Leonard: Lord, have mercy
Having been in full-time ministry for 20 years now, times like this are interesting for sure. I funnel my thoughts through a grid of Bible knowledge, history, and common sense as I try to understand “why” this virus is wreaking havoc/being allowed to wreak havoc all over the globe.
I wonder where God is and what he is doing about it. Why is he allowing this? I do believe in an all-powerful, sovereign, all-knowing God and at times like this our human brains can fathom so little when compared to the omniscient God.
We’ve all heard, “The Lord works in mysterious ways.” And while we know he did not cause any of this, I do believe he is allowing it and will bring many great things out of it, but we can’t see that yet. All throughout the Jewish and Christian scriptures, we see his sovereignty over all things, yet sometimes he allows hard times and brings about good through them. Jesus showed his power over death, demons and disease and the greatest victory of all time came through his brutal and torturous death on the day we call Good Friday. Oh, the irony.
Could this have been avoided? Absolutely. We learned about this particular virus shortly after a cluster of severe pneumonia cases were reported on New Year’s Eve 2019 in Wuhan, which is in the Hubei province of China.
On January 9, virologists and other public health researchers identified the strain as a novel coronavirus, which was tied to a specific “wet market” in the city of Wuhan, where they sell fish and other live animals. These markets have been known to transmit viruses before. For cultural reasons in the region, people want to see the specific animals they’re buying be slaughtered in front of them, so they know they’re receiving the products they paid for.
As a result, particles of infectious viruses or bacteria can be aerosolized and, in rare instances, jump from animals to people. I watched a five-minute video that someone shot while walking through one of these markets. It was disgusting and horribly unsanitary. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration would have a field day at one of those markets.
Around the year 1450 BC, Moses was the leader of the nation of Israel as the Israelites fled Pharoah and Egypt, headed to their promised land. As they made their way to the land of Palestine, God gave them certain laws for their protection, the same way we give our kids rules (look both ways before crossing the street, don’t run with scissors, etc.).
Some of these laws had to do with what they ate, how the food was prepared, general sanitary laws on how to clean your house, and what to do if you got a rash or illness (social distancing … go “outside the camp”). They didn’t know about bacteria and the spread of infectious diseases, but God did, and he wanted to prevent them from an outbreak.
Ironically enough, when the Black Plague broke out, many people blamed the Jews, saying that they were poisoning the wells. They thought this because none of the Jews were dying. None of the Jews were dying because their homes were super clean and therefore there were no rats infecting their homes.
Right now we are all seeing our priorities change, and that is a good thing. Not only are clean hands and clean butts a top priority, but family time is literally being forced on us. And that, too, is a good thing (though hard, especially for those of us with kids at home for the foreseeable future).
We’re drawing nearer, sharing our feelings, going on family walks and for once, we’re not rushing from thing to thing. Our kids are becoming friends again because they can’t go to their friends’ houses. Financial insecurity has set in and the future is unknown, and people are praying. Can I get an Amen!
I believe when the dust settles, overall, we’ll be better off. Ask Tom Brokaw or go read his book, “The Greatest Generation.” The generation that lived through the worst of times, the Great Depression and World War II, are considered to be the greatest.
It was the hard times that matured them, made them work hard and had them lean on each other. One of the most seemingly absurd scriptures was penned by Jesus’ half brother James (same Mom, different Dad … imagine those family dynamics, if you know what I mean).
In the second sentence of his letter he wrote, “My brothers and sisters, consider it nothing but joy when you fall into all sorts of hard times, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect effect, so that you will be perfect and complete, not lacking in anything.” Perfect. Complete. Not lacking in anything. Let those words sink in. All because of hard times. Whoa.
This is definitely a trial. One of the hardest most of us have faced, and we don’t know how long these times of uncertainty will last. And so I will trust that the Lord is working in his mysterious ways, calling people to himself and calling people back to himself. Just like when your iPhone or computer is messing up and you have to do a “hard reset,” I believe this is a hard reset for us, if we’ll let it be.
God loves you. That’s what this season of Lent is all about: reminding us for just over one month that God loves everyone so much that he sent his only son for us. Jesus will make all things new someday and I hope that you’ll do your best to let this hard reset be a game-changer for you, for your spiritual life, and your family.
Starting this Thursday night I am going to be offering an awesome weekly video and chat called Alpha where we’ll talk about life, faith and meaning. Cara and I would love for your family to join us. At 7, we’ll all watch a 25-minute video and then immediately afterward, we’ll hop on a Zoom call to kick around your thoughts.
These videos are put out by a group named Alpha. Alpha has been done in 169 countries, in 110 languages, and about 29 million people have engaged with Alpha over the last 40 years. It’s great content. All in it will be one hour, from 7-8 p.m. If you’d be interested in joining, please send me an email.
Hope to see you Thursday night!
Scott Leonard is the area director for Search Vail Valley. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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