I heard on the news about a man who spent his life building up three restaurants in New York City, and who could easily lose his business and everything he has because (except for take outs and deliveries) his restaurants have been shut down. Another casualty of the coronavirus pandemic. Sadly, this is not some rare exception. Many, personally, professionally, and economically, stand to lose everything they’ve sacrificed for, and built up, over a lifetime. Rich, middle class, and day laborers alike are in peril of being reduced to poverty in a relatively short period of time.
But I’m a Christian. God wouldn’t let that happen to me, would he? Isn’t there some special protection to someone who worships him and lives for him every day?
The short answer is: Yes, he would, if that’s his good purpose for you. And no, there’s no “special protection,” like a tailor-made insurance policy that guarantees us favors over our next door neighbor. It could be that God may choose to rescue you from this disaster, even prosper you in the midst of it, or he may allow you to go through the same thing that’s happening to those around you. There is no protective bubble that necessarily surrounds Christians, making them immune to what everyone else is going through. History spells this out very clearly. Even the Bible says as much.
We may ask, then, where is our security? Why should we not be afraid of this pandemic?
Our security lies in one fact: the guaranteed, history-proven, promise of God to be with us in and through everything that happens in the world. If any believer is unaware of this time-tested truth, then this terrible virus, unfortunately, might be exactly what teaches the point.
Let’s say that the Coronavirus wipes out all your finances, everything you worked for, built up for years, saved, and invested. Where would that put you? You would be where innumerable believers have found themselves for thousands of years—in the strong and utterly secure hands of God. You would learn what millions have already discovered, that if you have God and nothing else, you have everything you need.
The best way to look at this unexpected situation (as difficult and painful as it may be) is as a phase in spiritual growth to see how God discloses himself as the Great Provider and Protector the Bible says he is. And the Bible doesn’t say such things just to sound good, or to make us feel warm and cozy, but because that’s the whole point of thousands of years of accurate Bible history. It’s called the “history of salvation.” It describes in the hundreds of ways God has chosen to rescue his people from disaster and death (and poverty), just so that we’ll get the point. After you’ve experienced his mercy and grace in some remarkable way, then you can join the vast chorus of voices who joyfully sing his praises up to, and including, this day.
So have you asked to become an effective witness to his faithfulness in this critical time? He may grant the honor in a form you might not have expected: sickness, loss of a career, or life savings, or something else. Or maybe you didn’t ask to become a witness at all. Perhaps you’ve never taken faith very seriously until faced with a crisis too big to handle. Like the one right now.
For many in the church, this has become fairly routine over the years. They’ve been through it. Our family is not immune. We speak with authority when we say that, just as there is nothing in this life that can’t be taken away, so there is no loss that can’t be restored in this life or the next. This is one of the truths we learn from the Bible, and it works only because God is the author of this classic plot. When you pick up your Bible and read through both Testaments, you’ll learn of the desperate cries for help and the over-the-top rescues. This pattern is repeated in the lives of other believers and we hear them in their personal testimonies.
Maybe we can approach our crises differently. Rather than asking, “God, why would you do this to me? What did I do to deserve this?” Let’s place our trust firmly in the One who said, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).
Let us lift our cries and prayers to a God who loves to answer in a way that leaves us stronger, more resilient, and with a more mature (and relevant) faith, the kind of faith the world needs to see:
Lord, I have no idea what you are doing in all this, but I look forward to seeing what you’re going to make out of it. I know you are wise and good, and that you make all things work together for good to those who love you, and are called according to your purpose. Let your will be done, and show me what my role is in this drama, in Jesus’ strong name, I pray. Amen.
May God bless you and keep you as you rest in his faithful promises:
Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen (Ephesians 3:20, 21).