Let’s be clear. This worldwide pandemic is a tragedy. Thousands have died, hundreds of thousands have been infected with the virus, and only God knows how many more lives it will touch. But with tragedy and trial, you often find blessing. Think of the words of Joseph to his brothers. “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for God, to bring about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today” (Genesis 50:20). In this fallen, sinful world, there is going to be pain and suffering and tragedy, but God is still at work. That is why Christians claim and believe the promise of Romans 8:28. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
In no way do I want to minimize the magnitude of what has transpired, but I do hope to expand your perspective to see some of the ways God is at work. With that disclaimer in mind, here are seven blessings from this pandemic.
- Slowing down
It has been well documented that people are too busy these days, and this by our own confession. How many times have you heard someone say “I’m so busy!” You’ve probably said that yourself. We can all attest to our crazy-busy lifestyles, but yet we struggle to say “no” to the things that contribute to such a pace.
What a blessing that in the midst of suffering and death, many of us have been forced to slow down. Having said that, it is only a blessing if we invest ourselves in things of eternal value. Don’t waste this precious time by watching endless hours of TV or in some other endeavor that profits little. Redeem the time (Ephesians 5:15-16), draw near to God (James 4:8), and in love seek to serve one another (Galatians 5:13).
- More family time
One of the things that has suffered from our fast-paced lifestyles is the family. We often say “yes” to all kinds of different things, but “no” to things of supreme importance – things like family life.
If you have been forced to come home and can’t work, then use that time to invest in your kids, or to work on your marriage. What a blessing this can be! Think of the times where you have been in a restaurant and seen families eating together but not interacting. Their heads were down and they were all engaging with their mobile device, but not one another. Don’t waste this opportunity to spend meaningful time with your spouse and kids.
- Cultural idols are being taken away
Another blessing is that many of our cultural idols are gone, at least for a time. A big one is sports. When college and pro sports started to be cancelled, a lot of people were ticked off but I was actually happy. I recognized this as a blessing from the Lord because one of my idols was being taken away.
Many sports fans are beginning to realize that life goes on, even after most sports have ceased for the time being. This is true of all the other cultural idols that have been affected. I hope that Christians will take inventory of their lives and see what is primary, and what is secondary or somewhere down the line. Though not always bad, it is often these secondary things that keep us from God.
- Our Hope must be in God alone
It has been remarkable to watch how fast things change. A few weeks ago, the economy was ticking along and aside from the usual political bantering, everything seemed pretty stable. But since the emergence of the Coronavirus, we have come to see how fragile and unstable things really are. Again, this is a good thing.
Christians were never meant to put their hope and trust in their country or in modern civilization. The Bible says that our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20). To trust in government, science, modern medicine, or your own wealth and resources, is to set yourself up for disappointment.
Psalm 42:11 is a great reminder: “Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.”
- A reminder that we are mortal
At the time of this writing, there were over 22,000 confirmed deaths worldwide. That is a staggering number and we know it is going to grow exponentially in the coming weeks. However, a quick study of world history will show that plagues and pandemics were much more common in ages past. We have been spared from them in recent times and this has had the effect of producing an ignorance or even denial of death.
Once again, the truth of Scripture brings much needed clarity. “O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath!” (Psalm 39:4-5)
- Longing for Heaven
We live in a fallen world. What we are seeing all around us only serves to confirm what the Bible teaches us in Genesis 3 and what follows. If this pandemic doesn’t make you long for heaven, I don’t know what will!
Thankfully, God has not left this world in its sinful, fallen state. Through the gospel, God is working to redeem a people for himself, who will call upon His name (Romans 10:13). He is preparing a place for them (John 14:3), and that place will be void of suffering (Revelation 22:1-4).
This side of heaven we cannot escape the effects of the fall and we cannot escape sin. But God has a much better place in store for all His chosen ones. This is good news! This is a message that the world is desperate to hear, and it should thrill our hearts as Christians.
- New opportunities for love and good works
We are being told to isolate ourselves to slow the spread of the virus, and it is wise to follow such advice. However, we must be careful that we don’t cut ourselves off completely from one another. As things progress, there are going to be needs that begin to emerge. There are going to be people who need our help, especially those who are elderly.
Again, if we turn back the pages of history, we see that it is times like these (and there is nothing new under the sun) where the people of God have truly shined. They have always been on the front lines of service and mercy ministries, and it has been a powerful testimony to the watching world.
So be prudent in your approach, but find creative ways to reach out to those around you.
As I close, let me leave you with the words of Jesus from John 14:27. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
As Christians, we can know for certain that God is at work, even in the midst of a pandemic. God’s purposes and plans will prevail (Psalm 46:8-10) and it is critical for us to recognize some of the blessings that God is giving us through the Coronavirus. Glory be to God!