Dispatches from Palmer Street #9
Dear members and friends of St. Marcus,
I gotta tell you, this COVID business has lasted far longer than at first I thought it would. What a weird year! Our government leaders and health officials have to balance a concern for people’s health with a concern for their jobs as half the economy is shut down. We’re all groping through the darkness, trying to find the right way. I know I’m confused.
But where are you, Lord? I’ve been praying for deliverance from heaven, but still people are dying. I feel like the prophet Habakkuk: “How long, O Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen?” (chapter 1:2). What do you suppose God is up to?
Here’s what I think we all need right now:
Humility. The Creator, Ruler, and Savior of the world is not cold, feeble, or confused. “Be still and know that I am God,” says Psalm 46. “I will be exalted in the earth.” Our God has a plan, a heart, and unlimited power.
Repentance. It is we, the humans, who wrecked the earth. We just had to know what it would be like without God, and each generation of sinners has to learn how horrible that is. The world, like its people, is broken, and it won’t be healed until Christ returns.
Resignation. I don’t mean quitting. I mean letting it go, waiting for God to work his will. We are so used to human ingenuity and technology and piles of money getting us whatever we want. It is good for our arrogant spirits to realize that there are many things in our world that we simply cannot control and must just endure.
Awe at the fierce wrath of God as he brings judgment. Revelation 6 presents the metaphors of the riders of the four horses. The last was a pale (greenish) horse: “Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine, and plague.”
Trust. Romans 8:28 tells us that God will work all things together for our good. That includes coronavirus pandemics.
Confidence. As I am grumping that my prayers don’t seem to be answered, how do I know how much tamer the pandemic has been because of my prayers and those of millions of other Christians? What if the prayers of God’s people shrank the death toll from 900,000 in America to just 90,000? We never notice much of God’s work because he spares us from much worse evils, which we never see, and thus don’t think to thank.
Joyful anticipation. We would all like heaven on earth, but that won’t happen till Christ returns. But when he does, sickness, sorrow, and death will flee away. Hang on! Heaven really is worth the wait!
Pastor Mark Jeske