Tag Archives: Hope

Where is God During a Pandemic?

As the Covid-19 virus continues to destroy lives, fuel fear, and dismantle the global economy, it is reasonable to ask where God is and why He hasn’t intervened to stop this plague. Doesn’t He care about our pain and suffering? What reason could He possibly have for allowing this pandemic to spread and upend our way of life?

These are good questions that God is not afraid to answer. In fact, He welcomes them. The prophet Habakkuk asked similar questions thousands of years ago when he observed the demise of his people on the horizon. He asked God, “How long, O Lord, must I call for help but you do not listen! Violence is everywhere, I cry, but you do not come to save” (Habakkuk 1:2, NLT). Many of us are probably asking God similar questions today.

In response, God informed Habakkuk that He was very much at work, influencing global events in a way that would bring salvation to His people and preserve them from destruction. He outlined His plan of salvation, recognizing that in doing so Habakkuk would raise more questions and express concern that God’s plan made no sense.

Similarly, God has a plan in the midst of the Covid-19 global pandemic. And like Habakkuk, we probably wouldn’t understand (or agree with) that plan if God were to reveal it to us. Why? Because He tells us, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, says the Lord” (Isaiah 55:8, NKJV).

We are almost exclusively focused on the temporal – the here and now. We live our lives largely fixated on this world and our physical role in it. God, on the other hand, is as concerned about our eternal future as He is our present, and with our spiritual condition as He is our physical. Against that backdrop, it appears God is using the coronavirus pandemic to accomplish several things.

First, He is drawing a hurting world to Him. Often we have little interest in God until we reach a point of desperation in our lives. Despair, anxiety, and severe trials have a way of sending us in search of God – which a life of comfort, prosperity, and leisure rarely do. He is using the pandemic, then, to remind us of the importance of our spiritual lives. Encouraging us to explore a relationship with Him; and to place our faith in Him and not the world.

Second, He is removing many of the activities that separate us from Him. The lure of worldly distractions – such as entertainment, shopping, travel, sports, and hobbies – consumes our lives. Our lives, it seems, are oriented toward enjoying life and the pleasures of this world. For Christians, these diversions significantly diminish our time with the Lord and weaken our faith. Our focus on these pursuits has infected our hearts and damaged our relationship with God. As our love for worldly interests grows, our love for the Lord wanes. But in His mercy God is calling us back to Him. To kindle revival in our hearts and pursue Him with the same passion we have pursued the things of this world for so long.

Third, God is exposing the fraudulent worldview that man is the master of his fate and this world. Government leaders, the exceptionally wealthy, and the extraordinarily powerful all believe they alone control their destinies, as do many ordinary men and women. The Covid-19 virus lays bare the inaccuracy of this belief, and should produce in us a spirit of humility, recognizing that we are not in control of our lives. It should lead us to humbly seek God’s protection, guidance, and healing, and fully yield our lives to Him.

Fourth, God is revealing His peace, hope, and comfort in this turbulent time. The pandemic has produced alarming amounts of anxiety, fear, and despair. Many feel despondent over the risk of infection. Others watch in horror as their economic livelihoods collapse. Some are so scared they irrationally hoard toilet tissue and sanitary wipes. A degree of hopelessness hangs in the air.

If you are experiencing these emotions, consider the following verses: a) “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7); b) “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him” (Psalm 42:11); c) “The 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 God(2 Corinthians 3b-4).

Fifth, God is reminding us that life and faith are best expressed by acts of sacrifice. Thousands of medical personnel and first responders are sacrificing their safety (and in many cases their lives) to treat and care for those on the cusp of death. These selfless acts are an excellent reminder of how Christ calls His followers to live: to daily commit ourselves to serving others, caring for the downtrodden and marginalized, and loving others sacrificially, putting their well-being ahead of our own. And not just in times of a global pandemic or natural disaster, but every day.

Let me close by saying God created this world free of pain, suffering, and disease. But sin – man’s disobedience and rebellion against God – introduced those horrific conditions into this planetary paradise. However, the time is coming when God will create a new earth and establish His kingdom in it for all eternity. And those who place their faith in Jesus and surrender their lives to Him will live with God there.

The Bible describes eternity like this: “[God] will dwell with them, and they will be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there will be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There will be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:3-4, NKJV).

With that perfect world waiting for those who call on the name of Christ, I encourage you to turn to Him in this difficult time. Surrender your life to God and begin to build a foundation of faith during this chaotic global event.

God’s Grace.

One of Jesus’ most powerful parables is also one of the most well known: the story of the prodigal son. In terms of offering hope nothing matches the incredible story of God’s redemption and grace.

You may recall that the younger of the father’s two sons demanded his inheritance before his father died. It was an audacious and arrogant ultimatum but one the father agreed to honor. Upon receipt of his share of the estate, the son sets off for a foreign land where he quickly squanders the funds on riotous living. Destitute and starving, he lands a menial job feeding swine. For a young Jewish boy nothing could be more humiliating. He had hit rock bottom.

In time he comes to his senses and decides to return home. Certain his behavior has permanently severed the relationship with his dad, the son develops a narrative he hopes earns his dad’s mercy: “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant” (Luke 15:18-19, NLT).

The son believes his father loves him conditionally. As long as he acts uprightly, honors the family name, and doesn’t rebel, his father will love him. But any shameful or inappropriate behavior will cause that love to cease. In light of his debauchery the son concludes his dad no longer considers him family. His only hope lies in offering to work as a servant.

