Q. In uncertain times like this, what is the first thing we as Christians should remember?
The very first thing to remember in unsettled times like this is that God is in control. God is sovereign over all things, and He is sovereign in this particular circumstance. He is the God of galaxies and He is the God of germs. And He is the God of governments.
His sovereign authority is both extensive and intensive. We sometimes think of His authority as being kind of a “big picture” authority, and are happy with the image of Him looking down on the galaxies. But Jesus teaches us to push our understanding of His sovereign authority into all the tiny places. God is the one who numbers the hairs on your head, and most of us would consider that an irrelevant or trivial bit of information. A sparrow cannot fall to the ground apart from the will of the Father (Matt. 10:29). Jesus applies this with a very clear fear not because we are worth more to Him than many sparrows (Matt. 10:31).
But suppose for a moment that this divine control over all things were not the case. Then we would really have something to worry about, right? When bad things happened to us, and we were trying to make sense out of it all, one of the possible explanations would have to be that we had simply gotten caught in the machinery. Either the bad things that happen to us have a purpose and meaning, or they don’t. If they do have purpose and meaning, then that meaning must come from God.
Like a man walking a tightrope, there are two great hazards that confront us in this—meaning we could fall off to the left, or fall off to the right. The left would be the prospect of catching the coronavirus and having a hard time with it. The right would be for government officials to make panicked decisions that threaten to wreck your livelihood. But remember that all such things are in the hands of a sovereign God.
The God who numbers the hairs on your head is also the God who knows how many times a virus spins when it is coughed into the air, and how long it will float there. And if God can turn the king’s heart in any direction He wishes (Prov. 21:1), then He can certainly do it even if the room is filled with panicked advisors.
The virus is a natural evil and panic is a moral evil, but God is one who can direct all things, even evil things, into an outcome of blessing for His people. Remember how He turned the devil’s malice and the treachery of Judas into the salvation of the world (Acts 4:26-28)? Remember that?
All things really do work together for good for those who love God and who are called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28). And that all things includes the time of COVID-19 and the time of COVID panic. All things.