By Ken Groen
These are dramatic days. Who would have thought just six months ago that we would be living through such a global crisis? An unseen enemy has literally brought the entire world to its knees. Billions of people are in isolation, millions of people infected with a viral illness, multiple thousands of lives lost, economies brought to a standstill, governments without clear answers, the medical community scrambling for solutions, and all of us are wondering, “What does this mean?” As I have thought and prayed and listened, these five things have come into focus:
1. The vulnerability of humankind.
When we thought we were in control and that there was a solution to every problem, we instead found ourselves feeling adrift without an anchor. This should humble us all. The Scripture reads, “God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6, NKJV). The most powerful governments of the world, the finest medical institutions, and the world’s greatest minds all are experiencing a common helplessness, a sobering vulnerability in the face of an enemy which is no respecter of persons. It reminds us to heed the words of Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”
2. The suddenness of global change.
We all have our routines and schedules and patterns of life. Without warning this has all been upended. No dining out, no haircuts, no sporting events (heaven forbid), no churches to attend – and NO TOILET PAPER. I am reminded of the word “suddenly” which appears over 70 times in Scripture. Isaiah 47:11 reads, “Therefore evil shall come upon you; you shall not know from where it arises. And trouble shall fall upon you; you will not be able to put it off. And desolation shall come upon you suddenly, which you shall not know.” It should remind us all that the Lord’s return, though delayed, will happen, and suddenly. “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed – in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52, NJKV).
3. The credibility of the Bible.
I have been a Christian for many years and have heard multiple sermons about the “end times,” about passages in Revelation and elsewhere that speak of worldwide disasters, unbelievable destruction, and pestilence and death. We don’t seem to hear these sermons often anymore, but they don’t seem so strange now, do they? In the face of the present pandemic, it would not be hard to imagine a world where millions and millions of people could be in mortal danger. Even today there is an unbelievable pestilence of locusts that is destroying the landscape of East Africa and with it the livelihood of millions. The Bible has been speaking of this for years, and now it doesn’t seem to be so farfetched. The Scriptures, my friends, are true!
4. The scarcity of real hope in the world.
If I spend all my time listening to the news media, I can quickly be overtaken by fear and hopelessness. What if . . . ? Could this really happen? A book called The Power of Bad by John Tierney addresses the “negativity effect” and how it can take over our lives. What an opportunity for Christians to convey hope to those around us. Our hope is anchored in the resurrection, the certainty of our salvation, and trust in a God who is in control of every detail of our lives.
5. The urgency of the Gospel.
I have had only two visions in my life, and one keeps coming back to me during these times. In this vision I saw a large conveyer belt of humanity, moving ever so slowly to an unseen abyss. On the conveyer belt there were all kinds of tranquil scenes: people were picnicking, hiking, playing games, and in general enjoying themselves. Little did they know that danger lay just ahead. The current pandemic reminds me that my neighbor next door, my friend without Christ, that unseen tribe or tongue in a far-flung place is on that conveyer belt headed toward a Christless eternity. Mark 13:32-33 tells us, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is.” We have the Good News, and it is URGENT that we share it NOW.
*Portions of the above thoughts were influenced by a recent sermon by Dr. David Jeremiah, Facing Uncertain Times: Is the Coronavirus in Bible Prophecy?
About the Author
Ken Groen is a retired Open Bible minister who pastored two churches, and served as Central Region Executive Director over a period of 40 years. He currently serves as a life coach for Central Region and adjunct faculty for Harvest Bible College in Des Moines, Iowa, where he resides with his wife of 53 years, Nadine.