These are indeed strange days in which we are living.
- Money will soon disappear as nations will digitize currency and make international exchanges and activity clearer and faster . . . and tracking more convenient.
- Governments are testing new restrictions to protect us . . . and to control populations of enormous proportions.
- Media is measuring just how much the outlets for information can be manipulated to educate us . . . and tell us what those in places of authority want us to know.
- Everyone is walking in fear of the next announcement: . . . will there be any toilet paper in the grocers next week?
Really!? Toilet paper is being hoarded? Because of the coronavirus?
Yes, these ARE strange days in which we are living. But thankfully we do not have to live only in this world. We are citizens of two realms: one here and now on earth, and we would do well to heed our Master’s words: “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:40) Interesting that this instruction was couched in the middle of His discussion on the end of time.
But there is another ‘country’ in which our higher citizenship is recorded (Hebrews 11:16). And there will be no shortages there. No pandemics. No currency manipulation; the streets are made of pure gold! Full freedom to be all that we were created to be. Wisdom and knowledge beyond our current brains’ ability to comprehend. And no fear. (Revelation 21:4) And since our citizenship is there, we have nothing to fear from this world.
A wise 17 year old once told me: “Nothing happens TO a Christ-follower. Filtered by His love, it only happens FOR us.” (Lane Martin) So as Dane Ortund says at the end of this week’s guest blog, “Be at peace. All is assured.”
8 Reminders in the Face of the Coronavirus Pandemic
March 13, 2020, by Dane C. Ortlund
The Cure for Latent Anxiety
These are strange days, days of fear, days of hysteria. In other words, days that simply bring all our latent anxieties up to the surface; anxieties that were there all along but are now made visible to others. What do we need to remember in these days of alarm?
1. The World of the Bible
Now we know how the people of God felt throughout the Bible, especially in the Old Testament. The Prophets and many of the Psalms speak to people who are caught up in mass hysteria or subject to pandemics. Maybe the current cultural moment is precisely the hermeneutic we need to read the Old Testament, which can otherwise feel so foreign, deeply for the first time.
2. Our True Trust
Times of public panic force us to align our professed belief with our actual belief. We all say we believe God is sovereign and he is taking care of us. But we reveal our true trust when the world goes into meltdown. What’s really our heart’s deepest loyalty? The answer is forced to the surface in times of public alarm, such as we’re wading into now.
3. Neighborly Love
When the economy is tanking, opportunities to surprise our neighbors with our confidence and joy because of the gospel surge forward. Now is the time to be outside more, to be loving more, to be hospitable more. Love stands out strongest when it is least expected, rarest, but needed most.
4. Family Discipleship
Our kids’ teachers are telling them to wash their hands longer. Why? Their teachers won’t tell them, but it’s because there is a dangerous virus infecting thousands of people around the world right now — both young and old — and some of those people will die. Heaven and hell are staring every fourth-grader in the face. That’s why they’re being told to wash their hands for twenty seconds. We have an opportunity to instill in our kids a deeper awareness of eternity than they have ever known. There is a salutary effect to all of this because either heaven or hell awaits every fourth-grader, either taken out by a virus next month or taken out by old age, decades from now. Ten thousand years from now, the difference between dying at age ten or age eighty will seem trivial. This is an opportunity to disciple our families into the bracing reality of eternity.
5. Eschatological Hope
Maybe this is the end. I doubt it, but maybe. Jesus said no one knows the day or the hour (Matthew 24:36). Maybe the sight of Jesus descending from Heaven, robed in glory, surrounded by angels, is right around the corner. If so, hallelujah. If not, hallelujah. We’re being reminded that he will indeed return one day. Either way, let us rejoice our way through the chaos. From Heaven’s shore we will see how eternally safe we were all along.
6. Invincible Providence
No infected molecule can enter your lungs, or your three-year-old’s lungs, unless sent by the hand of a heavenly Father. The Heidelberg Catechism defines God’s providence as, “The almighty and ever-present power of God by which God upholds, as with his hand, heaven and earth and all creatures, and so rules them that leaf and blade, rain and drought, fruitful and lean years, food and drink, health and sickness, prosperity and poverty — all things, in fact, come to us not by chance but by his fatherly hand.” That truth is like an asthmatic’s inhaler to our soul — it calms us down, allows us to breathe again.
7. Christ’s Heart
In times of turmoil, in seasons of distress, Jesus is more feelingly with his people than ever. Hebrews tells us that Jesus experienced all the horror of this world that we do, minus sin (Hebrews 4:15). So apparently he knows — he himself knows — way down deep, what it feels like for life to close in on you and for your world to go into meltdown. We can go to him. We can sit with him. His arm is around us — stronger than ever — right now. His tears are larger than ours.
From Heaven’s shore we will see how eternally safe we were all along, even amid the global upheaval and anxieties that loom so large as we walk through them. The dangers out there are real. The cautions are wise. Our bodies are mortal, vulnerable. But our souls, for those united to a resurrected Christ, are beyond the reach of all eternal danger. How un-harm-able we are, we who are in Christ. Be at peace. All is assured.
Dane C. Ortlund (PhD, Wheaton College) is chief publishing officer and Bible publisher at Crossway. He serves as an editor for the Knowing the Bible series and is the author of Gentle and Lowly. He is an elder at Naperville Presbyterian Church in Naperville, Illinois.