“Blessings of Pandemic”

  Blessings of Pandemic

Shane Carrington

911 scarred us. And scared us. But patriotism, national unity, and church attendance all increased. Our great adversity brought tragic loss of life and financial instability, but blessings also arrived. Now, as then, some proclaim that “God brought this pandemic on us because of our worldliness and wickedness as a society. This is God’s judgment,” they declare. Without an inspired prophet of God to clarify this, though, how could anyone boldly make such an announcement? God works in history — “the Most High God is ruler over the realm of mankind” (Dan. 5:21) — it is true. But He also gives humans free will. God is sovereign, but in sovereignty He allows humans to make choices. God through providence interacts with His creation, but He also declares “time and chance overtake them all” (Eccles. 9:11), so He does not pull the strings on all earthly occurrences. “God wanted COVID-19 to plague us to get our attention.” Perhaps.

Again, without a modern, inspired prophet declaring this as God’s purpose, we cannot say this with certainty. God allows us to suffer many things. He can use these as He wills. But in a universe of “time and chance” (Eccles. 9:11), He can also let things run their course. Trust the Lord, pray to God, and shine His light in time (regardless what we endure). He will walk with us now (Heb. 13:5,6), and, if we are faithful, we will someday “walk with” Him “in white” (Rev. 3:4; 2:10). Nothing we endure can force us from God (1 Cor. 10:13). And He can use pandemic to bless us. “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance” (James 1:2,3). We would rather posses ease and tranquility, and these have their place in benefitting us. “Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.” (3 John 2)

One of the reasons God wants us to pray for our national leaders/authorities is, “so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Tim. 2:2b-4

Tranquility can enhance our ability to spread God’s word of salvation! But trials also have their place, and we are enduring some of that at this time. Blessings of adversity What benefits can the faithful find in pandemic? Consider a few:

• It can build greater spiritual “endurance” (James 1:2,3) in us. “And let endurance have its perfect result” (James 1:4) — strengthening us spiritually to be more like Jesus. • It can give us greater appreciation of worship assemblies. Having been apart so long, and we don’t know how much longer it will persist, coming back together will be a glad reunion that will make us more appreciative of time together in worship and study.

 • It can help us realize more fully that “the rich man in the midst of his pursuits will fade away” (James 1:11). Relative to most people around the globe, we are financially wealthy. Comparing our homes and diets to theirs is actually no comparison. We can tend to take our material blessings for granted. Suffering can realign our priorities. May we learn spiritual focus, including good stewardship of financial blessings, through our current circumstances.

 • It can help us slow down. We Americans tend to busy ourselves into oblivion, participating in every activity under the sun from dawn to dusk. Business is a mark of prestige in our culture. COVID-19 forced us to slow down. God required a weekly Sabbath for ancient Israel. We crave more activity than that, almost afraid of missing out on something. While God gave us no such requirement in the New Testament, slowing down rests our minds, bodies, and spirits — things we all need for mental, physical, and spiritual health. Hopefully this forced break will break some of our NASCAR habits, helping us focus more on family, character, and faith.

• It can help us realize the important place our spiritual family has in our lives. Not being able to see one another face to face builds a longing to share the same physical space again. God created humans as social beings, and spiritual family is vital to growing faith. Individual responsibility is essential (James 1:19-27). But as disciples, God has incorporated us into His body with one another: “Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart” (1 Pet. 1:22). This grows dearer due to our physical separation. May we stay in contact with one another in the interim!

• It is increasing our outreach. We currently reach more people with the gospel than we had before. Having 200+ screens viewing our live-streamed worship assemblies is common right now. Previously, we came nowhere close to that. The numbers for this will go down when we can physically assemble, but unbelievers and disciples needing restoring are also watching. Pray for a harvest! Periodically, God allows His people to face adversity. This is not the first time for you or me; if time continues, it will not be the last. The faithful trust God through both hardship and prosperity, strengthened in His gracious word and promises, realizing that the end of our lives in this physical world brings us everlasting peace and comfort in His unfiltered presence. What a glorious, unending day that will be! Find daily purpose and strength in Him, and, whatever trials may come, we can rejoice in the Lord!