Talking with a beloved aunt today, she said something pretty insightful. She spoke of how this corona virus, and the accompanying panic, is a reflection of hopelessness on top of hopelessness. She pointed out that, as a society, we’ve done a barely-sufficient job of masking our hopelessness. Unfortunately, sometimes our self-protection has led to suicide, opiate addiction, divorce, adultery, identity crisis, and a whole host of other painful situations that leave a wake of wreckage.
This corona virus has sent us over the top. If we were already hopeless, things just became terrifying. A hopeless-seeming situation handed down to a generally hopeless civilization.
I am not trying to make anyone feel judged or criticized by my diagnosis of our society. I used to be hopeless myself. I was a suicidal drug addict, treating myself like a prostitute, wading through a crippling identity crisis. Something like this would have likely pushed me well over the precipice of sanity. Who am I to judge?
But I am also here as a testimony of hope.
I have wrestled with my own anxieties over this virus. I am sometimes anxious about what the government and society will do with all this unrest. Am I going to have robbers breaking into my house to steal supplies, or the National Guard breaking in to steal my freedom? I am anxious about how to effectually love each of my neighbors through all of these taut emotions. How do I keep others safe by keeping distance, yet tend to the one who feels isolated and alone? How do I keep my confidence from increasing others’ fears? I wonder about the Biblical prophesies, regarding the end of the world, and how some of the things happening now seem to be laying the foundation beams for these prophesies to be fulfilled. What will that look like for me and for my family which spans from the top left corner of the country to the bottom right? For us, it’s not only our parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, it’s also 2/3 of our kids!
Yet, here’s what enables me to wrestle through these concerns with joy and peace: I fight from a place of hope!
When I was talking to this beloved aunt on the phone earlier (because that’s what we do right now, isn’t it? We call our loved ones!), she also said something else insightful, but it only applies to those who love Jesus. She said “We are in a win-win situation!” You see, if I die, I go to a place of eternal, unimaginable bliss, unstained by any of the fears, anxieties, worries, pain, suffering, etc. which are so evident in this world surrounding. I don’t have to fear corona, because my heart is bound for Glory! I don’t have to fear civil unrest, because I know my God is still good and still in control.
Talking to a young couple (who I dearly love) yesterday, she reminded me of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, three Jewish boys whose story is nestled in the book of Daniel (chapter 3). King Nebuchadnezzar had made a decree in which anyone who refused to bow down to the idol he had erected would be thrown into a raging furnace to die. These boys, being surrendered to the King of the Universe, decided that it would be better to die than to dishonor God. Upon their execution, being given one last chance to bow to the idol, they boldly told Nebuchadnezzar, “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O King. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” (Dan. 3:17-18). These boys knew something only a Christian can know: Our God is able to save, but even if He doesn’t save us from trials, or even death, in this life, we have a greater hope!
I tap on these keys, knowing some will read this and roll their eyes, and I guess i just have to be okay with the mocking, because what I am saying is vital enough that even if just one person hears and it resonates, it would be worth it. So, here’s what I really want to say to you…
There is hope! Hope that is invisible, yet more real than anything your eyes can absorb! Hope that will last longer than all the generations of this world! Hope displayed, through a Roman torture device, just what Triumph over sin and death looks like! Hope that reigns supreme over all creation and really does work all things (even painful, scary things) out for good to those who put their trust in Him. Hope that goes by the name “Jesus”. If you don’t already know Him, I’d like to introduce you. He’s my very Best Friend in the whole wide world!
He is the reason that, even in this time of great unrest, I am not afraid. I know my God is able to save, yet even if He lets me die in this furnace, I have a Hope that triumphs! When I die, or the sky splits open and the King of Glory descends, my hope will be given sight, and I will be most happy forever with Him!
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18)