On Monday 23rd March 2020, life as we know it in the UK changed. The pages of history were marked by an announcement that would never be forgotten. The British Prime Minister announced the enforcement of a nationwide lockdown like we'd never seen before. The cause: Coronavirus (COVID-19). A pandemic that spun nations into chaos. And on the back of the Prime Minister's announcement, the UK joined the list of other nations taking further steps against the virus.
Businesses rolled down their shutters for an indefinite amount of time. [Some] Civilians entered their homes knowing they might not leave for a while. And in the midst of it all, what influenced your thoughts and where your mind went? Was it the noise of the media, where fear and panic ran thick? Or maybe those social media posts about your need to get right with God, because this was a correction/punishment/wakeup call? There's a lot of noise going on in these uncertain times. Many opinions. Many analyses on what God or Satan is or isn't doing. And many points of focus that are desperate for our attention. It can be frustrating, overwhelming or even discouraging, as you go to and fro between the various voices in this time.
Here's the thing. If you're looking to find out if coronavirus is a sign of the end of the age, then I really don't have the answer for you. But if that's a question you're wondering, then I'd challenge you to question your question. Why is the answer to that question so important? What's really behind your curiosity? Is it because you're really keen to see eternity ushered in? Or is it because you're scared of getting caught off-guard by Jesus - confronted in a time when you weren't certain you're 'cool' with God?
Unpacking The Fear... I remember the fear I had for years. The fear that Jesus would return whilst I was acting a fool. I was aware of my sin and the uncertainty of my eternal destination. But I didn't fully understand the saving gospel message. So most nights, as I laid my head to rest, I finished the day with a ritualistic prayer: "Father forgive me for my sins, known and unknown".
It wasn't because I was genuinely ready for change. I just didn't want to get caught. So I prayed nothing short of a "fire insurance" prayer. Something to "protect" me in the worst case scenario, whether or not I saw it coming. In these moments, I ask you: has this recent pandemic sparked up the same fear in you? If it has, then maybe it's an opportunity to get things in order for real this time. Not because it's certain that tomorrow is the final day. Not because you're looking for a quick-fix to keep you safe. But because you've encountered the Holy God and Father of creation. Because you've seen Jesus and the cross, and seen the beauty of the gospel message. I invite you to think through this closely. Ask yourself, 'Am I Really A Christian?' (click here for a self-assessment post on this subject).
During these uncertain times on Earth, there's a confidence God's children can have. It's not one we wear automatically - overindulgence of fear-driving content from a Christ-less perspective can definitely breed fear (even in a Christian). It's a confidence we have to choose in the midst of chaos, coronavirus and unrest. It's a confidence we have to contend for when we feel fear knocking on our door. It's not a confidence that comes from a life without sin (far from it, since we acknowledge the journey of growing daily to be more like Jesus, but don't ignore our room for growth). It's not a confidence that comes from an absolute guarantee that Coronavirus (or any other form of sickness/difficulty etc) won't affect any Christians or their loved ones (we stand firm in believing it will go well with us, but even if it doesn't, we don't base our confidence on this - see Daniel 3:16-18 and 2 Corinthians 11:24-28). Instead, we base our confidence on this one thing: the unshakeable, eternal hope we have because of Jesus.
"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us" - Romans 8:18
Whether things go great on Earth or not, whether coronavirus is a sign of the end or not, whether we have five minutes left or five decades: when all is said and done, we have the promise of eternal life. A new heaven, and a new earth where pain, sorrow, suffering and coronavirus is no more. "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. I also saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband.
Then I heard a loud voice from the throne: Look, God’s dwelling is with humanity, and he will live with them. They will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them and will be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; grief, crying, and pain will be no more, because the previous things have passed away" - Revelation 21:1-4
If you've already surrendered your life and received the gospel message, then remember our message of hope. Don't let the shaking of this world cause you to forget that greater lies ahead.
If you've not yet surrendered fully, or you're not sure, then I invite you to respond to God today. Quit trying to get your life together before you come to God. It doesn't work that way! Just speak to God honestly from where you are right now and ask Him to help you get surrounded by people who can help you journey with Him. If this post blessed you, or could bless someone you know, why not share it with your network of friends and family? You never know who you might be giving an eternal lifeline by taking a moment to pass this on.
Useful resource: Chasing The Heart Of God - 7 Day Devotional