Yesterday, I stumbled onto this Facebook post:
In three short months, just like He did with the plagues of Egypt, God has taken away everything we worship. God said, "you want to worship athletes, I will shut down the stadiums. You want to worship musicians, I will shut down Civic Centers. You want to worship actors, I will shut down theaters. You want to worship money, I will shut down the economy and collapse the stock market. You don't want to go to church and worship Me, I will make it where you can't go to church."
"If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."
Maybe we don't need a vaccine, Maybe we need to take this time of isolation from the distractions of the world and have a personal revival where we focus on the ONLY thing in the world that really matters. Jesus.”
I was absolutely horrified when I saw how many people had commented on or shared this post.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m a Christian who loves Jesus. But this post misrepresents God (and Jesus) in many awful, even harmful, ways.
God did not cause the COVID-19 Pandemic in order to take away everything we worship. God did not make it so that we could not go to worship during this time (in fact – many people are engaging in virtual worship each and every week!)
God is not petty.
While God can and does work through all things (including this), God is not out to get us; God’s not out to teach us a lesson at the expense of millions of people.
Instead, God is with us.
The Bible tells a story about a time when one of Jesus’ good friends, Lazarus, dies. As Lazarus gets sicker, his sisters, Mary & Martha, send for Jesus, hoping he’ll heal their brother. By the time he arrives, Lazarus is already dead. So, he receives Mary & Martha’s anger and their sadness.
Jesus weeps with them – even though he knows that in just a few moments, he will raise Lazarus from the dead.
Jesus weeps even though he knows the ending of the story.
So it is with this Pandemic.
God is here, weeping with us.
God is with the doctors and nurses who feel as though they can’t possibly work another day.
God is with the paramedics facing awful decisions about whether or not to bring people to the hospital.
God is with those lying in hospital beds alone, ravaged by COVID-19.
God is with those mourning the death of their loved ones as well as those who fear the death of their loved ones.
God is with those not sick enough to go to the hospital.
God is with those caring for their loved ones at home, worried that in the caring, they, too, will contract this awful disease.
God is with the grocery clerks who work to keep food on our tables.
God is with the delivery workers and truckers fighting to keep the food supply chains open.
God is with the small business owners.
God is with those who have lost their jobs and worry about where their next meal is coming from.
God is with those who, even before COVID-19 entered the scene, were struggling with mental health issues.
God is with those who are homeless and who have no safe place to socially isolate.
God is with those who live in the slums that COVID-19 could easily decimate.
God is with the researchers and scientists working 24/7 to find a vaccine because God knows that while we need Jesus, we also need a vaccine. Desperately.
God is with us. God is with you and with me.
Even Jesus’ name – Immanuel – reminds us of this. God with us.
From the third chapter of the Bible onward, we’re told that the world is NOT as it should be; It’s not as God created it to be.
At no point in my life have I been more acutely aware of this than now.
The world is NOT as it should be. The world is NOT as God created it to be.
Yet, God has not abandoned us to our own devices to teach us some costly lesson.
God is HERE.
God is catching our tears and weeping with us, just as Jesus wept with Mary and Martha.
To God, each person lost from COVID-19 is not merely a number, but one of God’s beloved children, who is fiercely loved.
God, who is sovereign, knows the ending of this Pandemic story.
And yet, God, who is merciful and compassionate, still weeps with us.
In the midst of this crisis, that’s the God I believe in; That’s the God that gives me hope.