What tough times we are living in! This is how my mind has summarized today.
You see, I woke up early this morning only to realize that electricity has gone off. Determined not to give in to despair I went out to exercise. I was looking forward to a warm shower after the exercise only to discover that the taps were dry. No water! Still determined to be more positive I get ready for the day.
Later in the morning I meet one member of our church. His wife had been in labor for the past two days and just yesterday gave birth to a baby boy. Praise the Lord! But as I meet this brother, I learn that he has not yet met his son. Actually, that’s just half of the story. This brother was not able to be with his wife when she went into labor at the hospital. He was not even there when the wife was giving birth. Reason? COVID-19 restrictions at the hospital. The hospital would not let him go and see his wife as they are trying to protect the wife and other patients from the virus. Can you imagine the agony?
Soon after this meeting I proceed to deliver food items to another family in our church that is in self-quarantine after getting in contact with a COVID-19 patient a few days ago. I bring the food items at the gate and call the husband on my phone to let him know that I am there. But wait a minute! I can’t get close to him and his family. So, he just comes out, stands at a distance as if one of us is a leper of Biblical times, and briefly greets and thanks me for the items. I head to my car to get back to office. At this time my pastoral heart is bleeding. This can’t be!
Later I get home. My girls are always excited when they hear dad’s car driving in. They come running to hug daddy. But as I jump out of the car my brain sends out a quick reminder, “Remember you can’t hug them.” So sadly, I hear myself saying, “Sorry sweetie, I can’t hug you now I am just coming from outside and who knows what is sticking to my clothes and myself.”
By this time I can’t pretend and put up a brave face any more. These are tough times we are living in.
As I reflect on the events of the day, a song we used to sing in Bible college softly echoes in my mind:
Days are filled with sorrow and care
Hearts are lonely and drear
Burdens are lifted at Calvary
Jesus is very near
Troubled soul, the Savior can see
Every heartache and tear
Burdens are lifted at Calvary
Jesus is very near
These lyrics take me to two places: The Garden and the Cross. You see the main thing to remember in these difficult times is not really the virus. It is what happened in Garden of Eden about six thousand years ago and what occurred on the mountain of Golgotha about four thousand years later.
In the garden our parents disobeyed and rebelled against God by eating the fruit they were commanded not to. With that they plunged the whole human race into sin and misery. COVID-19 is just one of the consequences of that “cosmic treason” as R.C Sproul would have put it. The broken systems of our electricity and water providers are just one of the consequences of man’s fall from grace in the garden. That single act of disobedience “made all of us liable to all miseries of this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell forever” (Westminster Shorter Catechism)
But praise the Lord that the garden is not the end of the story. Four thousand years later, God’s Son was hanged onto the cross to reverse “the damage” that our parents caused to humanity. God’s Son, Jesus Christ, nailed sin and death to the cross. As the last breath was about to leave his lungs he cried out: “It is finished!”
It is in these three words that our hope and comfort must lie. Yes COVID-19 might take our loved ones or even ourselves home. Yes COVID-19 will deny us some things we enjoy with our children like giving each other tender hugs. Yes COVID-19 has denied my friend the joy of seeing his first-born son come into the world. Yes COVID 19 has disturbed our normal relationship and routines but one thing we know for certain: “It is Finished!”
For us in Christ the momentary afflictions of this world are preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison (2 Cor. 4:17-18). One day sooner or later the Lord will wipe our tears and take away all our sorrows forever (Rev. 21:4). COVID-19 might kill the body but Christ has overcome it (John 16:33). After we have suffered a little while the God of all grace who has called us to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish us (1 Peter 5:10). Therefore, let’s bring all our burdens onto the cross that the Savior might lift them away. Let’s cast all our cares unto Christ for he cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). Our burdens might be heavy but Christ’s arms are stronger and his grace is ever sufficient.