COVID-19 and the Promises of God

Nathan Colestock

The recent outbreak of COVID-19 leaves many, myself included, anxious and uncertain. Even now, Scripture is not silent. It gives peace for those patient enough to ponder, and confidence to those bold enough to ransack its answers.

God has Not Lose Control.

"Does disaster come to a city unless the LORD has done it?" (Amos 3:6)

Disaster might tempt us to question the power of God, "God wouldn't let this happen..." Amos reassures us that God has not lost control. Trouble does not suggest that God's kingdom is tapering. Difficulty is not evidence that the king is dethroned. Tribulation is not cause to doubt that Jesus reigns supreme.

On the contrary, while our anxiety makes us feel like everything is falling apart, "In [Christ] all things hold together" (Col. 1:17). He has not lost command! "Our God is in the heavens, he does all that he pleases" (Psalm 115:3).

There's No Reason to Fear COVID-19.

"And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows."  (Matt. 10:28-31)

In this passage, Jesus sets the record straight on who/what should be feared. The answer is, "Don't fear those who kill the body, but can't do a thing to your soul." God is the only one to be feared because he is the only one who can punish ultimately. Therefore, those who trust in Christ have nothing else to fear! Death is gain! (Phil. 1:21) If God is sovereign over the fall of sparrows–worth next to nothing–but cares for you enough to have the hairs of your head numbered (something you don't care enough about yourself to do!), then you can be sure his loving attention is directed your way.

Do not fear COVID-19, which kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Instead, trust Jesus, and fear God who alone is to be feared.

Samuel Rutherford might help you as he did me,

Ye have now...a sickness before you; and also after that a death...God give you eyes to see through sickness and death, and to see something beyond death. Now, I believe ye have only these two shallow brooks, sickness and death, to pass through; and ye have also a promise that Christ shall do more than meet you, even that He shall come Himself, and go with you foot for foot, yea and bear you in His arms. O then! O then! for the joy that is set before you; for the love of the Man (who is also God over all, blessed forever’) that is standing on the shore to welcome you, run your race with patience.

God Intends COVID-19 for Your Good.

"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good..." (Rom. 8:28)

You need to read every word in that heading...

  • God intends COVID-19 for your good.

  • God intends COVID-19 for your good.

  • God intends COVID-19 for your good.

  • God intends COVID-19 for your good.

  • God intends COVID-19 for your good.

Those who love God can be absolutely sure that his plans for them, in life and death, are unshakably exceptional. His means might be odd to us in our finiteness. He used years of slavery and imprisonment for good through Joseph (Gen. 50:20). He used war and exile for the good of Judah (Micah 4:10). He used a mock trial and a rugged cross to accomplish your redemption (1 Pet. 2:24). Who are we to question the means of God if he would bless us using COVID-19?

God is bringing restoration through suffering in the whole world, and these years are no exception.

You Already Have Everything You Need.

"He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?" (Rom 8:32)

God is not stingy in his gift-giving. He has not left you wanting for anything. Instead, he's gone to enormous lengths to prove to you that he will give you everything you need. This is not a promise you will be free from suffering. It's better. It's a promise that God moved heaven and earth, left no stone unturned, to send the reigning king of the universe to save you! If he cares for you that much, there is no reason to question if he will provide for you now.

Take a moment before you keep reading and meditate on the promises above for a moment. Take real hope in them.

Minimizing Potential Disaster is not the way Forward.

"Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit"—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that." (James 4:13-15)

We don't know the future. Our plans change daily. God knows the future because he planned it. To confidently assert that "things will all be okay" when we have no idea if it will be is arrogant. It reveals our hope is in health, or the status quo, or something else, but not in God who never promises things will be "okay" by our definition. Our job isn't to provide ourselves with shaky hope that it won't be so bad. Our privilege is to trust the living God who promises us living hope, and an inheritance kept safe from the broken world (1 Pet. 1:3-5).

Our Hope was Never Medicine.

"Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God." (Ps. 20:7)

Just like the Israelites weren't meant to depend on chariots and horses in war, we aren't meant to depend on hospitals and Germ-X today. It's not because chariots don't have anything to do with war, or that the doctors don't have a crucial role to play in fighting disease. It's because God is ultimately in control of both that we place our trust in him.

No Matter how Bad it Gets, God's People can Praise Him.

"Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation." (Hab. 3:17-18).

God's people have faced grim circumstances. When food fails, and the basic necessities of life seem insecure, God is not any less praiseworthy. God hasn't changed if our circumstances have. We testify to the greatness and worthiness of our God when we praise him in the face of pain. What could show the world how rock-solid trustworthy God is more than when we trust him when things are insecure? This is how we show the world the faithfulness of God!

COVID-19 is an Evangelism Opportunity.

"There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish." (Luke 13:1-5)

One of the functions of disaster is to remind unbelievers that they are mortal. When they think of death, they become more open to the gospel and repentance. So a part of the response of Christians should be increased evangelism. We know there is nothing so hope-giving and fear-dispelling than the faith we have in our God. In moments of uncertainty, we must share that faith!

I Believe All That, But I Still have Trouble Sleeping at Night...

"Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good."  (1 Pet 4:19)

Or maybe you're like me and sleep fine, but surf the same worthless headlines too many hours.

These are days where our faith is tested and stretched. We get to "try on" the promises we cling to. We're supposed to go live what we claim to believe. So we entrust our souls to God, who is true even when we are faithless, and we go do good. For many of us, our anxiety isn't for our own health, but for the health of our loved ones. We need to do the same thing, entrusting their souls to our faithful creator.

Don't fake your faith, grow in it.

Encourage your friends. Pray with your family. Meditate on Scripture. Preach to yourself. Don't lose an opportunity to grow in faith, encourage the saints, and make disciples.