3 ways to view the pandemic – from God’s perspective
As I ponder this past month, I’m intrigued by how the pandemic is turning people to God. Here are three ways to view the coronavirus – from God’s perspective.
#1 God has our attention.
God doesn’t have to do much to get us to look up.
A tiny microscopic virus has shut down the world. Invisible bacterial strands are circling the globe through person-to-person contact. As a result, people are frightened. We’re running from the virus.
We’ve shut down schools, businesses, governments, and some of the nation’s most sacred sporting venues – NBA, March Madness, Masters Golf tournament, and now the Olympics.
The virus is interrupting weddings, graduations, funerals, conferences and concerts.
We can’t do normal business at the court house. We can’t get an elective surgery…or a haircut.
This virus has silenced restaurants… grounded airlines… emptied churches. It is shutting down the world.
God has our attention.
In some places, the shut-in conditions are quite normal – it’s as if we’re enjoying a global holiday.
The sun is shining. The birds of spring are singing. People are out walking dogs and pushing baby strollers. Dads are in the yard playing ball with kids.
In other areas where cases are skyrocketing and hospitals are overrun, there’s chaos.
Just imagine if we had other real problems on top of the virus? Consider a list of the many areas that are humming along just fine:
- Our water supply is sufficient, and the conditions are safe for drinking.
- Our food supply is intact and the conditions are safe for consumption.
- The air we breathe is not toxic.
- The weather is mostly cooperating – isolated winter-spring storms as usual. Nothing too serious.
- The sun still shines (i.e. no extended darkness)
- We’re not at war with another nation. We’re able to focus on this virus.
- We’re not fighting terrorism or border control crisis.
- Government is operating – yes, dysfunctional but the system is working.
- Citizens are mostly cooperating – no riots or civil disruptions.
- Panic is mostly contained – except for toilet paper, no run on the banks or panic in the streets.
We’re not in the end times although we’re getting closer every day. During what Jesus calls the day of “tribulation”, we can expect many of these threats to reach peak levels – and occurring simultaneously.
But right now, God has our attention with just one threat – the virus. It’s like the common flu – but without a cure or built-in immunity. So it’s wreaking havoc on our lives.
God has our attention.
Christians are turning to God. Pulling out their Bibles. Turning online for sermons. Praying for peace and comfort to combat fear and anxiety.
Many who don’t know God are more open to understanding God than at any other time in their lives.
God has my attention, personally. I trust He has yours, too.
#2 God has a global audience.
The entire world is focused on the same thing, at the same time.
There is no more significant theme or event taking place in any part of the world. No sporting event, no governmental election, no holiday or current event has earned the attention like the virus.
The Spanish Flu of 1918 killed roughly 33 million worldwide. But the world was not connected as it is today.
WWI and WWII had a global audience – but again, global connectedness was limited. People were isolated and waited days and weeks for information.
But with this virus, everyone is on top of the news. Everyone’s an expert. Everyone has access to real time data, case counts and death tallies – nation-by-nation… state-by-state… county-by-county.
Every day when I wake up, I check the news to see what happened overnight.
What’s so significant about a global audience?
During the Great Tribulation (again, we’re not there yet), God has center stage. He wants the entire world to recognize his power, his glory… and his wrath.
In Revelation 11 we learn of two prophets to whom God grants power and authority to gain the attention of the entire world.
They will have power to release fire from their mouths, shut up the rain in the heavens, turn water into blood, strike the earth with whatever plagues they choose.
Then God will allow them to be killed by the antichrist. Their dead bodies will lie in the streets for 3 ½ days to be witnessed by all the nations. (Revelation 11:9:10)
For centuries, theologians used to marvel at these prophecies – how will the entire world witness these events? Now it makes sense. Modern technology will make it possible for the entire world to witness whatever God wants man to see.
Today God is priming the pump for a global audience to notice His power and position – as God of the universe.
This virus is like a sound check on stage – testing microphones around the world to make sure the nations are ready to tune in.
God has our attention. And His audience is global.
#3 Finally, God is receiving our worship.
As mentioned, people are turning to God in various ways. Opening Bibles. Attending online church. Praying. Serving.
But there’s a particular kind of worship we may not have anticipated. Sabbath-keeping.
The Sabbath Matters
If there’s one of the 10 commandments that seems overlooked, it’s “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8).
All the other commandments make sense to us. But honoring and keeping the sabbath has fallen so far out of favor in our lifetime. Personally, I admit I’ve struggled with how to apply it in my own home.
How ever the sabbath applies today, this much is clear. God has shut down America’s sabbath.
No March Madness, no professional sports, no senseless youth sports travel… and this summer, no Olympics.
No restaurants (still take-out and delivery though.)
And here’s a surprise – no church.
In the Old Testament, the Israelites fell out of sabbath-keeping routine. Their sabbath hooky continued for 490 years – which included 70 “sabbath years” (every seventh year for resting the land).
God orchestrated a takeover by Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar entered Jerusalem, destroyed its temple, and carried the temple contents and the people out of the city and into Babylon. The Israelites remained out of their land for 70 years.
God got His 70 “sabbath years” back (2 Chron. 36:21). And the people learned to worship again.
Something similar is happening today.
We’ve been shut out of church, sent home to learn to worship… and told to stay inside.
God is getting his people to worship again. And God is getting his Sabbath Day back.
There’s new covenant freedom for us in choosing how we will honor the sabbath. Many of us have some time in the days and weeks ahead to figure out what this might mean for our families.
Long live the pandemic effects (not the sickness)
I want the pandemic to go away. I want the virus to die forever. I want to return to much of my former life – but not all of it.
I don’t want to lose the good stuff this global pandemic has brought for families.
For me personally, God has captured my attention. I feel more connected to the nations. And God is awakening my soul to worship more fully.
May these conditions continue throughout, and beyond, the life of the COVID-19 pandemic.