• Beth Hildebrand

We’re All In This Together

This past Sunday, I stood bunched up with my husband, son and daughter outside on a chilly, gray and windy afternoon surrounded by tombstones while we heard coming out of the little speaker about 20 feet away the song “How Great Thou Art” (sung by Carrie Underwood since they couldn’t take the church’s organ or piano to the cemetery). There were about twelve clusters of two to four people bundled up in jackets and masks scattered throughout the small cemetery to say good-bye to my husband’s grandmother who lived in the countrysides of West Virginia and Virginia for 97 years.

I’m sure she never would’ve imagined that her time to leave this earth was during a world-wide pandemic where the entire population of people was majorly impacted physically, mentally, economically and maybe even spiritually by a tiny, invisible germ.

Have you ever felt gray? Standing outside under the gray clouds and surrounded by gray tombstones caused me to briefly think of the grayness life has been the past six weeks. Thinking about all the medical workers, grocery store employees, truck drivers, and scientists who are exhausted and things must look blurry-gray. I’m sure at some point during this Coronavirus pandemic each one of us has experienced some form of weariness, grief or mourning due to loss. You may have lost a loved one due to this virus or know someone who has. You may terribly miss your daily routine, going out to eat at a restaurant with your family, going shopping for fun, giving your friend a hug, and gathering with many at church. Many grieve that there won’t be graduation events, brides and grooms surrounded by loved ones, and vacation plans cancelled. Or you may have lost your job.

Although those are all difficult and real and not to be ignored, I don’t want to dwell too long on those thoughts though. Just like I’d rather think of the new life and joy Granny has as she sees Jesus face to face now, I choose to think of the renewal we can experience from COVID-19.

Maybe this pandemic is a loving wake-up call from God because there does seem to be so much darkness, disorder and death around the globe the past several decades, not just weeks. In his new book Coronavirus and Christ that was just released the other day, John Piper, preacher and author, writes that this coronavirus can be a “thunderclap call for all of us to repent and realign our lives with the infinite worth of Christ.”

Repent. Realign.

Recreate. Renew.

Isn’t that what we’re to do when we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection, especially during Easter season and spring?

Let’s ponder for a few minutes what good can come from this minute microorganism. What are some “good” things that have come about for you during this crisis? For me, our son is back from college and every night our family of four gets to eat dinner together. That’s 40 days now (and more to come) of extra nights of dinner together we would’ve never had if it weren’t for COVID-19. We’ve had more time to not rush because rush is never a time of rest. And speaking of rest, that word – or the importance of that verb according to Scripture – has become almost extinct in our culture.

“This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.” (Isaiah 30:15)  Sound familiar like it’s something God can say to us today?  It’s as if God has given us “enforced rest”, so maybe take some time to think of why rest is important to God.  It could be because when we rest, our minds become less cluttered, less distracted, less stressed, which allows our body and mind to rest in His presence and that’s where people can experience repentance, salvation, restoration, realignment and renewal.

That command from God also tells us to trust in Him. This virus has given us the perfect opportunity to trust in Him and Him alone. We must trust God’s sovereignty.

Paul writes in his letter to the Colossians (and to us), “God created all things and holds all things together, both in heaven and on earth, both visible and invisible. (1:16)

God’s sovereignty simply means He is in control of all things. Psalm 103:19 says, “God is in control of all things and rules over all things. He has power and authority over nature, earthly kings, history, angels, and demons.

When we trust God’s sovereignty and His promises throughout the Bible, then we can experience peace because we know that we are already in the kingdom of God here on earth now and that the kingdom of God in heaven is waiting for those who believe in Him. We can live with security knowing He’s our Shepherd and Protector. We can have hope because the God of hope fills you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13) We can be renewed daily and have a new life filled with the joy of the Lord that defeats enemies named anxiety and fear.

Piper also says,

What God is doing in the coronavirus is showing us—graphically, painfully—that nothing in this world gives the security and satisfaction that we find in the infinite greatness and worth of Jesus. This global pandemic takes away our freedom of movement, our business activity, and our face-to-face relations. It takes away our security and our comfort. And, in the end, it may take away our lives. The reason God exposes us to such losses is to rouse us to rely on Christ. Or to put it another way, the reason he makes calamity the occasion for offering Christ to the world is that the supreme, all-satisfying greatness of Christ shines more brightly when Christ sustains joy in suffering.

Friends, may you feel joy in suffering, peace that passes all understanding and hope in Christ. May you keep sheltering in place until we’re told to otherwise and know that, “We’re all in this together” like the High School Musical cast sings. (But maybe not all wearing red and white cheerleading and basketball uniforms)

Jesus, may we remember “How Great Thou Art” and that You are always in control. May this pandemic wake us up from our cozy comfort so we can be more alert and pay attention to what You have called to us be and do as Your disciples in the year 2020 and to come.

Beth

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