The word of the year for 2020 (excluding names of things) will surely be ‘unprecedented’ and in one way this would be a very accurate representation of 2020. Things are very different from normal.
Shops, schools, and offices are closed, streets are empty, and everywhere is plastered with signs about social distancing and hand washing. However, in another way this pandemic is just another example – albeit on a larger scale – of the way the world is all the time.
Don’t Forget the Reality of the World
The pandemic we are currently facing is something we need to take seriously. It has cost people their loved ones. It is pushing medical personnel and other essential workers to their limits. It is also causing anxiety for those without job security or enough money to live on.
Yet, it should not shock or surprise us. The world has always been full of instability and sadness that this is nothing new. What is new is how many people are effected by this event. In the book of James, he talks about how it is foolish to trust in yourself and assume everything will always go well for you.
In chapter 4, verses 13-15 he says, ‘Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. You ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”’
James is not claiming that making plans is wrong but he is saying that when we get so caught up making plans that we forget it is actually God who is in charge of the world, then we are making a big mistake and that leads us to being blind-sided when disaster happens.
If all our hope and trust is in ourselves and our plans, how great humanity is or how well things are going in our lives at the moment, then we are in for a rude awakening when reality breaks in.
Disasters Magnify what is Always Happening
There is nothing new about the latest pandemic that wasn’t already around before. There has always been death, sickness, and grief, there is always people being selfish, greedy, and obstinate. There is also always people being kind, helpful, and selfless.
The surprising thing about this latest pandemic is simply the scale of it but even that is not new – in history there have been many pandemics that have taken vast amounts of lives and spread like wildfire. This is surprising because it is happening to us but it is not surprising that it is happening.
The True Place to Find Security
The world is full of uncertainty, strife, and pain but that is not something that needs to render us hopeless. While suffering is inevitable and awful, it is not the end of the story.
As the writer of Hebrews says in chapter 13, verse 8 – ‘Jesus Christ is the same – yesterday, today, and forever.’ God does not change, he is completely reliable, and trustworthy, he is in complete control and best of all he loves and cares for us no matter what happens or what we do.
He loves us so much that he gave his one and only son (who willingly) died on a cross in our place to take our punishment so that we may be reconciled to God and have a sure and certain hope that can carry us through even the most difficult of times.
Being a Christian doesn’t prevent suffering from happening to us but it does give us a something we can anchor our lives to – something that no amount of storms can wash away.
As the Psalmist says in Psalm 46, verses 1 to 3, ‘God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.’
Also further down in the same Psalm, verse 11 continues, ‘The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.’
Life is fraught with difficulty and God understands it is stressful and upsetting but he also longs for us to set our eyes on him, the one who holds the universe in his hands and loved us so much that he died for us – now that was an unprecedented event!
Jessica McPherson lives with her best friend and husband, Eoin and their family of rescue animals in Christchurch. She loves reading, writing, photography and scrap-booking but most of all sharing God’s love and truth with a hurting world. Jessica is particularly passionate about encouraging children and building them up in gospel truth.