It is an interesting phenomenon, this COVID-19. It has basically brought everything to a standstill.
“Social distancing” has been the by-word for a few weeks now, but, in Ohio at least, I understand that it has been replaced now by the term “shelter in place”. All of this for a good reason – to protect and preserve our health.
Almost every day the news is changing. With death tolls rising and the number of people testing positive for the virus drastically increasing daily, the questions keep on mounting with few substantial answers being provided.
Just the other day I was chatting with one of my neighbors, the one who has in the past told me the he “…and the man upstairs are not on speaking terms”, and he put into words what I believe is the question that most people are asking these days. He said simply, “Where is God in times like this?”
Now I must tell you, I understand that question. I even can sympathize with those who ask it. But I must say that I am almost always tempted to follow that question with one of my own: “Why is it only in the difficult times and situations of life that we ask that question?” (I did not give utterance to that question with my neighbor friend)
When everything is positive, the sun is shining, times are good, the stock market is doing well, our team is winning, our health is in good shape, no one seems to ask that question at all! Why not? Why doesn’t anyone ask where God is them?
I can honestly say that the truth of the matter is that the sin which is within each and every one of us blinds us to the truth. So when things are going well, we tend to forget about God.
But when times are bad, He is the first one we blame. Our sin clouds our perspective of God’s care for us each and every day.
There is not much happening these days in terms of air flight, but have you ever gotten on an airplane and looked out the window and seen a dreary day, dark clouds and perhaps even stormy weather while the plane is taxiing down the runway to take off?
If you are like me, you probably have uttered a quick prayer in times like those – “Lord, help this plane get off the ground!” You may have even quoted a Scripture verse or two like Romans 8:28 – “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Then when the plane lifts off and ascends through the clouds to a level flight path toward your destination, looking out on that fluffy sun-drenched carpet of clouds – the same clouds, mind you – leaves you with a completely different picture: Storm? What storm?
The Scripture verse that comes to mind then is Ephesians 1:11 – “Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.”
Those two verses are keys to help us get through times like these. Romans 8:28 is the view from below the clouds, and Ephesians 1:11 looks at the same clouds from above. In other words, we see that everything works for our good, but it also works according to God’s plan!
So where is God in times like these? He is in control. And He cares for you and for me! And we can trust Him to work things out according to His plan.
But in an even more practical sense, where is Jesus?
Jesus said, “I and the Father are one,” and “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father”. So how do we see Jesus? In John 2, we see Jesus in the town of Cana turning water into wine at a wedding. In John 11, we find him in the village of Bethany crying tears of sorrow at a funeral. Jesus is in a variety of places – wherever you and I are. In the good days (weddings) and in the bad days (funerals), and by the way in every day in between. He is the God of Good Friday, and He is the God of Easter Sunday.
He is Emmanuel – God with us. He is in all places, wherever we are. He is there in our good days and in our bad days. And He is in sovereign control over it all. And the Bible tells us that He is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in time of need and trouble. (Check out Psalm 46!)
Therefore, in times like these, coronavirus or not, the answers to our questions are not found in our government, our medical community, or ourselves.
Trusting in those things alone will only bring more and more anxiety and uncertainty.
But, for a lasting solution to the problems we face, and complete answers to the questions we ask, our hope, our trust, our peace can only be found in Jesus Christ.
Chuck Tabor is a regular columnist for the News Journal and a former pastor in the area. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.