Last night, before sleep, I picked up a little book by a well-known author who declared “God sent this corona virus on the earth.” His argument is that since God is sovereign, meaning that He rules answering to no one higher, that we must conclude that He purposefully did this to the earth. His reasoning troubles me because it makes God the source of great suffering. Perhaps you think I’m splitting hairs in these words.
I am convinced that God does what He wills to do, answering to no one higher than Himself. I am equally convinced that He operates from goodness, that His desire is to save not to destroy. He was never unaware of the coming pandemic, but the fact that He allowed it is, at least in my thinking, far different than thinking He caused it.
So, what does God desire in all of this?
What are His purposes in allowing the virus on this earth?
To answer that question with specifics is truly arrogant. I cannot, nor can you, completely explain the purposes of a God whose ‘ways are higher than our ways.’ However, I can tell you this. God is at work in us and for us. He has a way prepared that will lead those who trust and follow Him, a way that leads to life, to more glory than we can imagine. When the ancient people of the Lord found their nation devastated by invaders, their city and Temple leveled by Assyrians, many concluded that they were finished as a nation.
But, Jeremiah heard from God and urged them to look past the obvious, to the sovereign (remember that word?) abilities of the Living God. “This is what the Lord says, he who made the earth, the Lord who formed it and established it—the Lord is his name: ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’” (Jeremiah 33:2-3, NIV) The Message says it like this: “Call to me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.”
By faith, I accept what my natural mind cannot see in this moment- that God will do things that are beyond my imagination! The LORD is not telling us that He will do exactly what we want Him to do. He will do what is best for us… often in ways that we couldn’t or wouldn’t expect. That is where I think the faith of some gets mis-focused. Somehow they become convinced that the power of the Almighty God can be used to further their own plans, that He will serve their agenda. Prayers, well-meant perhaps, become selfish and small.
“God give me the money I need for that new project.”
“God, make my wife love me in a way that makes me a happier person.”
“Lord, give me a new job that provides me more free time.”
“Heal me… comfort me… give me …”
Do not misunderstand what I am saying. There is nothing wrong with asking God for the desires of our heart. In fact, James teaches us, “Tell God what you need.” The greater issue is getting our hearts aligned with His purposes, surrendering our self-will to His, so that we are asking Him for things that are best. When we are full of faith we approach His throne in prayer as beloved children, presenting our requests, opening our hearts to Him, even as we know with full assurance that God knows our need better than we do. In that confidence, we accept the grace He gives and what He allows us to experience. We know that He is the giver of ‘good and perfect’ gifts.
Disciple, God does have a plan for you and me! Our greatest joy is found in letting Him set the pace. He is a good God; not tame, not predictable, not bound to our limited perspective; but amazingly wonderful. Begin your prayers with worship, praising Him for Who He is, thanking Him for the complete salvation that you know through Christ. Lean on Him, rest in Him. Then, the petitions that flow from your heart will be less whiny, less ‘gimme that, God’ and more, “Lead me in the paths of life everlasting.”
Paul says, “since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:25, NIV) Will we let Him set the pace, take the lead? Nothing, no one, can keep Him from doing what He desires. Yes, He can! It is life-sustaining truth to know that “My word that goes out from my mouth will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11, NIV)
Here is a word from the Word. May the Spirit use the eternal Truth to inspire, in you and me, the faith to let God be God! “I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts as you trust in him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love really is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it. Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now glory be to God! By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope. May he be given glory in the church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever through endless ages. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:17-21, NLT)
(don’t skip this hymn, pause and listen as you look at the words.
it is an amazingly inspiring prayer)
Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart
Naught be all else to me, Save that Thou art
Thou my best thought by day or by night
Waking or sleeping Thy presence my light
Be Thou my wisdom, and Thou my true Word
I ever with Thee, and Thou with me Lord
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son
Thou in me dwelling and I with Thee one
Riches I heed not, Nor man’s empty praise
Thou mine inheritance, Now and always
Thou and Thou only , first in my heart
High King of heaven, my treasure Thou art
High King of heaven, when vict’ry is won
May I reach heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall
Still be my vision, O Ruler of all
Eleanor Henrietta Hull © Words: Public Domain