“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1)
As a result of the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic, the world is no longer defined by our distinctive languages, cultures and customs. Now, we are inescapably united and unexpectedly battling an enemy that does not respect race, gender or age. The existence of every individual on earth is at risk, albeit some more vulnerable than others, but no one is immune to the looming peril.
The pandemic has revealed weaknesses within our democracy, our emergency medical preparedness, our fragile financial infrastructure and our social order. The quote attributed to Augusten Burroughs, “When you have your health, you have everything. When you do not have your health, nothing else matters at all,” is playing out in real time throughout the world.
This generation is inextricably gripped within the tentacles of a devastation that will forever change life having the potential to either leave us better or worse for the experience. The images of the multitudes of victims and the carnage that surrounds each impacted community will be etched in the human psyche given the intensity of this pandemic. The high level of anxiety and the plethora of repressed emotions that have been exhumed as a result of this shared experience will not be soon forgotten.
The pandemic has not only revealed societal weaknesses mentioned earlier, it has also brought the entire human race face to face with mortality. Young and old alike must consider the transient nature of humanity as covid-19 spreads insidiously throughout the land and the loss of life is exponentially mounting with each passing day.
Jesus prepared us for this day. Throughout Scripture He taught us how to view our earthly experience, He spoke of the inevitable difficulties we would face in this life (John 16:33), of the brevity of our days (James 4:14) and the perspective we need to cultivate in order to have joy and peace in spite of our circumstances (Colossians 3). He reminded us that this world is not our home (Hebrews 13), he spoke of the deceitfulness of riches (Mark 4) and he encouraged us to reexamine our priorities and identify in what or whom are we placing our trust (Psalm 20:7).
Psalm 84:11 reminds us, “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.” Many of us are now embroiled in potentially dire circumstances with undesired consequences, impacting not only our own lives, but the lives of those whom we cherish and hold dear. It is precisely now, during this time and on this day, that we will be able to rise above the fear, the temptations and the hard places of this life by embracing the truths of God’s word and by remembering who we are in Christ. “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). Our Father and Lord encourages us and instructs us how to respond to these hardships. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6, 7).
God is giving us an opportunity to trust Him. God is giving us a great opportunity to show our children and others what it means to trust Him. God is giving us this most incredible opportunity to POINT people to Jesus. “And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14).
We have seen God faithfully provide for us over and over again. God has given us his very great and precious promises (1 Peter 1:4). Remember Abraham, “Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised” (Romans 4:20, 21). May the cry of our hearts be, “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).
“Heavenly Father, May the God of hope fill us with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit, we may abound in hope (Romans 15:13). May we come to you, each of us who labor and are heavy laden, that you may give us rest (Matt 11:28). Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by You, O Lord, our God (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”