Monday, March 16, 2020

Trusting God with Coronavirus

“God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble” (Psalm 46:1 NLT).

The Bible teaches us that God is above every storm and can be trusted in every situation.

Bible commentators believe Psalm 46 was written with King Hezekiah in mind, when a great enemy surrounded Jerusalem. The account is found in 2 Kings 18-19 and Isaiah 36-37. The king of Assyria and his massive army blockaded the city and waited, instilling fear into the people. Hezekiah, with the counsel of the prophet Isaiah, took the threats they heard back to the Lord and prayed. God told them to not give into fear and put their trust in Him. In one of the great deliverances of the Old Testament, the Lord intervened and protected His people.

The psalmist, celebrating this victory, reminds us of seven realities to remember when we find ourselves in a storm.

1.       God is always ready to be our refuge and strength (1).

In troubled times, the Lord wants us to run to Him first for help, for refuge, and for strength. We learn to talk to Him habitually, ask for His help, and tell Him our troubles.

We don’t just gather the wagons in a circle with our friends, but we go to Him as the One who sticks closer than a brother – the ultimate Friend who is made for the day of adversity.

2.       We don’t have to give into fear when trouble comes (2-3).

When fear hits a society, people panic. I heard a worker for Pepsi say yesterday they required a police escort this week to accompany their delivery of water. In almost hysteria, people have been purchasing loads of toilet paper. No, you probably don't need 21 cases of it. But you probably do need one or two!

Remember, God holds the ultimate keys to life and death.

Martin Luther, the great Reformer, lived in an era when the Black Death took many lives. He once wrote, “I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance inflict and pollute others and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, He will surely find me, and I have done what He has expected of me, and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me however, I shall not avoid place or person. I shall go freely as stated above. See this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God” (Luther’s Works; Vol. 43, pg. 132).

You cannot die until God allows it. No, that does not guarantee a long life. Some godly people die young, and some ungodly ones live to be old. But ultimately, though we take precautions, we trust our mortality to the One who created us.

We are wise to eat healthily, avoiding lots of sugar and bad carbs, exercise regularly and take vitamin supplements. However, people who practice all of that sometimes die at age 40, and some folks who eat chili cheeseburgers every week live to be 100! 

Likewise, I can quarantine myself from everyone and die in my house of a heart attack, aneurism, or stroke. I could also be out amongst people and never contract anything.

The Bible tells us in 1 John 4:13-19 that we are not to be controlled by fear, because we are loved by God.

3.       We are wise to be resourceful (4).

Pastor Chuck Swindoll writes, “We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.”

The psalmist celebrates the fact that a river goes through the city of God. While the source of water includes significant spiritual symbolism, their reason for enthusiasm was quite practical.

Sennacherib’s army blockaded Jerusalem, expecting to keep the people from having water. However, the Israelites prepared for such a problem. Wisdom led them to build an aqueduct underground going into the middle of the city. The project allowed fresh water to come from a spring into Jerusalem, thus “making glad the city of God.”

Today, visitors to the Holy Land can walk through “Hezekiah’s tunnel” and see this act of foresight.

God doesn’t want us to be stupid. He wants us to assess our resources, get counsel, and make plans in order to safeguard our lives. I appreciate Mark Batterson’s advice, “We should work as if it all depends on us and pray as if it all depends on God.”

The Lord has resources, wisdom, and knowledge we do not – thus we should pray hard. But many times His deliverances come after we have used our own elbow grease.

4.       The Lord’s voice is louder than the world’s storms (5-6).

In a storm, it is essential to hear from God, allowing His words to be louder than the things causing you fear. The psalmist reminds us that God wants our attention. He also reminds us how important it is to get our focus on Him: by meditating on His Word, by praying, and by singing praises to Him.

Don’t let your focus be consumed by your fears – if so, your emotions will follow your fears instead of your faith.

The media has its place and can be extremely helpful. However, some aspects of the media feed off of people’s fears, trying to make you feel like you have to keep tuning in or you will miss something crucial.

Listen to some media, but then turn it off. Don’t let watching the news be the last thing you do before going to sleep. If so, your subconscious mind dwells on all of that information all night long. Instead, put God’s Word into your mind before you head to sleep. Let His Word be your last thought.

Spiritual habits helps us to keep our ears tuned to Him during fearful times.

In 1948, C.S. Lewis advised in light of the threat of the atomic bomb, "The first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds."

5.       His presence is our best ally (7,11).

The Lord wants us to live aware of His Presence. The missionary statesman Hudson Taylor said, “All God’s giants have been weak men who did great things for God because they reckoned on God being with them.”

The constant presence of the Lord is our greatest resource, ally, and asset.

The Lord encourages His people in Isaiah 41:9-10 with, “I said, ‘You are my servant’; I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand’ ” (NIV).

And the author of Hebrews reminds us, “God has said, ‘Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.’So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.What can mere mortals do to me?’ ” (13:5-6 NIV).

Pastor John Newton wrote, “Thou art coming to a King, large petitions with thee bring, for His grace and power are such, none can ever ask too much.”

6.       He is much greater than any problem or threat on earth (8-9).

One truth experienced repeatedly in the Scriptures is that God is bigger than our obstacles. He is greater than a closed womb, the Red Sea and Egypt’s army, Jericho’s walls, hungry lions, a massive giant, and vicious enemies. God’s people are to put our trust in Him in spite of our mountains.

Proverbs 3:5-6 remind us to “trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” (NASB).

The Lord tells us in Isaiah 44:6, “I am the first and I am the last, and there is no God besides Me” (NASB).

7.       God will be honored and accomplish His purposes (10).

Verse ten, the most familiar one of the psalm, calls us to be still, cease striving, and know that He is God.

When Jesus wanted to feed the 5000 men plus their families, and the disciples told Jesus to “send them home,” he simply instructed them, “Sit down.”

In my sanctified imagination, it’s as If I hear Jesus say, “I do not need your help. Sit down. Be quiet. I have got this one without your help.”

Sometimes I’m sure God needs to speak that to me when I am fearful, anxious, or troubled.

Sit down and trust God. He reminds them, in the midst of all of this trouble, “I will be exalted.” God will work out His plans. He will accomplish His purposes. And He will bring Himself glory.

We are wise to submit to Him, get on His agenda, and live for His glory here and now.

Have fears and worries about Coronavirus? Click here.

Pictures used by permission from Pixabay.

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