People are freaking out. Are you? Stop it!
I’m just like you. My life, my family has been affected by the Coronavirus thing. Make no mistake – it is a thing. Yesterday, Danny called from Boston, ‘Mom, they’re closing school. What in the heck is going on?’ Okay, then.
Today, I got a phone call about the Southern California retreat at which I am to speak next weekend – ‘So far, we are on, relying on the CDC for any change in plans,’ the coordinator evenly spoke. Honestly, before the call, it never occurred to me that the Idyllwild weekend retreat was in jeopardy. Okay, then.
And just a little while ago a text message lit up my phone from my Oklahoma pastor friend, ‘Any chance you might not make it here this weekend?’ Interpretation: has the media scared you out of getting on the airplane? I am to deliver this Sunday’s sermon in two services, you see. My answer, ‘heck no…I’ll be there.’ Okay, then.
But like you, I have no idea how bad it really is, or where it all is going to go.
Now. Stop for a minute. Let’s tap our helmets about what we do know.
~>Christian, you and I belong to the God of the Universe.
As the psalmist penned so beautifully, The Lord is good and his love endures forever.1. You and I are surrounded and embraced by that love. It does not evaporate into the ether.
~>As those who claim the name of Jesus,
as those who believe in Jesus Christ,
as Christians . . .
the Holy Spirit lives in us.1
Lest you skip right over that notion, Friend, the Holy Spirit is not a ghost or a shadow or an ephemeral being, who is here and then gone again; it is not the crazy manifestation of the Pentecostals or Charismatics . . . it is his power that raised Jesus from the dead!3 Let me be perfectly clear here – the same power that raised Jesus from the dead lives in you. [Read that again please.]
So, why are you afraid? Do you comprehend the power that lies within you?
‘But, but – I want to believe that I can trust God through all of this,’ you say, ‘I just have to admit that I am struggling!’ The gospels have an answer for you and for me. In Mark 9.24, the father whose son needed healing said to Jesus, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” You see, God understands how weak our faith can be – try though we might – and he gives us a remedy. Reach out to him; ask him for more faith.
Because even in that, he helps us.
Reading the gospels, I oft think, ‘O, if only I could have been there . . . if only I could have seen, heard and even touched Jesus . . . it would have made such a difference!’
But can I tell you, that I do not really know that is true; you see, if you and I really press into the Scriptures and their context NOW, employing our intellects and available tools NOW, to know what we can fully know . . . we can picture Jesus.
For instance, John chapter fourteen captures the Upper Room setting in Jerusalem where Jesus tells his disciples, his best friends, that he is going to leave them soon. Can I have your attention please? I ask for your attention because I understand people, and distraction, and some are already thinking, ‘what does John chapter fourteen have to do with me . . . seriously, Christine?! Why don’t you tap your helmet – the coronavirus, remember…..hello-ooo?’
It was in that same setting Jesus looked them in the eye and said these words – words that have carried me in my darkest moments, my darkest hours in which I wouldn’t even turn off the light when it was time to sleep:
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.
I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.4
Jesus is the source of peace.
Did you know that the most popular Bible verse, the most ‘googled’ verse in the last year was not John 3.16, though we saw it on Major League Baseball signs and on our In ‘n Out cups? No, it was this one, written by the second greatest teacher ever:
‘Never worry about anything. Not the markets, not viruses…. But in every situation let God know what you need … mental peace?
in prayers and requests while giving thanks. Yes, thank God for his good gifts Then God’s peace, which goes beyond anything we can imagine, will guard your thoughts and emotions through Christ Jesus.5
Sign me up, Paul; I want some ‘o’ that peace right now.
And I should like to close on this note for now: God knows exactly how many years, how many days he has apportioned us – no act of terrorism, no virus or ‘pandemic’ is going to change what God has known about us before we were a ‘speck in our mother’s eye’ – God alone knows the numbers of our days.6 He knew that before 9/11 . . . he knew it before the Coronavirus. Rest in that. Rest in his goodness because his love endures forever. Throw yourself backward into that lavish love of his.
His love does not go out into nothing-ness . . . his love extends to you, to me. It is totally personal.
No freaking out . . . our hand is in the hand of the King!
1 – Psalm 100.5
2 – Romans 8.11
3 – ibid
4 – John 14.27
5 – Philippians 4.6-7, God’s Word Translation.
6 – Psalm 139.16