Covid-19 – The invisible omnipresent enemy on our threshold! by B.V.Henry.
Beyond science fiction!
The imagery of one of the sinister four apocalyptic horsemen moving swiftly with pestilence across the globe may come afresh and vividly in the minds of some people. The difference is not any more as an entertaining fiction but a present reality calling for action and decision. A menacing spectre is looming on our very doorsteps and without divine protection we may well be the next victims added to the countless number of them on all the continents. Now between a gloomy pessimism and a false optimism many swing the pendulum of perplexity and wishful thinking with no attention and consideration to turn to the only ONE who knows all and best about it. He still speaks through His Word about the past, present and future to instruct and lead peoples through the devastating storm sweeping our planet. I encounter some who struggle to grasp the meaning or logic of it all or just resign to a depressing paradox or fatalism with no reversal. An absurd determinism with no human sense of responsibility and accountability, (see: Eccl.12:13,14). Now many people virtually forced to isolate themselves must feel quite lonely but this may be an appropriated moment to seriously ponder on the whole meaning of life and its final destiny in theperplexity of our time, not as something “Déjà vu´ but with the confrontation of an actuality of inescapable repercussions on their own lives.
Alongside the latest updates of 6000 victims in Sweden where I am based, the rampage of the virulent pandemic scourge becomes very dramatic particularly in Third World countries where there is lack of adequate facilities to take care of the patients, and this is really alarming with dire catastrophic consequences. There is not so much information in the secular news as reporters concentrate on the situation in the Western world, but should what goes on outside it be reckoned as a mere banality… A collateral effect of the virus in its galloping speed over borders is a noticeable epidemic paranoia and hysteria which is infectious as the coronavirus itself. But most of the concern related to the new contagious disease in our industrial countries is about how to cope with the downfall economy and the stagnation of lucrative international trades as the world still sees these as the most important!
Dream, nightmare and hope!
For all the vanities of our prosperity and luxury now at stake, many come to realise the futility of it all in placing their primal confidence in the material things at the expense of the spiritual, bargaining the temporal for the eternal (2 Cor.4:17.18). Moreover, many people have relayed too long ungrateful to God on the laurels of their successes with little thought as to the Source, (Rom.1:20,21). A long ignorance to the benevolence and the unmerited favours of God! Thus at the end of their boastings, even religious people are left naked and miserable (Rev.3:17). In the ongoing restless state of confusion and fear, nightmare scenarios are foreseen about the precariousness of economical status and financial freedom as the unexpected serial-killer disrupts and challenges our comfort in the opulence heaped on the altar of Mammon. Our welfare with its unrestrained consumption in many cases has been taken for granted in being disconnected from the One who gives and takes (Job 1:20,21). Jesus taught in one of his parables about a rich fool in his false equation, Luke 12:16-24. Like him, for some people projects and dreams now are shattered if not vanished as the Covid-19 relentlessly and indiscriminately propagates its havoc and death-sting. Already Seismic social changes for the better and the worse are and will be for long seen.
True, it is difficult for peoples to lose their jobs and the insecurity it causes for their way ahead, but little thought is given to the spiritual dimension of the crisis. All are hunting after the symptoms, illusive as they might be, of the virus but what about the cause; the root of the problem where might well lay the solution of the spiralling and frightening maelstrom. In all the secular forums and intellectual discourses on the topic, no reference is made to God Jehovah as our Maker and Redeemer. He is blatantly discarded as a person-no-grata if not denied in existence altogether! For Bible-believing Christians, things which are taking place should be of no surprise as long announced, as we read in Matthew chapters 24,25; Hebrews 12:25-29, but also knowing that adversities can still be turned into blessings, Job 42:12a. In reading the Word of God, it is clear that the wrath and judgment of God against apostasy and idolatry never come without solemn warnings as we read in the Book of Jeremiah and other biblical prophetic writings. In this time of sudden shaking and mental torment, God wants to speak in retrospective and perspective to those who want to hear, Jer.37:17; Job.33:14; 2 Pet.3:9. For those who may see themselves in a labyrinth of darkness and despair there is still light to be seen and a salutary exist. Jn.1:5; Ps.27:7; 42:8.
God is not far nor silent!
