The COVID-19 pandemic is provoking increased anxiety amongst millions of people, believers included.
This threat is so far outside our personal experience, it is hard to know what to think or do about it. Do you find yourself struggling with some hard questions?
“What if someone I love dies?”
“What if the world economic order collapses, and we end up with famine in addition to the virus?”
It is natural for suffering to make us re-evaluate our faith.
Keep in mind that Jesus came to a world that was familiar with famine and pestilence. There were neither safeguards nor hope in the face of war, famine, or pestilence. No vaccines, no respirators, no government economic stimulus packages. He came to a world that had no answer to crisis or to suffering—just like ours today. For most of human history, hopelessness in the face of adversity has been the norm. While it is natural to ask God hard questions when adversity strikes, crisis has often been where major advances in the spread of Christianity have arisen. People need hope, and adversity forces us to ask questions.
Like the early church, in Christ we have hope. And we have answers! We know that we have an incorruptible inheritance reserved in Heaven for us, “though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials (1 Peter 1:6).”
“‘… God himself will be with [us] and be [our] God. “He will wipe every tear from [our] eyes. There will be no more death” or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’” -Revelation 21:3-4
Those without Christ may have faith in false gods or science. But the false gods aren’t easily propitiated, and in the face of COVID-19, science has been equally impotent. Don’t get me wrong. I have a scientific background and appreciate the power that the scientific method has to answer hard questions. But neither the idolatry of the false gods nor science have any answer for the why of suffering. What we have is a faith that acknowledges the reality of suffering, and asserts that our suffering matters; a God who suffered alongside us, for us; a redeemer who is “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53:3, ESV).”
COVID-19 presents an opportunity to examine our own hearts. Where have false gods of comfort and certainty become idols? We also have an opportunity to minister in a world whose answers to life’s questions are falling miserably, hopelessly short. And we have good news for them!
One of these days, we will be able to leave our homes and return to a “new normal,” to a world that is asking, “WHY?” Will you be ready to “give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have (1 Peter 3:15)”?