IT IS AN understatement to say that we are living in troubling times. Nations around the globe are enforcing drastic measures to try to halt the spread of the deadly novel corona-virus—COVID-19. Tens of thousands have contracted the deadly disease and thousands have died. We are living in an unimaginable situation, in circumstances that have led to great fear and panic. No one is immune from this plague. Life as we have known it is past; a new way of living has begun. All around life seems to have become sinking sand that leaves us without an anchor or place to grasp onto.
What are we to make of this disaster? How should we respond?
As a Christian I have wondered whether this pandemic relates to the last days predicted in diverse passages in the Bible. As dreadful as it is, I don’t see that it fits the final days according to the book of Revelation. However, I do believe that this is a huge wakeup for us all to think about what life is really all about and about our relationship with God.
Many people have mocked God and lived as though life was all about eating, drinking and being merry with the belief that tomorrow we’ll die. Jesus spoke about this pitiful belief in a parable about a rich fool who tore down his barns to build larger ones for his increasing wealth, only to be told that he would die that very night (Luke 12:16-21). When faced with one’s own mortality this view of life is feeble indeed. One only needs to look at the faces of those closely affected by Covid-19 to see the terror they are experiencing. They are already confronting the reality that life, as precious as it is, is very precarious. Most people now accept that this pandemic will get worse; and nobody is immune from the possibility that anyone of us could catch it and may die from it.
In these dreadful days we need to know God. We need to know who he is, how much he cares for us and wants the very best for us. In our times of self-isolation and separation from our normal activities and social networks, we need to know that God is with us. We need to experience his peace and presence with us as we move through these disturbing times. How can we know God?
We can experience the reality of our awesome God through the person of his much-loved only Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. God’s Word tells us that whoever has seen him has seen the Father (John 12:44-50). Of all the leaders of the world religions, only Jesus confidently declares, “I am the way, the truth and the life—no one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Paul writes that Jesus is the exact replica of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation (Colossians 1:15). As we read about the life and times of Jesus Christ, how he related to those around him with love, compassion, kindness and care, we learn more about who God is. Put simply, God is love (1 John 4:16). God is no respecter of people: he loves each one of us equally and unconditionally. That includes you…and it includes me.
We are not alone in these times of great uncertainty and unprecedented peril. Our God is with us. The Scriptures are full of God’s assurance that he is with us, he is our rock and redeemer in whom we can take refuge (Psalm 18). Jesus is our anchor that keeps us safe, steadfast and sure while storms surround us (Hebrews 6:19). Writing at the close of the nineteenth century, hymn writer Priscilla Owens captured this reality in her stirring song, We have an anchor, the words of which are so relevant for today.
Will your anchor hold in the storms of life,
When the clouds unfold their wings of strife?
When the strong tides lift and the cables strain,
Will your anchor drift, or firm remain?
We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Steadfast and sure while the billows roll,
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
Grounded firm and deep in the Savior’s love.
As we move through these difficult days, may we all know the reality of God’s loving kindness, goodness and grace in all that we do.