Surely a God, if there was one, would not allow this Coronavirus to happen. Why doesn’t he put an end to it?

Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven…

Daily, the global news about COVID-19 gets worse. More infections, more death, more isolations, more panic, and more unemployment. With so much uncertainty, it’s hard not let anxiety grip us. The fear of the unknown is a real threat to the erosion of our society and our very own character.  How could God do this to us? Are we being punished? Why is God so unfair? Why would he want this to happen? Does God care about me, doesn’t he know that I can’t afford a Global meltdown right now? For it sure looks like it is that.  Could you ever have imagined the day that countries would close their borders to tourists, to everyone? Could you ever have imagined seeing an elderly couple standing bewildered in the grocery store wondering what happened to all the toilet paper? Worse, no one wants to give them any of theirs? Where is God in this? 

When Jesus suggested how we should pray, one of his sentiments provides a huge clue as to why any bad thing happens on earth. ‘Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is heaven’ (Matthew 6:9-13). God’s will then (when humans are involved), is not done on earth.  Most of the Bible is a compilation of stories about how people fail to do what he wants. Right from the beginning of the Bible when Adam and Eve eat the forbidden fruit, and all the way to the end, where in the Book of Revelations it describes people even coming out to fight the Living God in the clouds, people aren’t doing God’s will. Our entire history is lived in the wrong. We do the wrong thing to people and they do the wrong thing to us because in God’s good creation (his words), he gave us the one thing that has the potential to be a blessing to the planet and his people or to be a curse to it; God gave us free will.  (And then he had a book written to show us many examples of how it hasn’t been used wisely.) 

God didn’t create COVID-19, humans did! By circumstance or design, it doesn’t really matter for the sake of this argument, human interaction and international travel means that we now have a global pandemic that threatens all of us. Could God make this virus go away tomorrow? Heck, yes! But when God willed Christ to come to earth and suffer horrendously while he was here for the purpose of our salvation by God’s grace, he also made a man perfect in his eyes. Christ embodied the perfect will and character of God and in doing so he provided the example of person, of character that we should be. God could take this virus away immediately however, when he’s asked to clean up our human messes, he also provides an opportunity for us to grow in him. God’s more interested in how we react, in how we decide to trust him, and in how we set about serving others, than simply providing a quick fix. Why would God allow such pain and misery, how could he be so cruel just to ‘test us’? 

The greatest example and testimony of God’s will being done on earth is in the death and resurrection of his son, Jesus. This event changed, for the good, the entire course of history! One practical and very relevant example of this is in the early christian’s decision to exercise Christ’s command to ‘love one another’. In the great (flu-like) plague of Rome (250-270AD), it was the christians who went to the sick, feeding, housing and nursing them, knowing full well they were risking their own lives. But still they went: God cares for all lives. This action led to many, many converts and paved the way for the idea of the hospital. (If you want to read more about that, read Rodney Starks, The Triumph of Christianity) 

God never made the promise that you, or anyone else on the entire planet, would live a a problem free existence. In fact his word says the opposite. It states that you will have trials in life, that you will suffer heartbreak but the good news is that God promises he will bring good out of all things to those people that love him. Not everyone, but to those who love and trust him (Romans 8:28). God didn’t will this Coronavirus to happen but he knew it would. He also knows how he is going to help you through it. For it is in our grief and dark moments that God’s grace and promises can be made known. I think that when most people cry out and seek God is when they are in trouble, rather than when they are happy and content. Focus then on what God considers to be good and noble, not on what social media or the news says. Seek him first and all these things (peace and understanding) will be given to you. This is what he promises. This is the good news we need to be reading everyday.

As the world panics around us, may we as Christians be steadfast, loving and generous. What then, could come from our choices to shine our lights and be the love that Christ and God wills for us? God is with us, now and tomorrow as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death.  Because,  that’s what this is. As the world cries out in grief and mourning, may we seek him and may he be found by us. Then, through our tears and confusion we will feel his guiding peace and love. That’s what he wills for us, to know him and trust him daily. 

