The world and the word amidst COVID-19 (part 2 of 2)

May 23, 2020

TO give you another example, recall the 1990 earthquake which levelled the Hyatt Terraces Hotel in Baguio City. I was at the 16th floor of a Makati office building when it happened. Our ground floor housed a bank that had a vault with a huge steel door. The tremor was so strong that the vault door was actually swinging from side to side!

As our building was swaying like a bamboo stick at the middle of a tempest, my officemates and I dove underneath our desks. I heard some of them crying “Lord… have mercy…”. But I felt no panic and I didn’t say anything. It was not because I was brave and certainly not because I was too stupid to see the danger. It was that Psalm 46 came to my mind: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gave way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, and the mountains quake with their surging” (v 1-3).

Does the Psalm promise that the cement ceiling won’t collapse and grind my bones to fine dust? Not at all. Does the Psalm assure me that God is good even though He did not prevent the earthquake? Yes, it did. I know the Word (head) and it has comforted me deeply (heart). That’s being comprehensive.

Third, go to the Word Christ-centeredly.  The pandemic brings us to gratitude and grief. Gratitude for being healthy and having food to eat. Grief for those who lost a loved one to covid. A CNN news clip showed an Italian woman mourning for her father. She said “He was healthy, but he died like a dog.”

But where do we go from here? The answer is to choose to believe that, in the end, God will make everything right. Everything. If this is untrue, then someone explain to me how we get the notion of “life is unfair”? God is indeed all-good, although He doesn’t seem to be Who we think He should be. He is indeed all-powerful, although He doesn’t seem to do what we think He should do.

Gratitude and grief intersect at the goodness of God. The full manifestation of His goodness is in Jesus Christ. And that is what the Word is all about. It’s all about Jesus (Luke 24:27).

While deriving comfort from specific Bible passages, we are to keep the Big Story (meta-narrative) in mind. True, we live in a broken world; the ravaging coronavirus is but one evidence. However, all authority belongs to Christ (Matthew 28:18). He is victorious over death (1 Corinthians 15). He will return (1 Thessalonians 4:16). There will be no more death or mourning or pain (Revelation 21:4).

Yes, we are grateful. Yes, we grieve. But in the end, it will be Christ, not covid, who will have the last word.

We can be sure of that. The Bible says so. Thus we are encouraged.

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