Once upon a time, the people of Judah were confronted with a terrifying foe and they and their king Jehoshaphat felt totally helpless as what to do. The Ruler casting himself completely in faith on God admitted and said:”…we do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon Thee.” At this very momentum, God miraculously intervened to deliver His people (2 Chron.20:12-18). Different from this historical event (not mythology or fairy-tale) to our current situation, is that the enemy was visible and scarring, whereas ours is invisible and omnipresent in its sway. But God sees it and is the only ONE able to stop it by the means of His own sovereign choosing: medication or other miraculous means… Let us not discard the lucid record of the Psalmist in reviewing Israel History in a similar situation as to the cause and the solution of a plague, Ps. 106:29,30. The Lord in His omnipotence can still interfere supernaturally over the whatever forces of natures and other calamities as the Holy Scriptures records and History can testify. This is not obscurantism superstition nor a solace or panacea in religions but in a personal relationship with the Almighty God, (Jn.17:3) on the throne ruling everything in the affairs of the world. Ps. 66:7.
What happens may also be a sign of time pointing to the return of our Lord Jesus, and it is not for people to be afraid to die but rather to be concerned where they are going to spend eternity. This is the real issue: their eternal destiny! Not the first but the second death has to be dread with no salvation beyond the grave but doom for the lost! Rev.20:6,14,15; Heb.9:27. Either conscious eternal woe (Rev.14:10,11; 20:11-15) or conscious eternal bliss (Rev.21:1-7). A gracious appeal still sounds:“Prepare to meet your God!” Amos 4:12b. “Be ye reconciled with God!”, 2 Cor.5:20.
Truly God is able to bring healing and restoration! Eph.3:20. The Spirit of God still moves to bring order over chaos, Gen.1:2. Under the present curse there is ultimately a bright prospect found in the last promise of the Old Testament, true pointing to the future but evidently transcending time and space: “To you who fear my Name the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings”, Mal.4:2a. May the Lord open all eyes like He did to the bewildered servant of Elisha in answer to his prayer, 2 Kings 6:17,18. On our knees with our eyes fixed on HIM in full surrendering there is hope in the midst of all distress and anguish, for deliverance from the spreading and unfathomable foe of the coronavirus. Now some hospitalized patients do recover, let us not forget, while some others not and paradoxically even believers, and in such uncertainty we can learn to appreciate every day as a gift from God and take better care of each other as long as we have each other! (Ps.39:4; 90:12).
Back to the admonition and exhortation of the Scripture –
Now is a good opportunity to share our hope in this state of helplessness we are all in and affected by. The Lord in permitting what happens may well use all the troubles and wondering we face to reveal Himself in unchanging mercies to all races, Hab.3:2; Lam.3:2-25. Too many have put their trust in their welfare and achievements and now come to realize the transiency of it all, even churches in need of a genuine spiritual renewal. Many talk about the consequences but not what may well be the cause of the global tragedy. In the Scripture (I just went through Deuteronomy and the book of Judges) we read that plagues/tumours and other calamities are often the result of long rebellions and abominations against the commandments of God, (Lev.26:25; Num.14:12; Deut.28:21; Jer.14:12; 27:13; Eze.5:12: 6:11; 7:15; Matt.24:7; Lk.21:11). Interesting to read 2 Samuel chapter 24 in this regard. Disobedience and sin have their consequences and repercussions Gal. 6:7. King Solomon knew this and solemnly requested deliverance from pestilence in order that the people might learn the fear of the Lord, 2 Chron.6:28-31. And so our intercessions should be today. Do we learn anything about God’s dealings with Israel…. Rom.11:22? To repeat: God’s judgement and verdict never comes without sober warnings as well seen in the book of Jeremiah.
May the Lord use us as His messengers to help the seekers to find the Light and assurance of salvation, Rom.8:1 & 38,39. To spontaneously assist in practical ways the infirm and vulnerable in a demonstration of God’s love. Thus, the pathetic condition of brothers and sisters in the underdeveloped countries should awake Christian solidarity and liberality. I do understand that presently we are all quite limited to move but in making ourselves available to the Lord, He grants us opportunities to tell about His saving grace and love and outstretched our hands to the needy. So many things have to be readjusted in the febrile atmosphere of our turbulent days nevertheless our confidence is in the Lord and His promises to be protected and provided and to remember all our dear ones to experience the reality of our Lord’s presence and care for them. Ps.27:1; Phil.4:19. Ps.139:5.
B.V. Henry is the author of the Swedish book: “Bibelns nyckelroll i den Protestantiska Reformationen” (The key-role of the Bible in the Protestant Reformation.) and the up-coming book: “Dietrich Bonhoeffer – Tro som föder mod – en man som stod upp mot nazismens ondskan” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer – The Courage of Faith- A man who stood against the evil of Nazism.)