We are living in difficult times. Financial markets are in decline. Jobs are being lost. There is a fear permeating our culture unparalleled in recent history. Worse still, all this commotion is the result of a potentially deadly virus that has reached the level of a pandemic.
Have you tried buying toilet paper or bread recently? Every store in my part of the country has placed a cap on the number of these items a customer can purchase. In some cases, such items cannot be found at all. I’m not sure where you are spiritually, physically, or emotionally at this moment, but I’m certain you have been affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19). So, where do you turn in times of trouble?
My wife and I were reading Scripture this morning and came across a beautiful psalm that speaks into our situation more powerfully than any voice I’m hearing in the media. I encourage you to read Psalm 77. Seriously, go there now and check it out.
The psalm is a community lament. Such laments give voice to times and situations when God’s people feel increasingly burdened or low. Are you feeling burdened or low today? Do you know someone who is experiencing depression or anxiety because of COVID-19 and its consequences?
The author of the psalm posed a particular complaint, namely, he was concerned that God had forgotten to be merciful to His people (Psalm 77:4-9). He further mentioned how his spirit grew faint and how he couldn’t sleep at night. Have any of these sorrows been a reality for you recently? I have had a hard time sleeping lately. I’m not sure if my lack of rest has to do with the coronavirus or some other factor, but I can relate to the sentiments of the psalmist.
Remember the Deeds of the LORD
Notice how the first half of the psalm begins with “I” statements. The author, Asaph, is deeply distressed and begins his lament by focusing his attention inwardly, toward himself. In verses 10-12, however, something seems to switch in his perspective as he states, “To this I will appeal: the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand. I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.” After his realization, the “I” statements are abandoned as Asaph stops thinking about himself and starts worshiping God.
Where do you turn in times of trouble? Throughout the Old Testament, Israel was taught to remember the miracles of God in order to be encouraged and sustained during difficult times. In Psalm 77, Asaph shares beautiful language regarding God’s parting of the Red Sea in Exodus 14. He shares mighty acts of God such as miracles, displays of power, the redemption of his people, resounding thunder, and an earth that quaked and trembled. Surely if God can do all these things, he can overcome the darkest of times. God is bigger than the coronavirus.
God Can Deliver Us
God is not far away in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Even though things seem bleak, He is just as powerful today as He has always been. Furthermore, God is sovereign over the virus and its spread. Nothing surprises Him. He is not swayed by fear or overcome with anxiety.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, God can deliver us from our current trouble. The New Living Translation paints an encouraging picture about the Red Sea event:
“Your road led through the sea, your pathway through the mighty waters — a pathway no one knew was there! You led your people along that road like a flock of sheep, with Moses and Aaron as their shepherds” (Psalm 77:19-20).
During the parting of the Red Sea, God led his people through a “pathway” no one knew was there. I believe God can do the same today. There are pathways we know nothing about that God may use to bring us safely through the coronavirus pandemic. There is a giant force of fear hovering over us that God wants to separate and lovingly lead us through.
Furthermore, the verses above teach us that God led his people like a “flock of sheep.” We are his sheep. In the New Testament, Jesus is called our good shepherd (John 10). Jesus has already won the battle. The worst thing that can happen to us during this pandemic is suffering which leads to death. But, Jesus has overcome death. He suffered. He wept. We are promised eternal bliss because of the trouble he endured for us.
Do not turn to fear or hopelessness during this pandemic. Turn to our God who is mighty to save. The Bible says, “God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble” (Psalm 46:1 NLT).