Whatever else you think about the Coronavirus pandemic, we can all agree on one thing: It’s unprecedented in our lifetimes. Never before, even during the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic, has society virtually shut down. So… what does it all mean? There must be meaning somewhere, right? For Christians, yes. We worship a God who is in control, and we know that he uses all things for his purposes—all things.
Now please understand: I’m NOT saying God caused this virus; what I am saying is that he can use it.
There’s an often-quoted truth among Christians: “What the enemy means for evil, God uses for good.” The thing is—we drive ourselves silly trying to figure out what good can possibly come from some hard circumstances. And while I don’t claim to know that, I do know one thing: When God is moving in our lives, he often does it in some very unusual ways.
God Does the UNEXPECTED.
True story. God will sometimes (often?) use unexpected circumstances or people to do those things that he wants to accomplish in our lives. The bottom line is this: We don’t naturally expect good things to happen as a result of bad things. Why? Because in the natural realm, things don’t work that way.
But God doesn’t do things the natural way.
God has his own way of doing things. Let’s rehash a few painful circumstances that he had in mind, from the beginning, for good.
Joseph was sold into slavery and that can’t be good. But what happened? He became second in command of Egypt to provide for God’s people during an historic famine. But why did there have to be a famine? So that Jacob and his family would come to Egypt. But why did they have to come to Egypt? Because they were unprotected. Since Jacob’s family wasn’t big enough to withstand attacks and assimilation by other nations, they needed to be under the protection of a superpower. That would be Egypt. But why did they have to suffer slavery? If they hadn’t been slaves, the Egyptians would’ve wanted to intermarry with them and the Jewish race would, again, have been swallowed up by another culture. All of those things—the famine, the migration, the slavery—were painful circumstances, but when God finally led the Israelites out of Egypt, there were at least a million of them—strong enough to survive as a nation. The “tragedy” of Egypt was like an incubation period for the Jewish race. God wrought good from evil.
Christ died a brutal and torturous death on a cross. And as Christians, we know now why he did it and how that worked out, but the people of his time didn’t know, didn’t understand, and they were heartbroken. But then they received the revelation that “without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin.” Jesus, they came to realize, was the Lamb of God—but they couldn’t see that at the time.
What painful thing might God be using right now to accomplish some greater purpose in your life—and you just can’t see it yet?
So… what’s the good in this whole COVID-19 thing? People are sick and dying, after all, and many are out of work. Yes, that’s true and not to be dismissed, so can there be any good in this? Let’s consider:
- People are spending more time with their families. Granted, they have to but, given what our culture has become, would that ever happen any other way?
- People are being asked to consider what others might need, to care for others, and to begin to think in terms of “others first”. That wasn’t a big priority before this virus hit.
- People are thinking more about God. Why? Because, perhaps for the first time, people are turning to him for protection and provision—and in this culture, many people have never had to do that before.
- People have “alone time” and things are slowing down. If we learn to rest, to read—even the art of face-to-face communication, that can only be a good thing.
- People are learning other things, too—to cook for example. My niece has started a FB page called Cooking from Home—check it out.
- Parents are homeschooling their children. This means that many parents who have never been involved in their children’s education before are now immersed in it; they’re helping with homework, instilling discipline, and even doing the teaching. Bottom line: Kids are seeing that their parents value education.
There’s much that we’ll never understand about how or why God chooses to do what he does but that’s where faith comes in. If we believe that God loves us, then we choose to believe that “All things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). We may not see the good, we not understand the pain, but we believe there is purpose because we know that God is good.
No matter what.