Some lessons from the pandemic
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death - that is, the devil - and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. Hebrews 10:23-25, NIV
It is now nearly twenty months since Covid-19 spread to the world, and this gives us long enough to reflect on Biblical truths the pandemic has reinforced. Here are four:
1. We still live in a world under God’s judgment, just as the Bible describes. In October 2019, we were reading through Revelation as a church, and we reached chapter 6 verse 8: They [four horsemen, sent by God] were given power over a quarter of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague. I think when I was preaching this, I may have glossed over the bit about plague. Now I wish I had said more! For what the Bible says is always true. We do well, then, to heed God’s warnings, and to come to Him for mercy, which is what God’s visitations are designed to press us to do.
2. We have been humbled by recognising that our plans are in God’s hands. The Apostle James writes: Now, listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. (James 4:13-14) Seldom have we learnt this lesson with such force as in the pandemic! I have on my shelves a copy of The World in 2020, published by The Economist in late 2019 to help us know what to expect in 2020. It has no idea whatever of the monster round the corner - which made many of its predictions obsolete. Let us all learn a humble and prayerful dependence on God as we make our plans, and a recognition that things may not work out as we expect.
3. Meeting together, and singing, is of incalculable benefit to us. Back in March 2020, there was something quite novel about ‘sofa church’. I confess that Sundays for me became remarkably relaxing - just sit back at home and watch the recordings we’d made earlier in the week! But as the weeks wore on, didn’t we begin to notice we were really missing something? Missing catching up with each other, seeing how each other are, being encouraged by the presence of a crowd of people in whom God is at work. I was at the Keswick Convention on 19 July this year: the first time congregational singing had been allowed in England since 16th March 2020. There were many moist eyes as we did so! I am resolved not to take this privilege for granted again, or to despise it. Praise God, in His mercy, the vaccines seem to be highly effective, and it is wonderful to be able, as a result, to meet fairly normally again. Make the most of this!
4. What a relevant message we have for a lost world! In the verses quoted above, from Hebrews 2, we read how the Lord Jesus came to deliver us from the fear of death. In His own death on the cross, He drew death’s sting - God’s right sentence on us for our guilt. This means no Christian need fear death. The pandemic has demonstrated again just how much our world is gripped by this fear. But in Christ we have a sure and certain hope. Will we live, and speak, as those who have had this fear removed?