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Looting artifacts in a pandemic: Reframing spiritual adversity as opportunity

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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Looting artifacts in a pandemic: Reframing spiritual adversity as opportunity
Rare bronze artifacts from a presentation of the Israel Antiquities Authority in Caesarea, Israel. May 16, 2016.

One of my great joys is leading study tours to the Holy Land. In fact, I would be there now except for the pandemic.

Much of what we see in Israel has been made available to us by archaeologists who work with remarkable fortitude and expertise to bring the past to the present. The artifacts they discover are obviously unique and irreplaceable.

This is why I read this story with such anger and dismay: smugglers are using coronavirus lockdowns to pillage archaeological sites and sell their finds on online black markets.

Restrictions in response to the pandemic have left archaeological sites, museums, and similar locations with less protection. And the economic downturn is making more people desperate. One looter even posted a video of himself robbing a tomb recently.

Reframing spiritual adversity as opportunity

One of the tragedies of this tragedy is the way it is leading to other tragedies. Some patients suffering from non-coronavirus problems are apparently not going to hospitals for treatment, which is obviously dangerous for them. The economic devastation resulting from the virus is affecting everyone.

We are fighting a war on many fronts.

There is a spiritual warning here: our spiritual enemy delights in using adversity to spawn greater adversity. He tempts us to turn from God at the very time when we most need to turn to God. When we are sheltering in private, he tempts us to commit private sins.

Such malice is true to his nature: “He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).

Our enemy cannot attack the Father, so he attacks his children.

As a result, it is even more vital that we stay close to our Lord in these days. One way is to reframe adversity as opportunity. When we are tempted by sin, turn immediately to God for his strength. When we face discouragement, turn to him for courage. When we are anxious, ask him for peace.

You are undoubtedly familiar with this text: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6–7). But note what comes first: “The Lord is at hand” (v. 5).

We can pray about “everything” because God is present in every moment. We can turn anything into a prayer request because our Father will hear every request we pray.

Corrie ten Boom noted: “Any concern too small to be turned into a prayer is too small to be made into a burden.”

Why do you need to pray to your Father right now?