In a few short weeks COVID-19, a virus that almost no one had heard of a few months ago, changed the world. We are experiencing what many medical experts consider the most serious pandemic in 100 years. COVID-19 cases have skyrocketed. The death toll is frightening. The lightning-speed spread of the coronavirus has caused both federal and state governments to take drastic measures.
Schools have been closed. Sporting events have been canceled. Stores have shut their doors. Churches, mosques, and synagogues are empty, conducting worship services largely online. Businesses have furloughed their employees. States have issued “stay at home” orders. Unemployment is at an almost all-time high. The stock market has plummeted. Millions of Americans have lost almost all their life savings. The entire economy is on an extremely shaky footing. We wonder, Will life ever be the same?
Worry and anxiety have gripped millions of people. They are afraid that the coronavirus may strike them next. They hear the rising death toll and quake with fear. They are concerned about their children, grandchildren, or elderly parents. They fear financial devastation. Many are worried they may not be able to pay their rent or their mortgage. They are concerned about a business that has closed, and fearful they will not have a job when this pandemic is over. For some it’s even more dire: they are concerned about how to feed their families. Uncertainty about the future is all around us.
The Word of God provides real-life examples of God’s people in crisis, and how they developed deeper trust in trying times. These biblical stories reveal faith-building eternal principles. They were written in another time and another place, but they speak to us at this time, in this place. They were written centuries ago but speak with relevance in the twenty-first century to a world devastated by a death-dealing pandemic.
GOD IS STILL IN CONTROL
Judah faced an existential crisis. Destruction and death were at its door. Catastrophe seemed certain. The great Assyrian king Tiglath-pileser III was on a rampage to extend his empire. He had already conquered much of Western Asia. Uzziah, king of Judah, was the leading figure of resistance against Assyrian aggression. Uzziah reigned for 52 years (790-739 B.C.). During his reign the nation prospered. Desert areas were reclaimed. Jerusalem’s walls were fortified. The nation expanded its territory. Judah prospered largely because of Uzziah’s faithfulness to God. But in an act of arrogance and presumption, Uzziah attempted to burn incense in the Temple and was immediately stricken with leprosy and eventually died. The nation was devastated. Their longtime ruler was dead. Doom seemed certain. People were paralyzed by fear. An enemy invader was approaching, and there seemed little they could do about it. They were helpless and hopeless.
At the time of this catastrophe, Isaiah writes, “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple” (Isa. 6:1). In the midst of a crisis heaven’s throne is not vacant. God reassured His people that He was still in control. He was still sovereign. The crisis did not catch God by surprise.
God does not leave us alone in times of our greatest trials. Pandemics rage, but God is still on His throne. An enemy invader, COVID-19, ravages the land, but in these trying times we can learn lessons of trust. When fear gives way to trust, peace floods into our lives. Isaiah reassured God’s people with a powerful promise. His message comes echoing and reechoing down the corridors of time. “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever” (Isa. 26:3, 4).
When disease ravages our land, when our bodies are racked with fever, when life seems to be falling apart, we can still trust. We can trust that through His Holy Spirit, God is with us. He is strengthening us, encouraging us, supporting us, giving us hope of a better tomorrow, pointing us to the day when sickness, suffering, and heartache will be no more.
GOD’S PROMISES ARE STILL VALID
A pandemic cannot void God’s promises. COVID-19 has not erased the assurance of God’s eternal Word. The coronavirus need not cause a crisis of confidence in God’s ability to solve our problems and provide for our needs. It can lead us to deeper faith, greater trust, and more secure confidence in God. Amid our greatest challenges, God’s promises are still there.
I have seen this powerfully demonstrated in my own life. My father became a Seventh-day Adventist when I was 13 years old. As the result of his commitment to keep the Bible Sabbath, he lost his job. In addition to that, Dad made the decision to be faithful in returning his tithe and offerings. To meet the needs of our family, Dad worked three part-time jobs. Life was not easy. But I often remember him quoting two Bible promises.
When I wondered how God would provide for us, in his quiet, confident manner Dad would first quote Matthew 6:33: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Then he would add Philippians 4:19: “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
Dad’s faithfulness and settled confidence in God gave our entire family assurance that in our time of trial God would come through—and He did. We may not have had all the luxuries of some families, but we had something worth much more—a father who was faithful to God and gave us the assurance that we could trust God with all our needs.
When times are tough and our finances are limited, trusting God in these trying times is an act of faith. It’s saying, “God, I believe You can care for me. I place my life in Your hands. I believe Your promises.” Giving is a tangible expression of our faith.
The very essence of the Christian life is trust. It’s trusting God with our finances, our health, our time, our very lives. It’s faith that the living Christ who has provided us salvation through His grace and power through His Holy Spirit will fulfill His promise to supply our needs. It’s trusting even during a global pandemic that affects our lives and the lives of those we love.
When we trust God in trying times, it gives God the opportunity to do for us “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Eph. 3:20). It opens the door of our hearts to receive His abundant blessings. Faith enables the riches of heaven to flow into our lives from His abundant storehouse of grace.
God is still in control in every crisis. A terribly devastating pandemic doesn’t wipe out His promises. Living lives of trust, we are secure in His love, today, tomorrow, and forever.