I am well aware that this is a brief discussion about a vast topic of God’s sovereignty that gives cause and reason for our human identity and condition, however, my purpose here is to encourage and inspire you to think more of it. God loves questions and is not at all afraid of your anger or your doubts. It’s better to doubt than not to think about things at all. 

Is it just me or does isolation feel like a wilderness?

I wanted to start this blog off with a brief look at The Lords Prayer (what a better way to start, right?) however, I feel that Exodus 16 is just as good a place as any.  

Give us today our Daily Bread

Just four weeks after God rescues the Israelites from slavery in Egypt by a series of miracles, including separating the waters of the Red Sea so that they could walk through on dry land, the Israelites are disturbed to find themselves in the wilderness. They don’t like their situation at all and complain to Moses and Aaron about it (Moses being the guy who God appointed to lead them out of Egypt, and Aaron his right hand man). In their opinion it would have been better for God to have killed them in Egypt than be out here in the wilderness. There in Egypt, they had pantries full of food and could eat all the meat and bread they wanted. Here, they are in fear of starvation: ‘How could Moses (and ultimately God) do this to us!’ (Exodus 16:3)

Hearing the people’s complaints against him, God tells moses that he will rain food down from heaven. He says that in the evening they will have meat to eat and in the morning they will have all the bread they want. In doing this God’s intention is clearly stated, ‘Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.’ 

Exodus 16:13-14 says ‘that evening vast numbers of quail covered the camp’ (the meat) and the next morning an edible flaky substance as fine as frost covered the ground. The Israelites called this Manna (literally meaning ‘what is this?). It tasted like honey wafers and they were able to bake with it.  In the middle of nowhere, in times unprecedented to them, as they wandered and wondered what all of this could mean, God provided for them. 

I find it remarkable that even though they had just witnessed (and forgotten) God’s miracles in their escape from Egypt, and had been reassured that he had heard their cries of oppression as he remembered his Covenant promise to their forefather Abraham (another story that sets in motion how God sets apart the Israelites to be his people), the Israelites still needed a daily reminder that He remains their God. Daily, they failed to trust him and daily, he reminded them of his power and grace. By taking them into the wilderness he saved their lives and there he waited and watched for them to grow in trust toward him. He didn’t want them to to just enter the promised land and then forget about him (like he knew they would). He wanted their hearts and minds set on him, no matter the frightening wasteland they found themselves in.

In answering their complaints, God’s grace and compassion towards them meant that every morning the Israelites woke up to an encounter with God. He was there. The Manna on the ground wasn’t just food, it was a daily reminder, a daily encounter, a daily miracle so they would know that he is their God and He is with them always. Should we then, expect that as we pray for our Daily Bread, that we should be expecting an encounter with God? Yes! I wonder, is that what Jesus meant in The Lords Prayer, that we pray for God to show himself to us every day, that he in fact is the Daily Bread? Of course Jesus said something that strongly hints to this, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God’ (Matthew 4:4 – and Jesus got this from Deuteronomy 8:3) 

I don’t know what you personally are going through. I do not know what lies ahead of you, what lies ahead of all us. But I do know and believe this: God is in this moment. He is here and he promises to meet the needs of all those who trust in him.  And in this moment, He wants to show himself to you, to reveal more of his love for you. In calling you to trust him during the darkest time our generation is yet to know, he desires for you to feel peace and to be hopeful.  In providing daily for us, and as we encounter him and his great works daily, he wants us to not be afraid, to not worry but to give thanks for what has has already done, and what he will do for us. Then, when we can do that, we can be the light of hope for our families and communities. #bethelight

Coronavirus inspired me to read The Bible (and to make this blog).

