“It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes” (Ps. 119:71, NKJV).
If we really believe Scripture, then we have to conclude from this verse… that the affliction we are suffering right now is good for us. Before I get into that idea, though, I want to lay down some foundational truth. God did not send COVID-19.
Any storm that Jesus encountered, He rebuked and calmed. Wherever He encountered brokenness, He healed it. He imparted rich vitality everywhere He went. In Him, we see the exact representation of the Father. Observing Jesus’ life, we get to look at the invisible God. We get to find out what is in His heart.
This question, posed by Jesus, truly cuts to the heart of the matter at hand: “I ask you, is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?” (Luke 6:9, ESV). This same question applies, not just on Saturdays, but on every day of our lives. Is it God’s heart to do good, or to do harm?
No one answered Jesus the day He asked that question. No verbal response was necessary because the answer was implicit in the question. God’s nature is not to destroy life, but to save it.
Let’s consider another New Testament example. James and John were angry with the Samaritan town that rejected Jesus. They asked Him, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” Jesus looked them in the eyes and replied fervently, “The Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them” (Luke 9:54,56; NKJV). We see, then, that even when we humans reject Jesus, His heart still burns with passion to restore us to life.
Our Savior once again expressed this vitally important truth in these words: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10, ESV). That makes it pretty clear. Destruction is from the devil; salvation and abundant life are from Jesus. By this measuring device, how obvious it is who is behind the coronavirus!
How, then, can we conclude that our present afflictions are good for us, if God didn’t send them? This is where Romans 8:28 comes into play. “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God” (NLT).
The Father is so magnificently wise, so immeasurably powerful, and so infinitely loving, that He has integrated every single one of the devil’s moves into His plan for redemption. Even COVID-19. The Ruler of the Universe worked it all out flawlessly before He even began to create the world. What the adversary meant for destruction, the Lord of all flips back on his head and uses for our good.
What kind of good, then? I have come to understand that right now, Daddy God is laying an unbreakable foundation for the rest of our lives. Let’s chew on this parable together for a moment:
“He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock. But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell” (Luke 6:48-49, NKJV).
This story, and this season, are asking you and me this probing question: How is your house doing during this violent storm?
What COVID is doing for us, is showing us what we have built our lives upon. It’s reorganizing us. It’s allowing what needed to be shaken, to be shaken… that what cannot be shaken would remain. Any false props on which we relied are being dismantled and blown away by these winds. Yes, this is sometimes painful. Jesus deeply, achingly cares about how painful can be. He holds us and weeps with us through the dark nights when they come.
He knows, though…
… that joy is coming. Joy comes in the morning. Inexpressible joy. For rebuilding has already begun. Right now, we are learning to build our lives on that which is eternal.
Through what the enemy intended for our harm, our beautiful Redeemer is making our lives unshakable.
“This… indicates the removal of things that are shaken… in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire” (Heb 12:27-29, ESV).
How do you see Romans 8:28 coming into play for you during this season?