The Israelites, Covid-19, and Our Greatest Battle

On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand…

These words comforted my soul as we sang them with our church body via live stream this morning. We are studying the book of Daniel and a message on Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego reminded me that God is with us in trial. My faith was bolstered, my heart uplifted.

Then I looked at the news.

I’d say you’d have to be living under a rock to not know what’s going on with covid-19, but actually, we are all living under a rock because of covid-19. Every day feels a little bit like groundhog day. Every day we wake up, stay inside, and wonder when this nightmare will end. Then we repeat.

Trying to even just process the state of the world is difficult. It’s hard to even quite wrap our minds around how our lives have been upended in just a matter of weeks. This morning as I cranked up the worship music in an attempt to calm my heart, I began to think about the Israelites in Exodus.

God delivered them from the slavery and oppression of Pharaoh. He passed over them when they hid behind the blood of a lamb. He miraculously divided the sea so they could walk through it. And He assured them that He would lead them into the Promised land.

They knew their past. They knew their promised future. And yet, they hovered in the uncertainty of the in-between, a desert space filled with great enemies and dangers.

We have much in common with them. God has delivered us from the slavery of sin. He has passed over us because we are covered by the blood of the Lamb. He has done amazing things in our lives and never failed to be faithful. He has promised to lead us into the Eternal Promised Land where death will be no more and sorrow and sighing will cease.

We know our past. We know our promised future. And yet, we hover here in the uncertainty of the in-between, a desert space filled with great enemies and dangers.

Like the Israelites, our greatest battle in these days is the battle for faith over fear, the battle for trust over grasping. Like them, we face many temptations. We are tempted to turn to idols when God seems absent and we don’t understand what He’s doing. We are tempted to worry about tomorrow, hoarding “manna” in a vain attempt to make ourselves feel secure. We are tempted to run in fear when we hear reports of giants in the land.

Covid-19 is a giant that looms large and seems unconquerable. The battle for faith as we face this giant is a daily one.

Today, I will not trust in myself, in government, in doctors. Today, I will trust in the Lord

Today, I will not worry about tomorrow or the days after. I will look to the Lord to provide the resources, grace, and strength I need for this day.

Today, I will not give in to fear when I hear reports of growing threats and danger. I will lift my eyes to the One who rules over all. 

I’d be lying if I told you’d I’ve been winning this battle every day of this global crisis. My faith is weak and fickle, just like the Israelites, but God is staunchly faithful to me and all who are called by His name, just like He was to the Israelites.

And thankfully, the battle for faith is never a battle we fight on our own. He knows how we are formed. He remembers that we are dust. He knows we could never win this battle by ourselves. So He fights it with us. When our hearts begin to tremble with fear, His Spirit leads us back to faith just as a good shepherd leads a weary sheep to water. Again and again and again.

I don’t like feeling like my life is out of my control, but actually, it’s always out of my control whether I “feel” it or not. However, it is never out of His. It makes me uncomfortable that I have no idea what the future holds, but it gives me hope that I know the One who holds it. Today, I will fight the battle for faith in Him. Tomorrow, He will help me do it again.

God has delivered us from sin and promised to deliver us to that eternal shore. He will surely lead us through the uncertainty of the in-between. He is in our midst. He will help us when morning dawns. The LORD of hosts is with us. The God of Jacob is our fortress.

sars-cov-19

 

 

Election 2016. I Shall Not Fear.

  This election is drawing to a close and I can’t say I’m sorry to see it go. Perhaps, that is the only thing most of us can agree on. It has certainly been the most tumultuous, divisive, and, might I say, ridiculous election I have seen. It hasn’t been pretty to witness what’s happening to this country on either side of the political spectrum.

Though, I can’t help but feel that this election is not so much doing something to this nation as it is simply revealing what we have done to ourselves. We are merely reaping what we have sown: strife, envy, malice, greed, immorality. 

It can produce in us a deeply rooted anxiety at what might lie ahead.  As a mother of children who are growing up in this mess, I am no stranger to this feeling. It rises up and whispers perniciously that I should be afraid. And sometimes I am.

