The Coronavirus has hit our country with fervor and caused all kinds of death and hurt in its path. What can we learn from this epidemic? What is God saying to us in 2020? Can we see the purpose that God has, even while we are stuck in our homes and trying to learn how to home school our children? Who would have thought this virus would shut down our economy and wipe out the gains in our retirement accounts?
In many ways, God is screaming at us: “Notice me”, “Look at me”, “Come to me”, “Worship me”.
When the lights are out at Camden Yards and Harborplace; and every sports venue, movie theater, state park, school and college is shut down, God is speaking to us with hands cupped, so we can hear Him.
Once the horizontal relationships are shut off, and we cannot attend a concert, a baseball game, or a high school graduation, we are forced to look up and see that God wants our attention. The only avenue left to us is the vertical. We can’t look to the horizontal for deliverance. We must look up to the God who made us and loves us.
Scriptures speak to us in these times of the unknown.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are My ways higher than your ways,
and My thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)
We do not have the answers, and we cannot begin to understand all the motives of a sovereign God. During a crisis, God desires his creation to turn to Him and trust Him in the moment. Each time there was a crisis, God allowed people to wait and lean on His promises, through faith.
Think of the story in Daniel, when the three Hebrew youths – Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego – were thrown into the fiery furnace. They were not delivered from the inferno; rather, Jesus met them in the middle of the furnace, where they were spared the sting of the scorching heat. And when they emerged, they didn’t even smell like burned clothing.
We grieve at the loss of life in this COVID-19 crisis, but we seek to grow in our faith and learn to trust the LORD in the process of our suffering. Think of all the promises God gives us in His Word.
“God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear” (Psalm 46:1-2)
“Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
So we may boldly say:
“The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear.
What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5-6)
“Fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)
These promises from God allow us to listen and learn how to trust God, who cares about us in the midst of hurt and pain.
Each day, I listen to patients in a great hospital in Cumberland, MD. I often think of ways I could encourage these patients and families during this crisis. But now, my ministry is changing from serving patients to serving employees and staff at UPMC Western MD hospital. Serving about 2200 employees is a new venture for me.
I have seen many patients and staff in the hospital draw close to the Lord, even when they are in pain and have no idea why. The process of hearing that you have been exposed to the virus allows people to seek the Lord and to know Him as the redeeming Savior. Salvation comes to the soul who seeks the Lord and repents of their sins and believes Jesus can save them (John 14:1-6).
While God is shouting to us, we can open our eyes and our hearts and hear what God is saying to our country and our world. The greatest lesson is not to find a solution to our illness but rather to discover that, in the midst of the hurt, we can gain an understanding of who God is and find the HOPE (Helping OPEN People’s Eyes) to the truth that He is drawing His arm to embrace us, even while we hurt and are crying for answers.
Thirty-three years ago, my wife and I buried our newborn son, when he passed away at the Johns Hopkins NICU unit in Baltimore. We trusted God to meet our needs in the midst of the crisis, and God graciously granted us another baby, one year later in the same week. Today, my daughter is proclaiming the gospel on a national radio network in Nashville and is married to a great Bible-preaching pastor.
God does bless us, when we trust Him. We may need to wait for the blessing, but God has a plan, and it’s our role to know Him more than just getting the cure.
God be with you.
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With houses of worship currently closed across much of the nation, the editors of the Baltimore Post-Examiner are inviting an array of spiritual teachers to share insights from the ages along with words of comfort and encouragement. These timely messages are not exclusive to any particular faith walk and will be included in our ongoing Spirituality series.
Rev. Bruce A. McBride ( M.A., M. DIV) is Director of Pastoral Care, UPMC Western Maryland in Cumberland, MD. A graduate of Bob Jones University. Greenville, SC (BA in Bible, 1980, MA in Pastoral Studies, 1987) and Liberty University, Lynchburg, VA (Master of Divinity, 2009,) McBride was ordained in 1987 at Townsend Avenue Baptist Church in Baltimore, MD., McBride has pastored churches in NJ, WV and MD for 32 years and taught Bible and History for 5 years in Glen Burnie, MD. He has been married to Judith Hauser for 38 years and is the father of 4 adult children.