While drinking coffee this morning, we watched the dark nighttime sky fade into a gray morning. No golden rays pierced this grayness – only overcast clouds bring in another day.
Later, in the media we heard the question asked, “How many have died today from coronavirus?” A concluding forecast of doom predicted greater numbers of death around the world. Do we feel we are living in dark times?
The COVID -19 has become the unseen enemy of impending death and loss. We face “Fear and Anxiety” birthed from the family of “Circumstances and Choice.” We wonder if sickness and death are possibilities for our loved ones and ourselves. We struggle over loss of income and jobs, supplies and food, and things we enjoy in life – shopping, sports, and entertainment, social and family relationships. Frustration and anger overcome us.
The truth is that over 2000 years ago, circumstances and evil choices came together to bring a new and frightening reality into that time and space.
Dr. Luke, a Gentile doctor converted to Christianity, writes a factual account of the death of Jesus Christ – the one called Messiah! At the time of Jewish Passover, Jesus was executed on a Roman cross and his body laid into a tomb of a friend. Many religious leaders celebrated Jesus’s death – glad that this “trouble maker” of the Jewish faith was eliminated.
Days later, several women went to grieve their loss by visiting Jesus’s tomb and met two men (angels) who spoke to them. “ 5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ 8 Then they remembered his words” (Luke 24:5-8).
Confused, they looked inside the open tomb and did not find Jesus’ body. It was physically gone. Amazed and excited, they remembered and believed His words. What amazing joy and hope they must have felt!
On April 12th, we celebrate Resurrection Sunday of 2020. Like these disciples, we too must look into the face of our fear and anxiety and remember Jesus’s words.
The rest of this story (Luke 24:17-32) reveals an important truth. A few men were walking out of Jerusalem on the Emmaus Road recounting the horrible events of Jesus’s crucifixion. They were afraid and anxious. As they shared the terrifying and bloody events of the cross, Jesus walked up to them and listened to their remarks as they walked together.
“17 And he said to them, ‘What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?’ 16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And they stood still, looking sad. 18 Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, ‘Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?’ 19 And he said to them, ‘What things?’”
“What things?” Could our LORD be asking us that same question? “What things” are making you anxious and afraid? What is happening today that is making you sad and worried?
We can understand the serious dangers of the coronavirus. With no immunity, no vaccine, and limited available medical treatment, we can try to comply with washing our hands, physical distancing, and quarantine orders. But at times, do we feel strangely alone and fearful, believing that perhaps our world is spinning out of control? Gone are the realities of our daily lives that we thought were important to us like church, work, school, friends, and family – the good stuff in our lives.
Like the men on the Emmaus Road, Jesus walks beside us in this present time. We need to listen to His words through the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians: “The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus“(4:5b-7).
Does God really expect us not to be anxious or afraid of anything? Can we truly believe Him, as Christ Followers, with faith and hope in Him rather than trusting our bank accounts, the stock market, science and medicine or even dead deities of other world religions? Can we remember from our past, a time when Jesus comforted and reassured us He would never leave us alone or forgotten?
Pastor David Jeremiah, while going through severe health issues, writes, “We serve a living Savior, not a dead one. When your fear or anxiety level is high, let the presence of the resurrected Jesus give you peace” (Ever Faithful), 91).
Is it not strange that Resurrection Sunday was set in the middle of our calendar during the coronavirus pandemic? What a powerful reminder that Jesus Christ is with us and is alive!
When celebrating Christ’s Resurrection Sunday in the shelter of our homes or facilities, we truly can be joyful reading God’s words and singing songs of praise to Him. Joining others through technology, we can “choose” to rejoice and celebrate “Jesus!” God remains at the helm of our world, and He will never miss or fumble a step…He is our LORD! Praise God!
Finally these words of hope are found in Dr. Luke’s gospel (24:51-52), “51 While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. 52 Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy.”
REMEMBER THIS PROMISE from Jesus in John 16:33, “33 I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Oswald Chambers says, “An average view of the Christian life is that it means deliverance from trouble. It is deliverance in trouble, which is very different” (My Utmost For His Highest, 215).
We thank God for you and pray that He hold you closely in His arms,
Ron and Beth Wells, Centrepoint Ministries