First, this pandemic and indeed any unfolding crisis is unexpected. We can see the response on a personal and societal level is constantly changing as new information comes in. We are in a state of uncertainly. Yet as we look to the Bible, we see that God does not change. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Heb 13:8). Who he is has never changed and never will change, no matter what is going on in the world. Because God is stable and unchanging, we can rest in him and put our trust in him, despite shifting and changing circumstances.
Secondly, a crisis is unanticipated. No one knew this pandemic was coming. People, including governments and leaders, were caught off guard. However, this was not a surprise to God. He is sovereign, meaning he is aware of events, even future events. Because God was not caught off guard, we can look to him for our response. “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (Col 1:16-17).
Thirdly, crisis is unpredictable. We speak of physical distancing, flattening the curve, modelling and doing our part, yet we really don’t know what is going to happen. However, God is omniscient, meaning he is constantly aware of everything. He knows what is happening. “…your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” (Matt 6:8b). If God knows what is happening, we can continue to trust him for the outcome.
Fourthly, crisis is uncontrollable. People have quickly discovered we are far less in control of the world than we would like to think we are. We cannot control the financial markets, the health care systems of the world or the spread of disease. The result is stress and anxiety. Though this is our human condition God does not remove himself. God is compassionate and faithful. God truly cares what is happening in our world. Rather than watching from a distance Jesus walks with people. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2 Cor 1:3-4) In a time of crisis, some people will turn to God, the one who is trustworthy, rather than to the financial systems and governments that are unable to stop a pandemic.
Finally, in this crisis there is no clear end in sight. We don’t know how long this pandemic will last or what the long term effects will be. It can be easy to spiral into a negative thought pattern, consider worst case scenarios and give up that this is ever going to get better, but God gives hope. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” (Rom 15:13). With God there is always hope for better days.
In the end nothing can defeat God’s love. God cares more about who people are becoming than our circumstances. How can you redeem this time? What is God teaching you?
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 8:37-39)