2.1 Billion with a B.
Yes, I said B B B B Billion.
As of March 16th, there have been 2.1 Billion mentions of the word Corona Virus. That’s up 1 BILLION uses in a little over a week. Yes, the Coronavirus is deadly and dangerous. But there’s a bigger virus spreading right now at the speed of light, and that’s fear.
I am not saying we shouldn’t be taking this problem seriously. In fact, as a church we are seeking to make sure that we are leading by example in following the recommendations of health and government officials. This is a highly contagious, sneaky virus that can have lasting effects for some. We need to be careful. Plus, when government leaders agree on something, we should probably pay attention.
But, in the midst of that, it’s so easy to get afraid. When I get a tickle in my throat, it’s easy to start wondering if I’ve caught it. Then I start worrying about if I might have given it to my wife and kids. Then the snowball starts rolling. Before long, I can be caught up in an avalanche of fear. If we’re being honest, we all have those moments.
It’s not just the virus. We worry about how the slow down in the economy is going to affect our families, communities, businesses and churches. We worry about our Easter plans, summer plans, retirement plans and toilet paper plans.
The Coronavirus spreads quickly, but there’s a virus spreading amongst us at the speed of light. It’s travelling around the globe millions of times per second. It’s side effects are panic, fear-mongering, profiteering, obsessive hand washing and toilet paper stockpiling.
Last week, I shared three ways to deal with the fear in this post. And, they remain true. But, there’s something else we need. Hope.
We need to be ambassadors of hope.
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.Romans 5:1-5
Hope does not disappoint.
A crisis has a way of revealing a lot of things about a person. The biggest revelation may be where we have put our hope or our trust.
“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”Psalm 27:7
When our trust is in anything other than God and a crisis hits that we don’t know how to deal with, the very foundations of our lives are shattered. This is what’s been happening right now. Our lives have been built on our belief in ourselves. Our lives have been built on the lies of secular society thinking we can have it all. Our lives have been built on the myth that the government has everything under control. (Okay, maybe not that last one so much.)
When we go through a crisis and our hope is shattered, it’s a wake up call.
But, when our hope is in the right place it actually shapes the entire way we perceive the crisis. “but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” When our hope is in the Lord, in the maker of heaven and earth, the creator and sustainer of all things, we know that God is going to use this for our Good and His glory.
In other words, we know the outcome. We know how the story ends. We don’t know the “long middle”, but we know that in the end God works all things for our good and His glory. All things. Not some things all things. So, while we may not understand what’s happening right now, we can be confident of this, “That he who began a good work in us will carry it on to completion.” (Phil 2:6) And we can be sure that this season will work to bring the completion God desires for us.
This is not “The End”. It’s the beginning or the middle, but not the end. The end is, God wins. The end is Love wins. The end for the believe is that God will rescue, redeem and restore all things. All things will be made new. New heavens and a new earth. New you and a new me. The fragility of our current circumstances will replace with absolute completion and perfection in the presence of God himself.
In fact, I fully believe this is something that God is going to use to bring about spiritual awakening in the church and the salvation of many lost souls. People are being confronted right now with their crumbling foundations. People’s lives have been and are being shaken to the core. And people are starting to realize that they aren’t enough to sustain themselves. People are starting to realize their lives have been built upon lies that have been sold to them that offer nothing when real life smacks you in the face.
This may be the work of the Devil himself, trying to seclude the move of God that has already started. But God can’t be contained. God is greater than this virus. God is greater than the fear surrounding the virus. All we have to do is get on His side and we win.
So be filled with hope. Be a purveyor of hope. Don’t allow yourself to pass on and stir up the fear that is all around us. Stop the flow of fear and start the flow of hope.