The coronavirus pandemic is causing a wave of “firsts” in our day. Here are some examples.
Top Gun: Maverick, the long-anticipated sequel to Top Gun, was supposed to be in theaters on June 24 but has been delayed to December 23.
It joins other summer blockbusters in facing delays, including the latest James Bond movie, Wonder Woman 1984, and Ghostbusters: Afterlife. Marvel’s Black Widow and Tom Hanks’ World War II drama Greyhound have been taken off the calendar.
As you may have heard, the Wimbledon tennis championships have been canceled for the first time in peacetime. All major sports leagues have suspended play. The 2020 Summer Olympics were postponed until 2021. The French Open was postponed until the fall. The Kentucky Derby was postponed until September 5. The Boston Marathon was rescheduled for September 14.
The Tony Awards were postponed. The Southern Baptist Convention has canceled its annual meeting for the first time. And the Democratic National Convention was moved to August 17.
Finding strength for the battle
As we respond to a pandemic unprecedented in our generation, let’s seek a turning to God that is unprecedented for us as well. The greater the crisis, the greater the opportunity to trust the crisis to our Lord.
Consider this story from 2 Chronicles 14:
“Abijah slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city of David. And Asa his son reigned in his place. In his days the land had rest for ten years. And Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the LORD his God. He took away the foreign altars and the high places and broke down the pillars and cut down the Asherim and commanded Judah to seek the LORD, the God of their fathers, and to keep the law and the commandment. He also took out of all the cities of Judah the high places and the incense altars. And the kingdom had rest under him. He built fortified cities in Judah, for the land had rest. He had no war in those years, for the LORD gave him peace. And he said to Judah, ‘Let us build these cities and surround them with walls and towers, gates and bars. The land is still ours, because we have sought the LORD our God. We have sought him, and he has given us peace on every side.’ So they built and prospered. And Asa had an army of 300,000 from Judah, armed with large shields and spears, and 280,000 men from Benjamin that carried shields and drew bows. All these were mighty men of valor” (vv. 1–8).
So far, so good. This feels a little like our prosperity and security before the coronavirus pandemic began. But here’s what happens next:
“Zerah the Ethiopian came out against them with an army of a million men and 300 chariots, and came as far as Mareshah. And Asa went out to meet him, and they drew up their lines of battle in the Valley of Zephathah at Mareshah” (vv. 9–10).
How did the king respond to this crisis unprecedented in his lifetime?
“And Asa cried to the LORD his God, ‘O LORD, there is none like you to help, between the mighty and the weak. Help us, O LORD our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this multitude. O LORD, you are our God; let not man prevail against you'” (v. 11).
Here’s how God responded: “So the LORD defeated the Ethiopians before Asa and before Judah, and the Ethiopians fled. Asa and the people who were with him pursued them as far as Gerar, and the Ethiopians fell until none remained alive, for they were broken before the LORD and his army. The men of Judah carried away very much spoil. And they attacked all the cities around Gerar, for the fear of the LORD was upon them. They plundered all the cities, for there was much plunder in them. And they struck down the tents of those who had livestock and carried away sheep in abundance and camels. Then they returned to Jerusalem” (vv. 12–15).
I am certainly not claiming that if we turn to God in faith, the coronavirus pandemic will be instantly defeated and we will be healed.
But I am claiming that if we turn to God in faith, we will have his strength, provision, hope, and even his joy.
Whether he calms the storm or lets the storm rage and calms his child, we will have his best.
Who is your greatest enemy today?