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The outbreak of the pandemic COVID-19 has sent tremors all across the world. Yes, knowing the contagious and catastrophic nature of the virus, we must be concerned about its impact. However, this crisis need not cause God's redeemed people to be overcome by panic and despair. We may experience fear, but we must not be conquered by it, thereby living in a state of anxiety and insecurity.
A Wise Man
At the end of His Sermon on the Mount, the Lord Jesus delivered heart-searching words. He said that anyone who listens to His words and puts them into practice will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. When the floods and winds come against the house, it doesn't fall because it is built on the rock. But when these disasters rage against a foolish man's house, it collapses because he built his house on the sand. (Matt. 7:24-27; Lk. 6:46-49)
So what’s the point of our Lord Jesus?
If we keep listening to God’s word but do not put it into practice, we will collapse when life’s storms come upon us. Head-knowledge without heart-obedience cannot stand firm during a crisis. Instead, we reflect the condition of a foolish man. But if we keep hearing and obeying God's Word, we will live a steadfast and unshakable life amidst the storms of life. That’s the disposition of a wise man.
A Testing Time
The storm doesn’t make the foundation weak but reveals how weak or strong the foundation is. So also, the invasion of coronavirus doesn’t make the heart weak, but exposes the true condition of our hearts. It is a time for testing God's people’s obedience and genuine knowledge.
In their book How People Change, Timothy Lane and Paul David Tripp show us the humble truth: "Trials do not cause us to be what we have not been; rather, they reveal what we have been all along. The harvest the trial produces is the result of the roots already in our hearts."1
So what does the COVID-19 pandemic disclose to us about how much we know God? What does it manifest to us about our obedience to God’s word, which we have been reading and listening to? What does it reveal to us about our faith in God's authority and sovereignty? What does it show us about our gratitude to God in this affliction?
Moreover, are we experiencing the comfort of God at this scary time? Are we resting in God’s caring arms? Are we experiencing the peace of God that transcends all understanding? Are we offering unceasing prayers for God's kind help? And if God calls us home, are we assured of our eternal life through Christ's death and resurrection?
A Wake-up Call
By now, COVID-19 must have shown to us: how much intimacy we lack with God, how weak our faith is in God, how much we ignore practising God’s word, how much we lack eternal perspective, and how distant we are from experiencing God in real situations! Do we realize the great chasm between head and heart?
We must know that superficial devotion, flimsy faith, and trivial knowledge cannot stand testing times. Fear is real. Suffering is painful. Death is terrifying. Unless we know God (not merely know about Him) who is sovereign over all, glorious in His majesty, mighty in His power, and faithful to His promises—we cannot withstand the storm of coronavirus.
It is time for us to wake up to our necessity to abide daily in God, seek His face continually, confess our sins, grow in our trust in Him, find comfort in His Word, and practice encouraging one another as Christ’s blood-bought community. God might be using coronavirus to call us to know Him intimately and walk with Him obediently.
A Call To Introspection
Finally, contextualizing the Lord Jesus' words spoken at the end of the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 7:24-27), let me put it this way:
Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. When coronavirus comes closer to his doors or rages against his life, he is steadfast and unshaken because he built his house on the rock (knowledge with obedience).
But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. When coronavirus comes closer to his doors or rages against his life, he is shaken by fear and collapses in despair because he built his house on the sand (head-knowledge without obedience).
What does the pandemic COVID-19 reveal about the condition of our hearts? Let’s introspect our hearts and commit ourselves to live a God-conscious, Christ-centered, gospel-driven, Bible-saturated, and Spirit-filled community life.
1 Lane, Timothy S., Tripp, Paul David, How People Change, Greensboro, N.C, New Growth Press, 2008.