For most of us our world has changed in 2020. Our world has been drastically altered by the COVID-19 pandemic. We are washing our hands and using sanitizer more. We are social distancing and wearing face masks as we try to not get too close to one another. Many of us have stockpiled food, water, and even toilet paper. We are weary of the nightly reports of stay-at-home extensions, new cases, death counts, and growing unemployment. Most Americans believe that it will be a long time before things return to normal, and social media chirps constantly about the new norm. As we begin the re-opening process, it appears the response to this deadly disease has left us with more questions than answers.
The pandemic has ground our economy to a halt, but it has not slowed the famine in Sub-Saharan Africa that has left millions starving. It has not ended the Iranian – U.S. tensions that witnessed another close encounter in the Persian Gulf this week. According to the United Nations Refugee Agency it has not decelerated the number of displaced people across our globe. Nor has it curbed the active early tornado season that spawned over 100 twisters and left 73 people dead.
I do not claim to be an expert, but I think that I can accurately proclaim, life can be a dangerous venture. The journey of life often passes through dark valleys. Valleys that can leave us anxious, frightened, and insecure. And many ponder “What if it all gets worse?”
As I read the Bible, I am thankful that God is honest with us. Jesus shared with His disciples and reminds us that difficult days will come. He tells us in the Gospel of Matthew that there will be wars and rumors of wars, famines, pandemics, and natural disasters. He predicts His church will be persecuted, people will turn on each other and spew hatred against their neighbor, false prophets will appear, and wickedness will increase. Jesus shares that things are going to get worse before they get better.
Yet do not miss an important word that Jesus shares with His followers right in the middle of this calamity-filled proclamation. Jesus shares this key directive in Matthew 24:6 as he teaches about the coming tribulation, “See that you are not alarmed.” This word “alarm” in the ancient language means “to wail, to cry out in despair, to be hysterical.” Jesus counsels us when bad stuff comes, do not panic, or fall apart. And He tells us why with His next words in this passage of Scripture, “because these things must take place.”
Must is a vital word in this passage because it asserts that all events, everything that takes place in this world, from the mundane to the chaotic are part of God’s plan. God uses all things to accomplish His purposes and plans. When the world seems to be careening out of control, be reminded that God is still on His throne, and our Lord has promised that He will never leave nor forsake us. He declares to us that trials and tribulations will come in this world and they are very real, but do not let these present troubles blind you to the fact that a better world is coming. Jesus has formulated the predictive model for our world’s pandemic, and He has established a treatment plan that will cure all that is wrong in our present age.
If you have placed your faith in Christ, it will all work out in the end, and by His grace, He will get you through today and tomorrow. And by the way, if this world is a chaotic mess, be assured it is not yet the end.