What if…? I’m guessing that those two words, and the many varying scenarios that follow, have been asked millions of times by the people of our country these past couple of weeks! I have found myself asking this question in my mind over and over, and early this morning, I was laying awake contemplating all the possible decisions that may have to be made regarding the Church that I pastor, and how those decisions and many others may affect the people that I love and care about.
Not even necessarily thinking about spiritual aspects of this pandemic of Covid-19 (the Corona Virus), I was kind of startled by a passage of Scripture that came to my mind! I had been blessed by hearing a great message that a dear friend of mine had sent to me yesterday, and the passage that came to my mind was from that message. It was the last two verses of a great Psalm; Psalm 46 begins with the words, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble.” The rest of the Psalm is a reminder of all that God is in control of, and that He is our source of help and hope! But the last two verses are the ones that kept coming to my mind as I lay awake: “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”
As is often the case, God awakens me in the night with messages, or sermons, or just random thoughts; I’ve come to believe that He has to do it that way, because that’s the only time my heart and mind are quiet enough to listen! So, when these verses came to my sleepy awareness, I was instantly jolted into a reality that God wanted me to know something important. Oh, I know that I have shared with my Congregation that He is in control, and that nothing that is happening in our country or around the world has taken Him by surprise! I also know that God is not the source of disease or pestilence, but rather as the result of sin in the world and its desire to steal, kill, and destroy, diseases and pestilences come! In fact, the Bible very clearly states that as time draws toward the return of Jesus, and the eventual elimination of sin from the world, these things WILL happen! Now, I’m not by any means saying that this is the beginning of the end; that’s only known to God! But I am saying that I have to wonder, “What if…?”
But, back to my 3:30am experience; as these verses continually repeated over and over in my mind, for some really strange reason, I began to think about how really big events are played out. Years ago, I participated in Community Theater events, a couple in which I had a Lead Role; I’ve been to Broadway in New York City on several occasions; attended Broadway shows in Denver and Dallas; and I can honestly say that those productions that I was privileged to attend were some of the highlights of my life! I remember one in particular, “The Phantom of the Opera,” as it moved toward its dramatic conclusion, I found myself hardly breathing! I was so caught up in the movement, the music, the acting, the story that I was captivated to the point of my breath being taken away! Now, I shared all of that to say this: each production, the ones in which I’ve performed, and those which I have had the opportunity to see the world’s best actors, musicians, and set builders—the focus of the entire production is built around the Overture! It’s the music that sets the story! You hear it at the beginning; the Orchestra plays bits and pieces of it throughout the show, and then, at the very end, the Orchestra, the Actors, and the Chorus bring the production to an end with the loudest, most boisterous rendition of the Final Overture!
So, “What if…?” What if God, in what would be His greatest “act” of mercy in all of history, took what the enemy has meant for evil in bringing this virus to our world and the overwhelming panic that has been the response to it, and turned it for His good, in what could possibly be the Final Overture to the history of mankind? Hear those words of v. 10 again: “Be still, and know that I am God.” How long has it been since any of us have really been “still”? I really believe that I don’t even know the type of “still” that God is referring to in this verse! Our world has become so busy and occupied! Activity; coming and going, doing and being, watching and waiting—the list goes on and on! We aren’t good at being “still!” So, as the result of the Corona Virus, and the resulting panic that has come from it, we now are seeing public meetings being cancelled; restaurants closing; theaters closing; events being cancelled; sports leagues and teams cancelling their seasons; and businesses and offices sending their employees home to do their work by means of technology! Malls are empty; grocery shelves are bare; the Stock Market is spiraling downward; the economy is on the verge of recession; and people here in America are panicked! If the trend continues, we may even be on the verge of a national curfew, which would result in people isolating themselves behind the four walls of their home!
What in the world will we do if all of this comes to pass? We may just have to “Be still…”; nothing but reruns on the TV; no need to share over Social Media the meal that you had for lunch; no going out to eat (except maybe a drive-thru!); all the toilet paper you need stacked neatly in a cupboard underneath your bathroom sink; what will we do! We, who are accustomed to so much going on, just may have to “Be still…!” Perhaps God is coordinating all of this in such a way that we will by necessity have to “Be still…!”—and over the course of “being still,” we get to know who God really is! How? By seeing Him at work! Have you considered that God might be saying, “I’ve told you to ‘be still, and know that I am God’, but there’s so much going on that distracts you from that pursuit, that I’m going to take what the enemy has meant to destroy [the Corona Virus], and bring everything to a screeching halt, so that you will have an opportunity to really be still, and know that I am God!”
What an act of mercy on God’s part! He loves people so much that He just intervenes in the activity of this world, and says, “I’m gonna give them an opportunity to know what “being still” really looks like, and in doing that, I’m gonna reveal once again to the world who I really am, and in doing so, you will see Me work in ways that you could have never imagined! The result will be that you will know that I am with you! The Lord of angel armies is with you, and that I, the God of Jacob, will be your fortress during this time!” It’s an unprecedented act of God’s mercy upon an evil, sinful, diseased world that is in need of the saving grace of Jesus! Who knows if perhaps it may be His final attempt to get the world’s attention? If so, what an act of mercy and grace! What a Final Overture!
I’m praying that God will miraculously bring an end to this pandemic, and in doing so, that there will be no doubt whatsoever to anyone in the world, the Source of their healing and deliverance! I want to be a part of giving Him the glory, the honor, and the praise He is worthy of, and I want the entire world, and particularly, our great United States of America to see for the first time in a while, who God really is!
“What if…?” What if this is God intervening with this great act of mercy? How will we respond? My hope is that in the midst of this panic, that the people of God, the Church, will take the lead in acts of kindness and love! My hope is that a sense of calm, knowing that God really IS in control, and that He IS our source of help and hope for this time of trouble, will be the message that the Church sends to those who are asking, “What if…?” There are so many potential outcomes to the dilemmas that we are now dealing with, and my fervent hope and prayer is that people will come to know God, and that we will see a revival of faith in God as we have never witnessed before!