Providence and Pandemics

We all see daily the devastating consequences of the coronavirus on those who have become ill with the virus, those who need a hospital room for any reason, and those who have lost their jobs. Let’s continue to hold them in our prayers.

The promise of Scripture is not that people of faith are spared from the consequences of living in a fallen world. And, Scripture does not, as a whole, support the idea that God causes suffering for some unfathomable meting out of justice. Rather, God promises that even the worst that the world throws at us will not separate us from the love of God in Christ. Somehow, God will work through, around, and within this pandemic to bring the world a bit closer to the Kingdom of God.

The full spectrum of how that will be remains to be seen in retrospect by subsequent generations.

Among the pieces of the growing wreckage, I am finding some bright spots. Some who are ill are recognizing the depth of care others feel for them. Many who were addicted to busy-ness are framing this time of shelter-in-place as a catch-up time for long-neglected Sabbath. I see families making music together, painting, creating sculpture, and reconnecting after years of never sharing a dinner table except for holidays. 

I have been hearing and reading for years how important it is for churches that want to thrive in the future to raise their online presence. I have said, “I know, I know, of course we need to do that,” but it has always been on the back-burner, outweighed by more pressing matters. In the last three weeks, it feels like the church I serve has leapt two or three years ahead of where our online outreach would have been had we not been faced with this fierce urgency of now.

The challenge to disciples of Jesus Christ is to hold these two priorities together: to pay attention to those in need, those who are suffering the most from the pandemic; and, to open our eyes to the little glimpses of the Kingdom of God breaking into our world, the pin-pricks of light breaking through the darkness.

Stay home. Wash your hands. Pray without ceasing.

God bless you all. 

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