These are times of tragedy, sadness, fear, anxiety, wearing masks, sheltering in, social distancing, Zoom meetings, wanting to go back to work or school, boredom and just plain tiredness of it all like we have never seen before.
But we who believe in Jesus know that He is always at work in all things, and causing all things to work together for good for those He redeemed. But what “good” could God be bringing about through this pandemic? As John Piper said: “God is always doing 10,000 things in your life and you may be aware of three of them.” We cannot possibly fathom all He is doing. But here are a few things I am sure he is doing…
First, God is showing us how much we need him.
We need God for every breath, and every heartbeat. We need God to protect us, to provide for us, to sustain us, to give us hope, to give us joy, to give us…EVERYTHING. We don’t sustain our own lives. Anything and everything we have is a gift from him. This time is a good reminder of how much we need God. Recently the news said we will probably have meat shortages. This has never happened in my life. What a reminder of our need for God. He is the one who must put food on our tables.
Another thing God is doing is humbling us and humbling our nation
The United States is not in control of its own destiny. This nation can’t make itself great again, and it never made itself great. The only reason our nation has so much is because God in his kindness and mercy has poured out thousands of blessings upon a people didn’t deserve a single blessing. The United States cannot control this virus. If we come up with a vaccine to prevent this disease or medicine to treat it, that is a gift from God. All medical knowledge is a gift from God.
For believers this is a good and humbling reminder. We know that we are not in control, that we are not great, but it is a good reminder for us, as Peter says:
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7
It is humbling to pray. Humbling to cast all our anxieties upon God. Humbling to admit that we can’t solve our own problems.
A third thing God is doing is building patience into us
Most of us hate to wait. We want this to be over now. We want to get back to work now. To get together with our families and friends now. But waiting is good. And God makes us wait throughout our lives. As it says in the Psalms…
Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! Psalm 27:14
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope…Psalm 130:5
But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31
God is building patience in us through this virus. And he will continue to build patience in us for the rest of our lives.
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Romans 12.12
Next, God is using this pandemic to move us to pray
In this time, churches are having more prayer meetings than ever before. Yes, they are zoom or other virtual meetings, but many believers are crying out to God together now. More and more churches are gathering (albeit virtually) to fulfill Matthew 18:
Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Matthew 18:18-20
Another thing God is doing through this virus is building contentment in us
Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 1 Timothy 6:6-8
I bet most of us have never thanked God for toilet paper before. I don’t think I ever thanked Him for toilet paper. Many of us probably never or rarely thanked God that we could push our shopping carts through stores overflowing with whole aisles devoted to snacks and chips and aisles devoted to pet supplies and twenty kinds of coffee makers.
If we only have food and clothing, will we be content? I hope I would be. I know there are nations where they are so poor it is a struggle to get food. I pray the Lord would use this time to help me grow in contentment.
Also, God is using this time to teach us to trust him
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me? Psalm 56:3-4
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5
We must trust God to provide for us, to protect us, to get us through this. We must trust God’s word that he is good and loving when we don’t understand how he could allow tragic and sad things to happen. We must trust that God is sovereign. We must trust that God is infinitely wise. God is using this time, and he uses every affliction and trial to build our trust in him.
Another thing God is doing now is using this time to move us to care for others
Just this morning a woman in our church contacted us and said she had been baking cinnamon rolls and asked us how many she and her husband could drop off at our house. I know others who have made meals for friends that are sick. Many are calling others to see how they are doing in this time. This is wonderful. Rather than being consumed with how tired or bored or miserable we are, let’s look to the interests of others.
The most important thing God is doing now is making believers more and more like Christ
This is the good work God began in us when he saved us. He didn’t simply save us from our sins and the punishment we deserved, but he adopted us as his own children. And he began a work of transformation, making us more and more into the image of his Son.
For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. Romans 8:29
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18
God uses every situation to make us more and more like Jesus. Just as Jesus trusted his Father when he was in the desert for 40 days being tempted by Satan, so must we trust our Father now, and become more like Jesus. Just as Jesus trusted his Father when arrested, scourged, mocked and nailed to the cross, so must we trust our Father as we go through this time. Hopefully it will end soon, but if it doesn’t, we can trust that our heavenly Father is working in our lives, conforming us more and more to the likeness of Jesus.
God is doing more than we can imagine through this time. Someday in heaven, we’ll look back and see all he did in and for us as he took us through this valley. We will see how he was with us. We will see his wisdom and love and power. And we will see how he transformed us into the likeness of his Son.