Is the coronavirus pandemic another of many signs heralding Christ’s coming at the end of the world? Not if you believe what Jesus said about His coming.
Jesus said that nobody, but the Father knows when He is coming (Matthew 24:36). If there will be signs of His coming, then anyone could know. Doesn’t that mean that if someone says there are signs that Christ is about to come that he doesn’t know what he is talking about?
Hebrews was written to Christians who were suffering persecution because of their faith in Jesus Christ. As a result, some were leaving Christ and falling away from grace. In Hebrews 11 the writer reminds them of the heroes and heroines of faith from the Old Testament who suffered persecution and trials. In chapter 12 he uses their example to encourage the Hebrews to keep their faith as Christians and to keep their eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:1-4). In the verses that follow he helps them to understand what God is doing with their trials and it will help us to understand what God is doing with the coronavirus pandemic and the trials we face, today.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought a great hardship to many people around the world. It has caused a great problem for the church because most have not been able to assemble as a congregation. If I tell you all today to look with me in God’s word, the Bible, some might respond, “I don’t even know if there is a God. Where is He? What is He doing? Why doesn’t He take this all away? And, what does a book written thousand of years ago have to do with us today?” My answer is, “Yes, there is a God, He will take this all away and everything else in this world; and the Bible has everything to do with us.” All of this is not much different from the persecution endured by the church in Jerusalem when they were scattered from their homes, their jobs and separated from family and friends (Acts 8:1-4). It is to these Christians and others like them that Peter writes his first epistle. He gives them a message of hope that is just as relevant and powerful as it was when it was first written.
The coronavirus pandemic has been going on for some time now and it is uncertain when things are going to get better. This is when some begin to lose hope. They cannot see beyond it and don’t know how they are going to survive it. If that is you, then you need to hear this word from God: “Hope does not disappoint” (Romans 5:5).
Paul wrote these God-inspired words to Christians in Rome. They would be persecuted by the Roman emperor Nero, being nailed to crosses and burnt to death. There must have been those who lost all hope. God wanted them to know and He wants us to know that hope does not disappoint.
James words are so helpful during this awful pandemic. He writes: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:2-8).
The world is making every effort to find a cure for the coronavirus. Some medicines have already proven to help treat it and we are on our way to find a vaccine. We all long the day when we can go to the doctor and he is able to write a prescription to take it all away. But there is a greater prescription already available given to us by the Great Physician to treat all our ailments. It is found in the apostle Paul’s inspired letter which he wrote to the church that met in Philippi long ago. Then, as now, there were all kinds of trials and temptations that Christians had to face. In chapter 4 verses 4-9 we find God’s prescription for a coronavirus pandemic and whatever else you may be facing in your life.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought many unsettling changes to our nation and the world. This has caused many to fall into panic, despair, fear, worry, stress and depression. They are unable to find any peace. But there are many places in the Bible where it can be found. One of those places is John 14-16. Here Jesus speaks to His apostles to prepare them for His death and departure from this world and to give them peace. We too may find peace in these words of Jesus.
This is the second week since the coronavirus pandemic that we have not assembled with the Northwest congregation. We have not quit worshiping and working for the Lord. In fact, many are doing more of that than ever before. We are also blessed to be able to communicate by telephone, mail, email, Facebook and the many other means of social media. This has been helpful during a time when the government has issued orders to stay away from one another in order to prevent the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
No doubt many of you, just like me and others I know, have had to grapple with the question “Are we forsaking the assembly?”.
It has been a long few weeks. People are in a panic -- for toilet paper! We are worried about our jobs. Some of you have already been laid off and the bills start piling up real fast. We can’t hardly get out of our houses. We are all feeling it. For many it seems like the end of the world, and you know that wouldn’t be bad for those of us who know the Lord!
Listen to Him: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” Jeremiah 29:11.
With a God like that...
Robert Dodson is the Preaching Minister for the Northwest Church of Christ.
6059 Azle Avenue
Fort Worth, TX 76135