When the first of our spring activities were canceled a few weeks ago, my husband and I discussed the possibility that a shelter-in-place order would be in effect. At that time, it seemed like we were talking about a dystopian novel rather than our lives. Before that day was over, everything my family had scheduled for spring had been canceled, local schools were closed, and even regular rhythms on our calendar, like worship with our church family, had been indefinitely suspended. The shelter-in-place order recently took effect for our county. All across America—all across the world—people are experiencing the same thing as COVID-19 spreads.
As I’ve been processing this time with my family, the word that keeps echoing through every conversation is change: rapid, unexpected, sweeping change. People are suddenly out of work. Kids and teachers have to adjust to online learning. Businesses and restaurants are closed. Even how we’re grocery shopping is different. But so much is also the same. In these tumultuous times, to comfort my heart, I keep coming back to three things that will not change.
1. We can trust God even in uncertain times.
Taking time to be in nature does me good. The children and I recently walked along a creek, following its bends and turns. The only sounds we could hear were the water babbling, toads croaking, and birds singing. They were accomplishing the job God had for them without a care about what was happening in the news. The same God who clothes them and put their songs in their throats is caring for us today. We don’t need to fear what news tomorrow will bring. Our God knows what is happening and what we need, and he will continue to provide for us.
I have found myself anxious just to know what would happen tomorrow, next week, and next month. If I only knew, then I could cope and plan. My desire to know is a desire for control. I’ve forgotten my limitations and that God alone is omniscient. We have a good God even when the world around us is filled with what’s bad. As the world around us seems to be unraveling, we have the promise of the cross. Our hope in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ is the only thing we can count on.
And this is the best news for us. This good news is for me, my children, my husband, and everyone else. We all already know that this world is full of pains and troubles. But there is hope, even in death, for those who are in Christ. We don’t need to be anxious about tomorrow. The Creator of the universe is in control, so we can rest in peace and put aside all anxiety.
2. Jesus is the security plan.
If you had asked me three weeks ago if I was trusting God, I would have said an emphatic yes. But this past week revealed that I was actually trusting in all sorts of other safety nets, and those have all proven to be not so safe after all.
We don’t need to fear what news tomorrow will bring. Our God knows what is happening and what we need, and he will continue to provide for us.
As I’ve been wrestling with the emotions and thoughts that keep popping up, my theology is reminding me of where my hope is. My hope isn’t in ease while grocery shopping or in fat investment accounts. I have no eternal security in jobs or even in our good health. There is no promise of businesses opening tomorrow or even next month. But I am promised that for those who love God, all things work together for good. Even in hard times, he is working in me to conform me to the image of his son. He has been kind to reveal sin in me that I need to turn from. He has shown me his lovingkindness and grown my affection for him. He has taught me more about who he is. My hope in him is secure.
God provided us with the perfect security plan when he sent his Son to die for us. We needed to be rescued from our sins, and he accomplished that in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. That’s the only security plan we need and the only one we can trust.
3. God’s love will endure.
All four of my children were belly laughing as we fed goats while out on a walk the other day. As my heart swelled with joy, I recognized that I was experiencing a moment that I want to remember forever. For a fleeting minute, I wished I could freeze my children in that happy place and keep them from the brokenness of this world. When I read the daily headlines about this global pandemic, I find myself scared for my family. Will we get sick? Will we have to tell the children that someone we love has died? Will we lose our income?
We can plan all we want, but only the Lord’s will comes to fruition. We can rest in that because God loves us so much more than we can even understand. His love is an enduring, never-changing, without failure, perfect love. We are not promised protection, but we have been promised that nothing—”death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation” (Rom. 8:38-39)—will separate us from the love of God in Christ.
No one but God knows how quickly the spread of COVID-19 will end or what other changes we will have to make. We must turn to him, our refuge and strength, because everything else is apt to change. He has always been and will always be the same. And so I say, “Lord, I believe! Help me in my unbelief!”