Where’s Your Hope?

“But you shall cling to the Lord your God just as you have done to this day” (Joshua 23:8 ESV).

In this age of uncertainty and anxiety due to the coronavirus, what you are clinging to? News coverage? Cleaning supplies? Family members? Or to the Lord your God, the maker of heaven and earth? He’s not wringing His hands and saying, “Oh, I didn’t see that coming!” He knew it from the beginning, and it hasn’t changed the number of days any of us have written in His book (Psalm 139:16).

Statistics in 2019 showed about 41% of people are at least “somewhat” afraid of death. I suspect that figure is significantly higher when there’s a pandemic spreading. Christians need not fear death, though admittedly we might fear the process of dying as well as the impact that death has on loved ones. If we are in Christ, we know our eternal destiny is secure. We should pray that those who are not believers will give serious thought to what happens after death. The current proliferation of online church services should enable some to hear the gospel and respond if they have not yet done so.

After writing those two paragraphs I learned that someone I know died Sunday. Suddenly the pandemic had a face and a name. It was no longer just “something” out there. It ceased to be an inconvenient social experiment and became real people really dying. My prayers had been “Lord, give wisdom to the leaders and doctors and scientists to stop the spread of this disease.” Now they are more like the psalms of lament (see Psalm 13):

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How long, O Lord?
Will You forget us forever?
How long will You hide Your face from us?
How long must we have sorrow in our hearts all the day?
How many people must suffer and die?
How many will be mourning loved ones?
How many will be lacking basic necessities of life?
Lord, please intervene quickly!
We are helpless without You!

I’m sure many are asking why God is allowing this to continue. The theological arguments for the effects of the Fall on the world are good, but they don’t really touch the broken hearts of those who have lost family members. We know that God can and will bring some good out of this evil, and I hope that many will turn to faith in Him in these desperate times. But that doesn’t necessarily lessen the pain of the suffering today. Walter Kaiser wrote, “Let us also bow before our Maker and recognize His infinite wisdom in His distinctive and numerous reasons for suffering. And when [no explanation] seems to fit our own moment of crisis, then let us return to the lodestone and central affirmation of the book of Lamentations: ‘Great is Thy faithfulness.’”

“Remember my affliction and my wanderings…
My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me.
But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’
says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in Him.’
The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him.
It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord”
(Lamentations 3:19-26 ESV).

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The song “In Christ Alone” is a good reminder of our source of hope as well as the gospel message. May we place our trust in the One who has overcome sin and death for us, and therefore we may truly find our hope in Christ alone and have no fear in death, because Jesus commands our destiny. “Till He returns or calls me home, here in the power of Christ I stand.”

“For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead… But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:22, 57-58).

© 2020 Dawn Rutan. Image copyright free from pixabay.com. The opinions stated do not necessarily reflect the views of my church or employer.

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