I was with two other women in ministry recently, talking about how the COVID virus has impacted just about every aspect of our daily lives and ministries. Where we go, who we see, how we earn a living, how we plan our next steps.
It’s been frustrating on the human level for sure. But we know that God is at work, and we have a common desire to see what he is doing through it all. As we’ve been singing recently:
Even when I don’t see it, You’re working, even when I don’t feel it, You’re working
You never stop, You never stop working, You never stop, You never stop working (Leeland)
I believe, based on spiritual discernment and Scripture (John 10:9), that the COVID-19 virus is a work of the devil. If his assignment is to “steal, kill, and destroy,” then it fits perfectly that this virus comes from him, because that is what it is doing. Stealing lives and livelihoods. Killing vulnerable bodies and killing hope in the hearts of millions. Destroying business, governments, social structure, and community.
If you think that this is a crazy, superstitious idea, then you don’t trust the teaching of Jesus, because it was Jesus who identified this as the enemy’s job description. Satan, the great liar, loves to bring hopelessness, and ultimately, to steal worship from our God.
The more we focus fearfully on the virus and its effects the happier he is. All that energy is not going toward the advancing of the kingdom of God.
But there is good news.
God doesn’t just use the good things in our lives to fulfill his purposes. He uses the evil things too. In our personal lives, if we look back at the times of greatest growth and breakthrough, often we find that it was during times of calamity, pain, and hardship. Conversely, when we recall seasons full of “trials of many kinds” (James 1:2), don’t we also see that spiritual fruit matured within us as we persevered?
Think about the devastating hurricanes of the past few decades. Recall how individuals, families, neighborhoods, churches, businesses, organizations, governments, and first responders worked together to rescue, support, and pray for one another. God does not delight in the devastation, but he is well pleased when people show their best selves amid the wreckage Satan brings.
Think about someone you know who has received a terrible diagnosis and had to endure months of frightening, painful treatments. They emerged on the other side so much stronger, braver, deeper in faith, more thankful, and more wholehearted in every way. God received glory and honor for his transforming healing and grace.
Years ago I facilitated a support group for women who had survived breast cancer. Every one of them said that hearing their doctors utter the word “cancer” was one of the worst moments of their lives. They wouldn’t wish it upon their worst enemy. Yet every one told me that they wouldn’t give back the way their hearts and lives had expanded in love and gratitude through the ordeal.
Scripture comes to life in so many places on this topic, but most vividly in the story of the crucifixion. As a human, Jesus recognized himself in the prophecies of the Old Testament as the “mediator between God and man” (1 Tim. 2:5) that would confront and do away with the sin of humanity on the cross. All four Gospels verify that he knew he would be killed, how he would be killed, and that he would be raised from the dead on the third day.
Jesus knew he would drink the bitter cup, to purchase the pardon for our iniquity. He said yes to the Father. But isn’t it interesting that God used evil-minded, vicious people to carry out his plan?
God allowed Satan to enter Judas, prompting him to betray Jesus to the authorities. God allowed the Jewish leaders to falsely accuse Jesus and unjustly sentence him to death.
God allowed the bloodthirsty Roman soldiers to torture Jesus, drive thorns into his scalp, and nail holes in his hands and feet. God allowed Herod and Pilate to sit idly by while all of this happened. God allowed the crowd to shout, “Crucify him, crucify him!”
God is light, and there is no darkness or shadow in him. To create the conditions in which Jesus could take on all our sin—all of it—he allowed people filled with darkness to play parts in the drama of redemption.
In the final analysis, we must never forget that these evildoers didn’t kill Jesus; Jesus gave himself freely. He could have come down from the cross, but for love of the world, he finished his part.
So, what can we learn and apply as we navigate through a time of unprecedented tension, confusion, isolation, and fear. What does God want to do with this COVID-19 demonic bug? He’s not afraid of it, that’s for sure. And he doesn’t want his people to be afraid either.
Maybe he is teaching us to represent him in some new ways. Do we continue to speak boldly of his goodness, declaring our complete confidence in him, however things appear?
Maybe he is teaching us to trust him more fully, to protect our health or provide for our needs.
Maybe he is testing our faithfulness. If we aren’t in church to give our tithes and offerings, do we still give? If we don’t have a live band in front of us, and lyrics on a screen, do we still worship? If we cannot meet with our brothers and sisters to intercede for each other, do we still pray?
Maybe he is teaching us what it means to take up our cross and follow him (Matt 10:38). When we see the enemy at work, do we go headlong into the work of the kingdom, taking our stand? Do we oppose him, standing firm with our armor on, brandishing the sword of the Spirit, the word of God?
I believe he is doing all these things. He is speaking especially to his church in this crucial moment.
I’d love to hear from you! Would you please share what you see and feel God doing in your own life, in your family and community, in your local church, in our country or in the world? He is surely doing great things. Tell me what you see!
“Let them praise the Lord for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them.” (Ps. 107:8)