AND WE KNOW that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 ESV
Frustrating, inconvenient, painful, and at times traumatic events and circumstances affect our lives. They can be little things, like hitting all red lights on your way across town or as severe as holding the hand of a spouse when an oncologist explains the course of treatment and dim prognosis.
Moments like this strike us suddenly: when marriages fall apart, children turn their backs on their family, when a job, or worse, a home is lost. But recently with the circumstances of our community, nation and world, evolving daily we find the trauma in how we realize just how vulnerable we are and not in control of our own destiny.
Instead of business as usual, we are at home, listening to the decisions of governors and our president alongside health care professionals. Our children and grandchildren are not packing their lunches and spending time with their friends at school, learning from the gifted hands and minds of our teachers.
When we are ill, we are met in the parking lot by a person in a mask and gloves, not allowed to enter the doctor’s office.
Panic over toilet paper seems to be dying down, but tensions between parents, within the family being forced into confinement together are running high. The single person, limited to calls, Facebook and letters to stay connected to the outside world struggles with depression, anxious thoughts and feeling forgotten.
Everyone, the family and the single person, seem to be wrestling with financial worries and the thought of how these weeks and months will affect the national economy and their jobs.
It is times like these that I look up and say, “Okay Lord, let’s see you use this one for good.” It seems like a hopeless situation, as people are reacting to the changes in their lives at an impulse instead of responding thoughtfully and many times looking for someone to blame.
If anything good were to come from the crisis we are in, it would have to happen at the hand of the one who has, in the past, moved to chaos and brought order and blessing to life (Genesis 1). He alone has the power and the ability to take what is broken and to restore it.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that the pandemic is a good thing, or that we will one day look back and say that it was a good thing. Just like the divorce, the child denying its family, the devastating prognosis, being laid off or becoming homeless, is never a good thing. None of the suffering experienced in this life is good.
However, our Lord can use it to bring about fruit as He lives and reigns through the suffering experienced in this life (Romans 5).
Last month I, along with many of you, started to pray that our Lord move through this crisis and fear generated by the COVID-19 virus.
For one thing, He has given us the ability to slow our lives down. To reflect on what is important, and what it is that we place our trust in.
It is no little thing that this trying time has forced us to do the only thing we can, to be at our homes and be still (Psalm 46) as our Lord displays how He is our fortress.
He is using the minds, the hands, and the drive of individuals within the healthcare system to bring about healing. He is reigning through the authorities He has established to bring about direction and leadership for the preservation of His people. He has even shown how His law is written on our hearts as a people across the world, that we are to love the Lord with our whole heart, soul, and mind, and to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-39).
The generosity and sense of community as companies, individuals, and the government agencies work toward demonstrating love for the beings that were created in God’s image (Genesis 1:26-27).
Plus, just look at what He has done in the Church — live streaming services, online Bible study, digital devotions, members reaching out to one another delivering groceries and checking up on each other. He is teaching us through all this, the truth of His word when He said it was not good for us to be alone (Genesis 2:18).
We will never be able to look back on this pandemic and say that it was a good thing. But we are already seeing how God is using all things in this life to work together for His good. He is reigning through the suffering, and He is daily moving to the brokenness of the world and restoring it.
Just as He daily moves to you, in your frustrations, confusion, limitations and vulnerability. He builds you up with His word that reminds you that He will never leave or forsake you, and that even if the mountains fall into the sea He is your God and salvation.
He has already done the greatest act of re-creation in your life.
By His death and resurrection on Easter morning He has brought forgiveness to your soul, victory over Satan’s accusations, and has stripped death of its power.
He can even take the violence and repulsive image of a crucifixion and turn it into a lifesaving tree to which we run every day.
Our victory over this present crisis has already come because we know that this circumstance is only temporary, it is fleeting and it will pass. But the eternal life given through the atoning work of Jesus our Lord and savior who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, is a gift that will never end.
To Him be the glory even amid these trying, frustrating times. Amen.
Issues of Faith is a rotating column by five religious leaders on the North Olympic Peninsula. The Rev. Dr. Patrick Lovejoy is pastor at St. Matthew Lutheran Church i n Port Angeles. He can be contacted at 360-457-4122 or [email protected]mail.com.