For many of us, these are the strangest times of our lives. Those older than 30 can remember 9/11. Our friends and families in New York fortunate enough lived through it, and we watched the horror of that time on TV. Coupled with the tragedy was the fear of the possibility of unknown terrorists attacking other places like malls and entertainment venues.
Most of us have experienced natural phenomenon as well – earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes, blizzards, volcanoes, and floods. All of these things have occurred during our lifetimes.
Yet, this particular COVID-19 crisis is different, isn’t it? For most, we have to venture out at some point. We take precautions. We social distance. We wash our hands. But, inevitably, many of us will contract this virus anyway. The way they are explaining it, it’s just a matter of time before that happens and the government wants to space that time out as long as possible so that our hospitals and first-responders can handle the load. We feel helpless and alone.
I think that it is important to realize just how little we have control of, at the best of times. We, especially in the west, have created an illusion that we have control over the time when God calls us home.
The government makes laws that are designed to keep us safe (helmet laws, seatbelt laws, playground laws, and all of the everyday laws that we are told keep us safer). While those things are certainly good, we should not mistake them for real shields. We can be going the speed limit, obeying all of the road laws that we want, and one drunk driver or trucker that has fallen asleep can change our lives forever, or end them quickly. As some popular movies have suggested, real control is an illusion.
I’m not telling you this to scare you. I want all of us to remember who our real shield is and what that really means (Psalm 20):
The Lord answer you in the day of trouble! The name of the God of Jacob protect you! May he send you help from the sanctuary, and give you support from Zion. May he remember all your offerings, and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices. Selah. May he grant you your heart’s desire, and fulfill all your plans. May we shout for joy over your victory, and in the name of our God set up our banners. May the Lord fulfill all your petitions. Now I know that the Lord will help his anointed; he will answer him from his holy heaven with mighty victories by his right hand. Some take pride in chariots, and some in horses, but our pride is in the name of the Lord our God. They will collapse and fall, but we shall rise and stand upright. Give victory to the king, oh Lord; answer us when we call.
Those ‘some’ that David was talking about are those that do not put their trust in the right shield. They are the lost. And they are the lost because they refuse to put their trust in Someone greater than their government, Someone greater than their doctors, or more likely, Someone greater than themselves.
David always put his trust in God. Though he fell a long way when he allowed himself to lust after another man’s wife, David never wavered from his deep-centered belief that God was his true strength. And that strength wasn’t found in himself, in his army, or even in his priests.
Trusting in God doesn’t mean that we should have any illusion that our faith makes us impervious to COVID-19. There were a few pastors that saw fit to disobey the government, not because the government was asking them to do something against God’s laws, but because they confused practicing their faith with arrogance or ignorance. They put their own people in jeopardy by holding services after being instructed not to and were wrong to do so.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are the greatest example of how to put your trust in God. They disobeyed the government because it had asked them to do something in direct conflict with the very Ten Commandments that their faith was based upon. They told the king that their God could deliver them from the fiery furnace, but even if He didn’t, they would never bow down to his golden statue.
We have been promised that there is something far better waiting for us than what we have here. Therefore, we trust in the One that secured that for us: Jesus Christ of Nazareth.