I have long loved Romans 8:28. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” I have my own paraphrase of that text.
“God is determined to direct every single experience of His elect in such a way that it will contribute to their long term good and eternal joy.”
That means that our experiences are crafted by God. This would include our highest delights and our most grievous sorrows. This is why Joseph could tell his brothers that they intended it for evil, but God intended it for good. The very same act that was intended in one direction, was also intended by a gracious and loving God.
I don’t know how it is possible that global events correspond to personal experiences. How does God take a global event, like the present pandemic, and then artistically design that event for every single one of his children, ensuring that their experience of this event will contribute to their long term good, but I am satisfied that a God of infinite intellect is able to do just that.
How then, can the current crisis lead to our eternal good? In the space below, I list some of the possible ways in which it might do so.
Feel free to make your own list.
- The current pandemic forces me to look to that which is unseen and eternal. Sports, concerts, coffee shops and restaurants have all been taken from me. Some of us have lost our jobs. Some of us have lost our health. In times like these, I am forced to examine that which brings me the greatest joy. I am forced to ask whether my testimony of loving eternal things is true or not. This may be a time to repent.
- The current pandemic may provide openings to share my faith. A great many people are confused that our modern technological society did not prevent this disaster. Were we ever in control? Christians who are receptive to the Holy Spirit will look for opportunities to share the good news of the gospel.
- The current pandemic may provide opportunities for church communities to reach out to people in need. Of course, this will mean that all of us who have work, are willing to contribute generously.
- The times of solitude may provide greater opportunities for prayer and reflection. Perhaps this is a wonderful time to repent of all known sins and seek a fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit.
- These times may lead us to think more clearly about the second coming of our Lord. The hope presented to us in the New Testament, is always an eschatological hope, a hope rooted in the final consummation of all things when our Lord returns. Why not use the time to re-familiarize ourselves with the book of Revelation?
- The current crisis should lead me to think deeply about what faithfulness looks like. If I am called to lay my life down during this time, am I prepared. Would I gladly give my life for another suffering person? After all, this crisis teaches me that my life is a vapour. I wonder if I forgot?
- The current crisis should ignite my prayers for the lost and the suffering, and care more deeply about my neighbour.
Above all, let’s not waste this pandemic. Let’s make our own lists of all the good and eternal things that God wishes to teach us in times like this.