12 Apr Put Your Hope Not In The End Of The Pandemic, But In The Risen Lord!
This year, we have a very unusual Easter Sunday, where believers are unable to meet physically to commemorate this special Christian event. This is because of a mysterious little virus that is spreading throughout the world. People’s lives are turned upside down, anxiety fills the air, the healthcare system and the economy are under tremendous strain; life is simply not the same anymore.
Humans often look forward to the end of problems.
1) Problems will not be absent in this sinful, fallen world.
When the global concern is on COVID-19 right now, the common hope that everyone has now is that this pandemic will pass soon and life can return back to normal. However, to stop at that wish is merely being simplistic. For after COVID-19 passes, another new problem may arise. It could be coronavirus today, but mental struggles tomorrow, or retrenchment, or difficult children, or strained relationships, etc. To only hope for the end of problems is to set ourselves up for disappointment. Problems will not be absent in this sinful, fallen world. For even Jesus told His believers that in this world, they will face trouble <Jn 16:33>.
2) Yet, God can even use problems for His purpose.
However, in that same verse, Jesus also mentioned that we can have peace for He has overcome the world. That is to say, even if trouble comes, God can use that problem for His purpose; He will lord over that problem instead of having that problem enslave His people. Therefore, if God allows the pandemic to happen, it also means there are lessons which He wants us to learn through it. If that is the case, then when God allows this pandemic to pass, His intention will not simply be for us to go back to “life as per normal”. There must be re-ignited seriousness to live for His kingdom, and we need to involve Him deeper in every aspect and moment of our lives, and re-calibrate our hearts to cherish Him as the greatest love of our lives.
The pandemic compels us to grapple with the reality of death.
1) As much as death is a repulsive topic, it is as real as ever.
<Heb 9:27> “…people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.” Now, truth brings us wisdom. Ignoring the truth does not mean that the truth will not catch up with us. Nobody likes to think about death, and we would like to imagine that life can go on as we like for as long as possible. Particularly, having lived in such a secure and comfortable environment like in Singapore, we may have forgotten just how fragile humans are, how life is really beyond our control and how death is a reality for everyone and anyone.
2) Human self-sufficiency is a delusion.
Yet, God uses one small virus to make us wake up to our delusion of human self-sufficiency. Despite the advancement of human medical science and technology, there is still so much we do not know and cannot control. The coronavirus attacks the rich, the famous, even those holding high political powers. Money, fame and human power cannot save us. The pandemic just reminds us that humans are supposed to be dependent, rather than independent of God. The world tells us that it is a blessing to be independent and self-sufficient, but the truth tells us that humans cannot possibly be self-sufficient nor can we save ourselves. Instead, the gospel tells us that it is a blessing to have someone so trustworthy like God to depend upon.
3) Jesus Christ conquered death!
In sharp contrast to humans’ lack of defense against death, Jesus Christ conquered death! As Christians celebrate Easter in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is fitting that we are reminded of both our human mortality, as well as, Christ’s victory over death. Humans are vulnerable but God is invincible.
We should put our hope not in the end of the pandemic, but in our Risen Lord!
1) In fact, our problem ends not with the pandemic, but with reconciliation with God.
This is what Jesus made possible by His death and resurrection, which we are celebrating this Easter. Now, death is not only brought about by coronavirus. But more fatal than the virus is the consequences of sin. A virus can at most take away a person’s earthly life, but if the problem of human sin remains unresolved, the person will not just lose his physical body, but his soul will also perish eternally. Therefore, if a person does not receive the forgiveness of his sin, then he is truly without hope. The Bible tells us, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” <Ro 6:23> If the thought of being infected with coronavirus scares us, then shouldn’t humans be many times more shaken by the thought of having to suffer eternally being apart from God? Yet, we thank God that through Jesus, we have hope. <Heb 9:28> “so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.” If we can be reconciled to God through faith in Jesus Christ, then we can have hope in whatever problems that may come our way. For if we already have eternal security, how would we be bothered too much by transient things of this life?
2) Besides, if Jesus can conquer even death, what other problems would be too hard for Him to handle?
<Ro 8:32> He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
<Jn 16:33> “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Yes, death exists and even Jesus got to face death as well, but death does not have the last word, Christ’s resurrection does. While God allowed death to come upon His one and only Son, that does not mean that God is weak. But God has a purpose, and that purpose is to save us through the sacrificial death of Jesus. Now, if Jesus can conquer death, He surely also can overcome any other problems we may face in life, including the current pandemic. In fact, if we talk about problems without resurrection, then there is truly no hope. However, even death cannot cancel the power of God, but God’s power cancels out death.
Therefore, let us put our trust and hope in this risen Lord Jesus who conquered humans’ worst enemy – death, and He too can give His believers eternal life and sufficient grace to deal with every good or bad encounter on earth.