by Tara Tang, CDA parent
“Wearing is caring.”
“Stay home. Save lives.”
“Flatten the curve.”
For the past 6 months, we have been inundated with coronavirus slogans. For some the slogans are a helpful mantra to follow or to remind us of this unprecedented time. For others, hearing such slogans triggers fear of the unknown and the future. And many others don’t know what to think, who to believe, and where to place one’s feet to stay grounded during this time of the current global pandemic.
Our family is no stranger to the concept of quarantine. Two of our children have a genetic condition, meaning ordinary illnesses during cold and flu season can quickly become life threatening.
Each cold and flu season brings about a special type of dread for me. Getting to March and getting through March is a goal I always look forward to accomplishing, finally ending months of worry and isolation from the various communities we hold dear.
The end of March did not bring the sweet relief I so desired. Instead, it was replaced with a new, unknown illness, one that remained unpredictable in its impact on those I love.
Three and a half months into this time of great uncertainty, my husband and I had a backyard meeting with a very kind and Godly deacon from our church. We did not discuss the fears and fatigue felt deep in my soul throughout the pandemic; but the next day, she placed a copy of Coronavirus and Christ by John Piper, in my mailbox, at no request of my own. While our online church had preached insightful and helpful sermons to help us navigate the times and keep our eyes on the Lord, His truth, His promises, His plans, I was thrilled to hear of a book that actually spoke to the exact times we were living in daily. Having always respected John Piper, I was anxious to hear what such a man of God could offer as a salve to my soul, exhausted from keeping up with local and global news.
In part I of his book Piper discusses “the God who reigns over the Coronavirus.” Several of his initial thoughts caught my attention immediately. Piper shares that he is
“moved to write because playing the odds is a fragile place to put your hope…there is a better way. There is a better place to stand: a Rock of certainty rather than the sand of probabilities.”
A few paragraphs into the book, I was already thankful the Lord ensured a copy was placed into my hands. After months of checking government websites, investigating statistics, and researching the risk of death for my age, I was thankful for Piper’s redirection of my mind and soul back to the Rock, whose Truth is my greatest comfort.
Piper continues by suggesting that we are living through a historic moment of bitter providence, one of his descriptions of the coronavirus. There are seasons within this life, allowed by God, that simply have a bitter “taste” to them. During such times, Christians can find comfort in the words of 2 Corinthians 6:10 where Paul notes that servants of God are “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.” This is a challenge for the believer, but Piper contends that the secret is:
“knowing that the same sovereignty that could stop the coronavirus, yet doesn’t, is the very sovereignty that sustains the soul in it.”
The soul sustaining truths Piper encourages us to mediate on as one contemplates challenging life circumstances include:
1. God is our firm foundation.
It is He alone who provides “understanding beyond measure (Psalm 147:5)
2. God, our Rock, is Righteous.
If we cannot see God as righteous in the middle of a pandemic, then we have no Rock.
3. God is sovereign over all.
In the book of Job, we see that the Lord gave, and the Lord took away. Gratefully, every additional breath we take daily is a gift, every heartbeat is undeserved.
4. God’s sovereignty over the virus is a sweet teaching.
The Lord who sustains his children also sees that everything, the bitter and the sweet, will work together for those who love God and are called in Christ (Romans 8:28-30)
As believers, we know that the first words we should turn to in all things, but especially in a time of turmoil, is God’s Word. It is His words alone that can bring our soul the reassurance and comfort it seeks. Did Piper’s book bring me the scientific answers I often so desperately desired? No. But his writings reminded me this isn’t a time to live in fear, but to look expectantly at how the Lord could be and is using these times to fulfill his ultimate good.
“Christ has not shed his blood in vain.”
While there may be a time of suffering, He will ultimately “have the reward of his suffering.” And what is encompassed in that reward? Well, “even pandemics will serve to complete the Great Commission” … of reaching others with the love of Christ. Praise God for that!
My children are in their second full week back at school after five months at home. As the calendar crept closer to the start of school, I found my soul burdened by the opinions of what would be best for children and their education in the midst of the pandemic.
Yet, thanks to the time I have spent in God’s word and Piper’s encouragement through his book, I find myself surprisingly at peace with living in the tension of our imperfect world. I know each day is a privilege to wake and live my life on this earth.
My ongoing prayer is that I may model this peace for my children and that they know God’s Word provides these reassuring promises for the times when anxiety comes.
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