Who are you listening to?
I am not sure whether I am perplexed, bemused, or agitated by the response of believers to the Coronavirus. I am sure that I am left wondering who God is really speaking to when I hear the vast discrepancy between the pronouncements of current day “prophets.” Understand, I am in no way saying that God does not speak, but we clearly are not hearing the same voice, and that is a problem. Some say that the virus is not a virus at all but a device of the devil. Others say it is a virus, one created by man to control and manipulate. Some say it is sent by God to punish a sinful world. Others claim it is a false virus, whatever that is, and one prominent prophet went so far as to publicly blow it away and declare it done. How is that working out? All of this reminds me of the false prophet Zedekiah’s retort to the true prophet Micaiah when their two prophesies to Ahab were so distant from each other (1 Kings 22, 2 Chronicles 18).
My point: God cannot be saying all that is attributed to Him. Christians would do much better to listen to His true voice for themselves rather than be addicted to every platform and channel that uses the situation to elevate itself.
Another irritation are believers who bemoan the virus and ask God to end it because they are tired of dealing with its inconveniences. We are to ask God to protect us, but I hear enough whining about the virus to know that strength of faith and endurance are an issue.
In one sense, I attribute this to two weaknesses in our faith. First, our faith is not strong enough to understand that God uses everything to work His will in His timing. Second and more systemic I believe, is a false understanding of Grace. It is not the “get out of jail free” card that most believers seem to think it is.
Living as an Overcomer
The whole concept of God’s grace is that it sustains and empowers us in the midst of hard times. That is what grace is all about, providing what we need to endure the chaos around us and its affects upon our lives while enabling us to still yield fruit that evidences His power, His truth, His mercy. The basic fact that the world has forgotten, including many believers, is that the purpose of creation is to magnify YHVH. It isn’t about us.
A few days ago, I watched a documentary on the Japanese invasion of China. The film images were stunning in their starkness, showing millions of people on a forced march to escape the evil that was destroying their country and culture. Think terror and desperation on a mass scale. It caused me to wonder, what were Chinese Christians believing then? How were they reacting? How did God sustain them through their trial? How was their faith increased by the experience?
Jeremiah (chapters 37 and 38) provides a model of how we are to respond to any crisis or difficulty, including this one. I would put it this way … Seek the truth of the Eternal, know where your peace and strength are, and appropriate God’s peace as your own to live lives that magnify His grace regardless of the moment’s peace or chaos.
History does not indicate that trials depart when we become tired of them. We are called to live lives that honor God in all that we say and do, and to depend upon His grace for everything we need to glorify Him in the instance, during good times and bad. Paul said it best when he instructed the Corinthians about Jesus’ grace.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9,10 (ESV)
As believers, our contribution in this time is to model God’s grace to unbelievers, to show them that it enables us to live in faith despite current troubles. In short, we are called to be overcomers. How do we do that? The formula is simple:
Obedience x Perseverance = Overcoming
Overcome through our faith and obedience, that is what we are called to. When we live Godly lives in this manner, we model His grace, strength, endurance, and blessings to a society that needs the example, now more than ever.