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.