritual needs.
And this doesn't mean it's easy. It is unnatural to be generous when resources are scarce. And it is right to grieve the suffering we experience in this world, knowing all pain, death, and suffering are deviations from God's original design due to sin. It is God's design for us to live in community, so quarantine and social distancing are opportunities to feel a variety of emotions like fear, anxiety, and loneliness. But in the midst of it all, we call to mind God's story of redemption seen throughout Scripture.
In creation, we know that God created Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and walked with them. There was shalom because His presence was with them, unhindered by sin. We were created to walk with God and live in peace with Him and one another. But when sin entered the world at the fall (Genesis 3), we know its effects were brokenness. Sin disrupts community with God and with one another. We feel this tension every day, and it is exacerbated when the world experiences a pandemic and the best way to mitigate the spread of the virus is social distancing. So in these times, we especially cling onto Genesis 3:15 and the proclamation of the gospel. A Savior is coming–He has come!–and He will make a way. He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). He will restore the brokenness. In fact, the end of the story is always consummation. In the new heavens and the new earth, Jesus will be with His people in unveiled glory. It will be even better than Eden!
Friends, no matter our present troubles, we have a glorious future ahead of us. This future glory is ours in Christ, and holding fast to this promise is the key to thriving in our present circumstances. You see, as we behold Christ, we long for heaven, and in doing so, our present days are filled with true joy. We can endure anything in this life without our joy being diminished because our joy is anchored beyond this world. Furthermore, we have His Spirit. We have the gift of His peace, and this peace of God guards our minds and hearts (Philippians 4:7). It is a peace that transcends all understanding. We have a living hope–eternity with Him–that anchors us in the midst of life's storms. And we trust that nothing can separate us from His love: "neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation" (Romans 8:38-39).
These are not mere platitudes to remedy our anxiety. These are promises from God to His people. If anyone of us doubts His love for us in the midst of our present troubles, we simply need to look to the cross. And then we need to remember Romans 8:32, which says, "He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?" Friends, it is from this abundance that is ours in Christ that we walk toward others in our present troubles. We have a glorious future ahead of us–let's give the world a preview of His kingdom today.
Be sure to check out the free COVID-19 Prayer and Bible Study Guide offered by The Daily Grace Co. by subscribing to their e-mail list (click here). Also, listen to the podcast episode called "Freedom from 'What If'" by Daily Grace wherever podcasts are streamed (click here).