We are in a time of great uncertainty. The COVID-19 pandemic is moving through the world and the realization that we are not as in control of our lives and circumstances as we previously thought has many of us feeling afraid. It is during times like this that I am led to refocus on what I think is the most neglected aspect of the good new of Jesus, His ascension.
The primary message of Jesus was for humanity to repent because the kingdom of heaven was coming. This was His way of saying things were changing and God was going to begin establishing His manifest rule on earth. Jesus secured this through His crucifixion as a payment for our sins and His resurrection; overcoming death. Post resurrection, He spent 40 days continuing to teach His disciples. Near the end of these 40 days He met with the Disciples on a mountain top. He told them that all authority in heaven and on earth had been given to Him. Later, He went back to heaven to sit on the throne, where He is right now, ruling and reigning over all creation.
The current rule and reign of Jesus gives me comfort during times like these. However, one may ask if He is ruling why do things like COVID-19 happen? For those who reject the gospel, Christians may not be able to provide an answer that will satisfy, but we can try. God created everything good. Adam and Eve rejected God and allowed Satan to take control of God’s good creation. Jesus came to take control back and while He has accomplished this, we are in an in between time where His rule is not fully manifested. Bad things still happen. Christians can face those bad things with confidence because we know that Jesus will use them to bring about good and ultimately, He will return and fully establish His righteous reign. This is the hope of the Christian. We live in a broken world, but one day everything will be made right, therefore we live in hope not fear.
In the days ahead this prayer from the BCP may provide comfort. It has been prayed by the church for hundreds of years through various trying times.
Increase, O God, the spirit of neighborliness among us, that in peril we may uphold one another, in suffering tend to one another, and in homelessness, loneliness, or exile befriend one another. Grant us brave and enduring hearts that we may strengthen one another, until the disciplines and testing of these days are ended, and you again give peace in our time; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (BCP, Pg. 659)
As we consider the words from Patrick and pray for our communities, countries, and all those affected by this coronavirus, please lift these specific requests for our areas of ministry to the Lord:
- For the people in our communities who are especially vulnerable to the spread of this virus because of lack of resources, close proximity, and inadequate medical care and hygiene. Many families include multiple generations, so the elderly are very exposed to children and other young people. In Brazil, winter is beginning soon, so the virus may spread more rapidly.
- For our workers, the church-planters and their families, as they are at risk serving these communities
- For the continued work of the Gospel to transform lives even in the midst of these uncertain times.