In March 2020 the novel virus, Coronavirus Sers Covid-19, changed the world. Countries around the world closed their borders, stopped working, and sent their people into isolation to deter the spread of the potentially deadly virus. As the virus took hold, thousands of people lost their lives and hundreds and thousands more were sick. Economies were at a standstill. 

On March 16 my husband, John, returned to Australia from a five day trip to Los Angeles.  That day, any arriving passenger from overseas was ordered to remain at home in quarantine for two weeks. Arriving home, John coughed a little and felt rundown. Four days later I had a headache. John was declared Covid-19 positive on the 23rd of March. My results came back positive on the 28th. Rough days. 

I began writing this blog, my Counter Covid-19 attempt to Be the Light to a worried and isolated at the beginning of March when the news of virus was spreading faster than the virus itself (at least in Australia). I managed to write four posts before I no longer felt well enough to read or write.  It was a long sickness and it has been a long recovery process. I had a slight cough that I could not shake. Finally on the 4th April both the Public Health department and NSW Health declared me officially recovered. I’m a Covid survivor. I had no previous illness or concerns and this virus knocked me flat. It was the sickest I have ever been in my life. I did not go to hospital. I suppose I am one of the lucky ones. John was sick too but in some ways I was worse. Now however, I seem to be more recovered than he, meaning I can run a little without having to catch my breath. He will need to work up to this. 

No doubt, these are extraordinary days. We are all living through an unprecedented moment in modern history. Our daily lives are greatly affected as we all wait in isolation distanced from our family and friends. ‘Social distancing’, effective from spreading the virus, does seed suspicion of every person encountered in a grocery store or on the footpath. This suspicion, ‘Does that person have the virus’ , breeds mistrust in our families, friendship and communities yet as a population we are being asked to place unquestioned faith and trust in our leaders, police and governments.  Freely and readily freedoms were given up as people stopped working and going about their daily lives in the hope that someone one day will come up with a vaccine so that life can ‘go back to normal’. As a people we trust that those freedoms will be returned to us. All around the world people wait for a better tomorrow.

Believing in God’s word, God’s story, as the beginning and end of everything, I wonder what is He wanting us to learn at this time? What lessons, what grace, what blessing, what change, what warning is there for us in this moment? What, if we wanted to listen, would he be whispering to us in this new found quietness we find ourselves in? For surely, in between our zoom sessions and Netflix binges, it is quiet. ‘Be still’, He once said. ‘Be still and know that I am God’. (Psalm 46:10)

So that’s what I am going to attempt to do. I am going to read my Bible and see that if, in these times, God does speak to me (and you) through it. I confess, I’ve read a lot of the Bible already and most of it hasn’t made much sense or given impetus for further thought but that was then, this is now. I am much more interested. Things change. Life obviously changes. But what I am pretty sure doesn’t change is the Bible, or the character of God. He remains the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow and He promises that while the ‘earth remains there will be planting and harvest, cold and night, summer and winter, day and night’. (Genesis 8:22)

This time will end. There will be an end to our isolation. There will be a day to get back to work. This coronavirus disaster will one day be a time to remember. What then, will you remember it for? There are opportunities here for this to be a time of generosity, love, compassion and learning. There are opportunities here to sow seeds that produce marvelous fruits of the spirit. There are opportunities here to look for God and for Him to be found by you. There are opportunities here for you to trust and grow in faith. God promises good things to those who love and follow him. There are opportunities here to change your life and the lives of those you love for the better. What will you do? Who will you become? Will this be a time of growth or a time of lament. The choice is yours. As always, the choice is yours. As for me and my family, we choose to serve the Lord. (Joshua 24:15)

Please know that I am not a theologian, rather just someone thinking through the Bible and please afford some grace to my writing. I confess I struggle to share my thoughts in writing, I err and um and ah over every written word. I have very little confidence in my ability to clearly express myself however, as these are extraordinary times, I will attempt to explain my Bible studies in the hope that someone, just one person even, will be encouraged by it.