Social media and news outlets seem intent on convincing us that COVID-19 is either a) an overblown, politically saturated, economy ruining bad joke or b) an unprecedented, deadly health threat that way too many ignorant people are not taking seriously. Increasing efforts are being made to prove the validity of one side or the other. Speculation runs rampant. Even stats have diminished value as both camps use them as proof of their position. Where do we, as followers of Jesus, fit in this swirling fog?
An obvious initial solution to this far left and far right polarization may be to define our own conclusion. Perhaps Option C goes something like this: COVID-19 is a new virus strain that is forcing political and medical leaders to make difficult judgment calls based on limited data and scattered professional consensus. Option C at least recognizes the incredible difficulty those in leadership are currently facing. Perhaps you can write a better Option D.
But even an exercise like that holds danger. Again, in feeling the need to determine exactly what is going on, we often quickly drown in our own bias and devote unhealthy amounts of time and energy in speculation. In times of great uncertainty and question, whether from fear or frustration, I have found it helpful to saturate myself in what I know for sure to be true. From the platform of the known, the unknowns either become easier to endure or accept, or they begin to fade into a new and surprising clarity.
God remains in control. We can trust Him. None of this has caught Him off guard. He’s not reeling. He knows our fears or our frustrations. He knows our current limitations, our job situations, our finances, our ruined plans. He says “Please don’t worry. I am your Father. I’ve got you just like I have the birds and the lilies” (Matt. 6:25-34). “Stop trying to figure it out and come rest. Bind yourself to Me and you will find that my yoke is easy, and my burden is light!” (Matt. 11:28-30).
Has He ever said, “Be still” (Psalm 46:10) in a louder voice? And yet, it is hard for us to see enforced slowing down as opportunity, and the quiet spaces quickly get filled with the noise of our desperate attempts to restart the treadmill of our busy lives. “I don’t want what you can do; I want you. I yearn jealously for the spirit that I created within you,” Jesus whispers (James 4:5).
“Come under your authorities. They are placed there by God and exist for your good,” (Rom. 13:1) the Apostle Paul says, without qualification, while living under the cruel and bloody hand of Emperor Nero. “My Kingdom is not of this world,” Jesus says (John 18:36). “Yet I want My people to live in this world, (John 17:15) to be My hands and feet, (1 Cor. 12:27-31) and to live in such a way that people know that I am in them and they are in Me” (John 17:23).
These words of Jesus are still true, and His call to us hasn’t changed.
Perhaps this virus is a gigantic political scheme. Or maybe it is worse than even the most liberal estimations and millions more will die from it. Is it necessary for God’s people to figure that out in order to do what is required of us today?
If Jesus still walked this earth in physical form, how might He engage with the present circumstances? What would He be about? Perhaps He would be finding creative ways to proclaim Good News to the poor and liberty to the oppressed (Luke 4:18). Perhaps He would have withdrawn to a desolate place to pray (Luke 5:16). Perhaps He would be giving food to the hungry and clothes to the naked (Matt. 25:35-40). Surely, He would be finding ways to encourage and build others up (1 Thess. 5:11). Very likely He would instruct His puzzled disciples, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is His” (Mark 12:17). Almost certainly, to those caught in the emotional and political crossfire He would offer, “My peace I give unto you, not as the world gives it; let not your hearts be troubled” (John 14:27).
His promises, embedded with personal direction, offer hope, joy, and confidence! “If my people will live righteously, if they will love demonstrating mercy, if they will walk humbly with Me.” (Micah 6:8) “If they will love Me first and their neighbor second” (Matt. 22:37-40) then “I will lead them. I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them.” (Isaiah 42:16)
Amidst the cloudiness of the present, His aims have not wavered, and therefore, neither have ours. “Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10)