Yet, we are a people of faith and not a people of fear. We trust in what is unseen. Hopelessness is not befitting the children of God who, every day, are being drawn closer to a living hope, an imperishable inheritance, a better country ( Peter 1:3,4, Hebrews 11-16). Therefore, we must combat our fears with truth. When our hearts whisper despair, we must shout back words of hope, for our hope is great indeed. 

Our God is mighty, sovereign, ruler over all. To him, the nations are like a drop in a bucket. He is transcendent and yet, imminent. Both King and Shepherd, He is sovereign over this mess and with us in this mess. He will not falter or fail to achieve His will. “For he spoke and it came to be; he commanded and it stood firm. The LORD foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations” (Psalms 33:9-11).

Therefore, “it is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes” (Psalms 118:8-9). For we know “the earth is the LORD’s and everything in it, the world and all who live in it” (Psalms 24:1). “He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing” (Isaiah 40:23). 

Whoever rises to “power,” Trump, Clinton, is as nothing before Him. Their heart will be in His hand. Like a stream, He will direct it wherever He pleases (Proverbs 21:1).

So, we “do not put our trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save. When their spirit departs, they return to the ground, on that very day their plans come to nothing” (Psalms 146:3-4).

Nations may be in uproar. Kingdoms may fall (Psalms 46:6), but “God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea” (Psalms 46:1-2). Though corrupt and evil men rise to power, though troubles come our way, though darkness and madness seem to rule the day, we shall not fear.

For “the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love…We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in you” (Psalms 33:18-22).

Good Friday Was Bad

The older I get, the more I become aware of life’s fragility, of our precarious position in this world. We are not promised tomorrow, nor even tonight. What’s more, neither are our loved ones. Living is risky and loving is even riskier. Motherhood has made me all too aware of this. From ISIS and the zika virus and just basic human error the endless list of what if‘s could bring a mother to the brink of insanity. I think with each pregnancy, I will confront fear again and again. I can be haunted by the words of Job, “What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me…”

The question then, is what is the answer to the problem of our fears? Is it a blind, unfounded belief that bad things won’t happen to us? Do we just tell ourselves God wouldn’t do that? I don’t think so because we can plainly see that bad things do happen to people. As scripture tells us, God not only lets them happen, but He ordains all that will come to pass. How then can we know that this God, this sovereign God is really good? How may we look our fears in the face, knowing that they might all come true and yet believe that God is trustworthy?

Whenever I wrestle with the sovereignty of God and the existence of evil and suffering, a profound mystery, God always leads me to the surer, solid ground before the cross. We celebrate today, the day Jesus died, and we call it good, but the truth is, it wasn’t really good. Good Friday was bad. Nothing could have been more disastrous, more terrible for followers of Jesus than the death of the one on whom they had pinned all their hopes.

But it wasn’t even just that it seemed bad at the time. It was really wrong. It was really evil and unjust that Jesus, who had committed no wrong, was crucified at the hands of those who had. Jesus himself, when they came to arrest him, said, “But this is your hour when darkness reigns” (Luke 22:53). What a startling statement for the light of the world to make. God purposed that darkness, evil, should reign–but only for a time. For we know that the real injustice wrought by man was, at the same time, mysteriously coinciding with God’s perfect justice against sin and amazing grace to sinners. You see, the cross tells us that God always re-purposes or rather, “supra-purposes” evil and suffering. What man intends for evil, God intends to work for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Genesis 50:20, Romans 828).

So my answer to my fears and worries is not some wishful belief that they will not happen, that they could not happen. As they happened to Job, they could happen to me. All that I fear might come to pass and it might be truly bad, truly wrong. Yet if I follow the logic of Romans 8, the logic of the cross, I find the freedom to walk in faith instead of fear. Good Friday was bad, but now it is so very, completely good. Through His resurrection, Christ redeemed His own death and if He can redeem such a great wrong, He can and will redeem all the pains and sorrows of those He suffered so greatly to purchase. If He can redeem the cross, He can redeem anything and if He can redeem anything, we have nothing to fear. That is not trite, vain hope, but plain, solid truth to which our souls can firmly hold.