Does that reflect your view of God? Have you failed Him in the past and now believe He no longer loves you? Has a lifetime of rebellious behavior led you to conclude you can never be part of God’s family? Do you share the prodigal son’s view that you have to earn God’s mercy or that His forgiveness is conditioned on acts of contrition? If so, you’re going to love the rest of this story.

As the son approaches home his dad sees him and races out to greet him with hugs and kisses. Awash with joy, the father ignores the entreaty his son has rehearsed and instead tells the servants to bring a luxurious robe, the family ring, and comfortable sandals for his son to wear. What’s more, he instructs the staff to kill the prized calf and prepare a feast. It’s time to celebrate! What a remarkable contrast to the reception the prodigal son expected.

Jesus’ point could not be clearer. God loves unconditionally. Nothing we do – no sin, no act of rebellion – can separate us from His love. Equally comforting is the fact that we do not have to work our way back into God’s favor. He extends mercy to all who ask and does not insist we earn it.

Have you avoided God because you assumed He wouldn’t want you? Have you languished in despair over the idea that too much evil has flowed from your heart to earn God’s grace? Have you avoided committing your life to Christ because you believe He only calls the righteous? Well take heart. None of that is true.

God’s mercy and forgiveness await all who come. Like the father in the parable, He stands ready to receive you and enthusiastically awaits your arrival. Isn’t it time to take that journey?

You are the beloved of God.

Most of us yearn to experience genuine, unconditional love in our lives. We seek absolute, unqualified affection from family, friends, and confidants alike. Such love inspires us to pursue bigger dreams than we ever imagined and motivates us to achieve greater accomplishments than we ever thought possible. Unconditional love encourages us to move past our failures and shortcomings and try again. Authentic love liberates us from the despair, discouragement, and hopelessness that paralyze and demoralize us. True love is the most integral input to a satisfying, fulfilled life.

Sadly, millions of Americans find such love elusive in an increasingly cold and impersonal world. We plod through life unaware of the power and hope produced by unconditional love. It appears too remote – like a desert mirage that lies just beyond our reach. We hunger for it desperately but consign ourselves to a reality that we will never possess it.

That is unfortunate since each of us has immediate access to a relationship grounded in a deeper, more authentic love than we have ever experienced. It is a love predicated on the majesty and glory of our Creator and not on our worthiness. We can never earn such love, yet we need not try because it is already ours. God’s love for you is not conditioned on doing anything to warrant it. He extends His affection because doing so brings Him pleasure.

You are dear to the heart of God. He cherishes you. He views you fondly. You are precious in the sight of God no matter what deeds darken your past. He wants to take you forward to a future filled with meaning and purpose. His love will break the shackles of regret and shame that destroy you. You are His beloved!

Take some time to revel in that truth. God loves you irrespective of how insignificant, how unworthy, or how unlovable you view yourself. He loves you no matter the stain of past behavior, the bleakness of current circumstances, or the futility-filled future you anticipate. God will restore you from the past, transform your present condition, and infuse your future with hope. That is good news. Indeed it is the Great News of the gospel.

Keep in mind, though, as the beloved of God we should not expect a life of comfort, pleasure, leisure, and luxury. God does not award in this life His beloved with an absence of trials, challenges, pain, or struggles. Instead He uses difficult events to transform us, draw us closer to Him, and teach us to trust Him. We learn to view the world through His eyes, to share His love with others, and to adopt His priorities. In the process we discover a life overflowing with significance and joy. For evidence we need look no further than the Son of God, Jesus Christ.

The apostle Matthew recounts three instances in which God calls Jesus, ‘My Beloved,” (see Matthew 3:17; 12:18; 17:5, NKJV). On each occasion Almighty God asserts, “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” We learn three things about Jesus in these verses.

  • He is the beloved of God.
  • He is the Son of God.
  • He has pleased God.

We might expect someone with these credentials to enjoy a long life filled with material blessings, career success, abundant prosperity, and the absence of pain. Yet Jesus endured a short life (thirty-three years) marked by ridicule and contempt from his peers, crammed with suffering, and which lacked worldly riches. His life refutes the perception (often taught as doctrine) that God rewards His people with health, wealth, pleasure, and comfort. In fact, no one ever pleased God as fully as Jesus did yet He died impoverished and despised, and suffered a brutal, unjustified death at the hands of those who hated God.

While none of us may undergo such a similarly vicious conclusion to this world, we ought to recognize that a life pleasing to God is often accompanied by trouble, anguish, and toil. Such experiences do not reflect the absence of God in our lives but rather allow us to reveal His strength, love and power to those around us. In view of Jesus’ life and death we should recalibrate our expectation of what it means to be beloved of God.

Like Jesus we ought to pursue lives that align to God’s will, advance His agenda, and bring Him glory – not in a futile attempt to earn His favor and unconditional love but in recognition that we have already received both. Our desire to please and serve Him ought to be born of our awareness that He gives our life meaning, fullness, and hope. Those in turn equip us with the resolve to follow Him no matter the cost.

Does your life enjoy the unconditional, authentic love of God – a love that sustains you through whatever trials life places in your path? If not, call out today and ask Him to reveal His deep, abiding love to you, His beloved. When he bestows that affection on you remember it may not improve your circumstances (indeed they may get tougher) but it will equip you with the strength to overcome them. And living in that love makes life much more joyous, meaningful, and hopeful.