Encouraging Truth for a Discouraging Time

COVID-19 means a significant disruption of life for most folks in our country, including on the Iron Range. Though I have read numerous articles about the virus and efforts to contain it, much still seems uncertain. There are five things, however, which I know to be true.
1) God is sovereign over all that is currently happening in our world. A recent Babylon Bee headline read: “Latest Numbers On Coronavirus: 100% Of The World Is Still Under God’s Control.” Though “the Bee” is a satirical website, that is not fake news. That is truth the Bible clearly teaches. Ephesians 1:11 tells us “God works all things according to the purpose of His will.” According to Romans 8:28, that always includes His glory and the ultimate good of His people. I do not believe the Lord “caused” this pandemic, but I am confident He will use it for His purposes.

2) Diseases such as COVID-19 are part of the fallen world in which we live. In the past 200 years there have been seven influenza pandemics. The most serious was the Spanish Flu which in 1918-19 infected about 500 million people (roughly one-third of the world’s population at the time) and resulted in an estimated 50 million deaths, including 675,000 in the U.S. The most deadly pandemic was the “Black Death” (Bubonic Plague) which in seven years (1346-1353) killed an estimated 50 million in Europe which was about 60% of the population of that continent. Such diseases seem to be part of our world, a world the Bible says is “cursed” because of human sin. Could this pandemic signal the end of human history? It is possible, but it seems more likely that “this too shall pass.”

3) COVID-19 is a call from the Lord to turn to Him. C.S. Lewis once said, “God whispers to us in our pleasure, but shouts to us in our pain.” It seems the Lord is shouting to us right now. Is the current pandemic God’s punishment for particular sins people are committing? Perhaps, but I don’t think anyone can be certain one way or the other about that. I believe what God is shouting to us is this: “You do not know what the future will bring. Your life is fragile. Someday you are going to die, probably not from this virus, but you will die. It is important to prepare for what comes after death. Turn from your sin and selfishness and receive the gracious salvation I provide through Jesus Christ.”

4) This time of national emergency provides Christians with wonderful opportunities to obey the Lord Jesus and “love our neighbor as ourselves.” The elderly and those with compromised immune systems are most vulnerable to this virus. We should make ourselves aware of how we might assist these folks, especially if they are living alone. If someone is quarantined because he/she may have been exposed to the virus, we should seek ways to help that person. And if we have hoarded food, toilet paper, etc., we should maybe share some of it with folks in need.

5) Despite all the uncertainty surrounding us, we should resist the temptation to be anxious or afraid. No, we can’t be certain of what tomorrow will bring. However, that is true everyday of our lives, not just in the spring of 2020. We should strive to follow the instructions the Apostle Paul gives us in Philippians 4:6-7, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

Friends, may these five truths bring encouragement to you during what may seem like a very discouraging time.

Rev. Dan Erickson, Senior Pastor, Chisholm Baptist Church.

Dan Erickson