Thoughts from a Bible teacher on COVID-19...
I have heard or read numerous stories, post, or articles of people trying to explain this new normal. How did we get here? Let's go backwards to when we first heard about the virus in China. A lot of people, including myself, thought it would never come here. I have friends in Wuhan where it supposedly started. As I read their posts, I started to believe maybe it can come here. So what did I do? To be honest, which I am ashamed to admit, is that I scurried to buy masks. I wanted to be safe than sorry. Now, there is nothing inherently wrong with wanting to protect your family, but trusting in a piece of material or bottle of hand sanitizer isn't going to save you mentally, emotionally, spiritually from COVID-19.
A question that always comes up is why did God allow this to happen? It's a good question to ask. No one has the answer. I do not have the answer. My wife and I the other night watch the movie "I Still Believe," which is a story about Jeremy Camp's life and his struggle of faith as he loses his wife to cancer. As we watched the movie, one scene stood out to me. This moment between father and son takes place right after the funeral for his wife. Jeremy tearfully asked his dad some puzzling questions:
I remember I prayed and prayed in this room for Josh to be born healthy. It didn't happen. You prayed for so long for your ministry. Still nothing. I begged God to heal Melissa and he didn't. What I am I supposed to do with that?I Still Believe (Jeremy Camp)
You talk about some loaded questions. How should a dad respond to such tough questions from his heartbroken son. Tom Camp wisely answers:
Are you asking if Josh disabilities are disappointing? Yes they are. Did I have big dreams that didn't come true? Sure. Do I understand why Melissa isn't here right now? No son I don't. I am sorry. I know my life is full. I feel rich and I am proud of this family. Honestly, at the time I didn't agree with what you did and didn't understand it. You chose willingly to walk into the fire with her. Right beside her all the way to the end. But than that is exactly what I would do for your mom and you boys. That's what love is. I got to watch my son do that for his wife. That was a privilege! I don't know the answers to your questions but I do know this that my life is not full in spite of the disappointments. It's full because of them. I am proud of you son.I Still Believe (Tom Camp)
I love what the father said at the end: "I do know this that my life is not full in-spite of the disappointments it's full because of them." What a statement! Let's think about that statement for a moment. It's clearly coming from the Bible. The Bible tells us that our lives will be full of trouble and turmoil. We can see from the book of Job 14:1 that our days are few, but full of trouble.
Job went through a lot and understood that this life will not be easy. He is right. I like to think that I will live forever on this earth. When something like COVID-19 comes up, I feel like it's destroying my life (plans, dreams, securities, etc.) We forget the part of Job that talks about our days being few. It's true if you if think about it. Our life is so short on earth compared to eternity. COVID-19 reminds us just that. People are either glue to the TV screen hoping that there will be answers or they are filling their lives with distractions, to replace the reality at hand. I have tried both and both have not answered the problem. What we need is God. COVID-19 should draw us to the one who is in control and that is God. Paul in Colossians 1:16-17 states:
For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (ESV)
The last part of that verse tell us that God holds all things together. Think about that for second. There is a God who is in control. Really? I know it hard to admit. I have been a Christian for almost 20 years now and forget that I serve a God who holds all things together. It's true. My sinful nature wants to tell me otherwise. God knew COVID-19 was going to happen and it was not out of His control.
Humans want to believe otherwise. We think we can play God by coming up with ways to solve problems. If you look at history, we do come up with ways to handle problems, but at what cost? When does it end? How do we solve the next crisis? Isaiah was right when he said:
I form light and create darkness;
I make well-being and create calamity;
I am the LORD, who does all these things.
“Shower, O heavens, from above,
and let the clouds rain down righteousness;
let the earth open, that salvation and righteousness may bear fruit;
let the earth cause them both to sprout;
I the LORD have created it.
“Woe to him who strives with him who formed him,
a pot among earthen pots!
Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’
or ‘Your work has no handles’?
(Isaiah 45:7-9 ESV)
Isaiah points out that those who try to ignore the Creator or challenge God's right to do His will, they will face misery, which is what the word "woe " means in the passage above.
I want to go back to Tom Camp's statement and say that my life is full too! God has always been there for me during the challenging times of my life. He was there for me during my mom's cancer and death. He was with my wife and me as we lived in China and Hong Kong for five years. He has been with us through our first adoption and now our second, as we go through the waiting process to bring our son home.
How am I going to handle COVID-19? By declaring that my life is full and God has and will continue to teach me things as I go through these challenging days. I have already seen Him at work through interactions with friends, family, and neighbors. People are asking questions why is this happening, which is opening the door to the Gospel. We need to stop looking for ways to handle this problem on our own and look to the Creator, who knew this was going to happen before eternity began, as our source of strength. Isaiah made the point: either we are with God or against Him. I want to be on His side. I am praying that more people will see God and experience the freedom that only comes through His son Jesus Christ! Amen!