As we grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic and its repercussions, we may wonder what God is trying to tell us through this affliction. I don’t pretend to have inside information into the divine mind, but as we read the Bible, a pattern emerges as to what God is saying to the human race in times of calamity. I believe he is communication the same message to us today:
- “Trust me” – Every crisis has the innate ability to bring our fears to the surface. God understands this mechanism, which is why the most repeated command in the Bible is “Fear not.” It’s certainly easier said than done, but the key to not being afraid is knowing why: God is trustworthy. Throughout the Bible, the Lord calls us to believe him, to trust him, to have confidence that he is with us no matter the circumstances. He longs for us to hold on to the fact that with him, we have no reason to fear.
Critical situations are always a test of faith. If we read the Psalms, it seems that David and the other psalmists went through one disaster after another. They struggled with doubts, fears, and anger. And yet, at the end of the day, they always recognized God’s faithfulness and placed their trust in him.
- “Repent” – There is nothing like a crisis to invite us to take stock of our lives. God’s call to repentance isn’t to be mean or to control us. He desires to save us from the consequences of our sin. What exactly is repentance? It means agreeing with God that something is wrong and deciding to stop doing it. In other words, it’s turning away from sin and to the Lord.
Under the Mosaic Law in the Old Testament, there was a direct relationship between Israel’s disobedience and God’s punishment in the form of plagues, famines, or wars. But Christ changed that by taking God’s wrath upon himself when he died on the cross. Consequently, God no longer pours out his anger whenever humans rebel. Suffering happens because we live in a world dominated by sin and the devil. When Jesus was asked about the tragic deaths of several Israelites, he denied that their demise was a punishment from God. However, he continued with these words, “but unless you repent, you too will all perish.” (Luke 13:2-5) He wanted to remind his listeners that someday they would face their Creator, and they better be ready.
If you’re like me, a long-term believer, it’s tempting to compare ourselves to “sinners” and consequently let this message bounce off of us. But we would be wise to remember that God was often addressing his people. Last I checked, no one is perfect, and every one of us has a reason to repent.
- “Draw near to me” – God created us to have a relationship with him that is characterized by love and joy. Tragically, this bond was broken when humanity believed the lies of Satan and disobeyed the Lord. Fortunately for us, God’s desire for fellowship has never waned, and he uses every opportunity, especially times of crisis, to call us to turn to Him and draw close.
No matter where we stand with our Creator, we can always come nearer. If we are far from God and running in the opposite direction, he loves us anyway and beckons us to take a step towards him. If we have been walking with God for years, he warns us against falling into a routine or becoming complacent. The Lord uses difficulties to encourage us to enter into deeper levels of intimacy with him.
- “Prepare for eternity” – Every single one of us will exit this world someday (either by death or Jesus’ return, whichever comes first), but we tend to push this truth back into the far recesses of our mind. When a calamity hits, we come face to face with our mortality. God wants us to be ready for that moment when we enter eternity.
How can we be prepared? Jesus promises eternal life to anyone who believes he is the Savior and chooses to follow him as a result.
God is always communicating with the human race, but countless worldly voices clamor to drown out his words. Consequently, the Lord allows times of distress to turn our ears towards him. Are we listening?