Finding Purpose in a Pandemic
Uncertainty, left unchecked, is a tyrant landlord who bangs on the door of your chest constantly asking for the emotional rent not currently in your possession. This is what happens when a pandemic gives way to panic, it is what transpires when tragedy gives way to anxiety and downright fear with a capital ‘F’. And to be sure, there is a paralysis caused by paranoia that can spread even quicker than the pandemic that started it all. So first, let us agree, each to his or herself that fear will not rule the day… we will not bow down to that idol. For in bowing to the idol of fear, in giving way to the spirit of a day seemingly not under the Lordship of Christ, it is analogous to feeding oxygen to a fire. Upon receiving the oxygen, the fire rages and spreads out of control. Let us become the individual that when the tyrant landlord of panic and anxiety bangs on the doors of our collective chests, we answer and say: “You are not welcome here, you could not even breath the air if I let you in.”
How, you might say does one go about such a cataclysmic shift in thinking and attitude? How does one avoid paralysis by paranoia?
I answer in five ways:
- Develop a healthy view of God. When crisis of this nature arrives unwanted on our front door step, often times it reveals that our view of God, and that the earth is the LORD’s and everything in it, is both lacking and skewed. The poetic praises we sing about trusting God ring a little hollow if we are lacking a substantial understanding of the One to whom we sing. But as C.S. Lewis wrote, “courage, dear heart” because challenging days present a unique opportunity to know and experience the presence of God. Afterall, God’s enduring presence is His unfailing provision for every believer.
- Kick the illusion of control to the curb. Those of us with a western mindset immediately think about controlling the crisis. Sure, we should exercise the common-sense God gave us and be good stewards of health (i.e. social distancing, good hygiene, minimizing travel, etc.). But common sense and control are two completely different things. So, let’s state it clearly, GOD IS IN CONTROL and control is a responsibility that will never rest on the shoulders of a Christian.God is sovereign and we are servants of his decreed and desired will. Jesus spoke of God’s control and care, What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.
- Christians have a responsibility. COVID-19 doesn’t change any of the commands issued in the Scriptures, which could all be summed up in one of two ways. First, Paul began and ended the book of Romans with the phrase, obedient to the faith. Secondly, Jesus taught, “ ‘You must love the Lordyour God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”Therefore, complete obedience to the faith looks like loving God and loving those nearest to you.
- The church hasn’t gone on vacation. When the wisest course of action requires no large gatherings, it challenges our mental map and model of church. But here is a magnificent truth from history: the Church has experienced its greatest growth when it could not gather in large crowds. Also, the church has repeatedly throughout history changed the world for the better in and through a wide array of cultural crisis.
- God has a plan, and it will involve Jesus being made known. Jesus holds all of creation together… even as those created by him continue to rebel in unspeakable ways… and Jesus will somehow bring about his purposes, even in a pandemic. So, hold tightly to the truth that, “Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.And know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (Ephesians 1:4).
Be smart and a good steward of the health God has given you
But refuse the passive route of fear and anxiety
For God is on the move, He has always been on the move
His mission cannot be contained, controlled or quarantined
So find ways to love well, for in doing so, others will experience the love of God.