Last weekend I sat down with my friends Greg Cahalan and Steve Keels, pastors at my home church, Good Shepherd Community Church, and we recorded a message for our church body. For the first time in our 43-year-old history, with the exception of a few snowstorms, we were unable to physically gather. Just two days before the governor had banned all gatherings of over 250 people. Our pastors were scrambling and asked me to join them in opening God’s Word and bringing an eternal perspective to this unprecedented Coronavirus/Covid-19 crisis.
In this time, God’s people need to be reminded that He is sovereign, and is not taken by surprise. He is the God of providence who raises up not just Esther, but each of us for “such a time as this” (Esther 4:14). Many people have told me they were touched by all the passages we were able to share emphasizing God’s sovereignty in this and all other situations.
Greg, Steve, and I discussed several passages, including Romans 8, Matthew 6, and Philippians. I appreciated Greg’s words, “Our role as followers of Jesus is to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth. We’re called to be witnesses to Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit. …We want to express our faith through love so that the people around us can give glory to our Father in Heaven.”
While we need to take reasonable precautions, of course, all of us sought to encourage people to resist the bunker mentality that withdraws from others and fails to love them as Jesus commanded us, He Himself being the greatest example for us to follow.
In order to have that right perspective, we have to turn the news off and close the social media feeds. Honestly, there’s only so much information we can handle without being overwhelmed! If we’re going to see the eternal, we have to listen to something other than all the voices of the culture. God’s Word needs to guide us. In fact, the extra time we have because of cancelled events can be a gift from the Lord, allowing us to meditate on His Word day and night (Psalm 1:2, Joshua 1:8), and to lead our families in knowing and trusting Him.
Jesus tells us, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you.” Then He says, “Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27). This means there are some things we can do to keep from being fearful and worried about this crisis. We can go to God in prayer, talk to people of faith, and claim the true promises of God. God gives us reasons not to worry. But in order to trust Him, we’ve got to meditate on His words.
God never promises that everything in life will go smoothly. But we see in Scripture that He does promise us eternal life, forgiveness, unfailing love, faithfulness, joy, comfort, purpose, strength, His intercession, His friendship, and eternal rewards. All who know Jesus are going to have a happy ending. The story is going to have a great conclusion!
So don’t let the Coronavirus or anything else distract you from the promises of God, or rob you of living the life God has given you. Live for Jesus in the midst of this, and you may come out on the other side, as we do so many of the trials of our lives, saying, “God, you taught me more and drew me closer to you through this crisis than any other time of my life.”
God brings Christlikeness into our lives through how we respond to suffering. Our trials are not just meant to be something we endure. Trials, including the Coronavirus, are things that God can use—and desires to use—to cultivate Christlikeness and achieve something in us.
We’ve gotten amazing feedback from our church body, fully knowing that thousands of other churches across the nation and around the world were also unable to gather, many of them for the first time. And many of them were likely talking about the same kind of glorious truths we were. I hope this video discussion encourages you to have a God-honoring perspective:
To access many other biblical perspectives on the coronavirus crisis, visit epm.org/coronavirus, which EPM staff member Stephanie Anderson compiled and which we’ll be updating as we see great new resources. You’ll find articles, videos, and audios that relate to the major themes we discussed in the video. Please let us know as you see other resources we might share. We are all in this together.