“Humble in the face of nature”
On 31st October 2020, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a second lockdown to try to slow the spread of coronavirus in England. Having looked at the statistics, he said, “…as we’ve also seen from those charts, we’ve got to be humble in the face of nature”.
Humility is a quality that we don’t hear about very much in the news. People in positions of power usually get there by being assertive, eloquent and persuasive, but humble? Probably not.
As far as we know, Mr Johnson was not talking about God. Nature is seen as powerful in itself, but many people are uncomfortable with the idea that God is actually in control of it.
The writer of Psalm 18 felt differently: “For you save a humble people, but the haughty eyes you bring down”. (v27 ESV). In fact, he saw God as “a shield for all those who take refuge in him” (v30).
This pandemic can seem very frightening, but God cares about His creation. The Bible mentions disease, famine and earthquakes as signs that the return of the Lord Jesus to the earth is getting nearer.
Nature itself doesn’t care whether or not we are humble, but God does. If we acknowledge His authority and trust in him, we need not fear. “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8 ESV).
We can’t fix this situation, but God can. Doesn’t that make these troubled times seem brighter?
Have you had to change any plans recently? That probably sounds like a stupid question in the light of Covid19! Businesses have had to stop trading, people have stopped travelling, diaries full of plans have been cancelled.
The book of James has some advice on planning ahead. We are given a scenario: Somebody has big plans for their future. They are going to travel to a town, spend a year there trading and make a big profit. They have their life mapped out for a whole year. Yet James 4:14 begins: "yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring" . It’s true – we don’t! James continues: "What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that”" (ESV). If the Lord wills… only God knows whether or not we will live to see another day.
God is eternal, so He can look forward in a way that we can’t. When God makes plans, they happen. Saying “Covid willing” is not a very accurate summing up of the situation. It is God who is able to make things happen, not Covid. “God willing” is a phrase that makes a lot more sense. We can rely on God to change the world in a way that is beyond the power of any human on this earth.
Another Covid Update!
I don’t know about you, but I get really confused about Covid advice! Every announcement seems to contradict the last one.
The truth is, nobody really knows how to deal with something that we have never seen before. The government and scientists are doing their best to make sense of a world that has changed beyond recognition.
Planning ahead? Forget it! If you travelled abroad recently, you may well have been at the sharp end of that problem… the situation really does change minute by minute.
How does that make you feel? Confused, insecure, maybe a bit scared?
But God knows exactly what is happening and what will happen next. He knew about all this long before the first person got sick. “I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done... “ (Isaiah 46:9–10 ESV)
Back in around 600BC, a man called Jeremiah was at rock bottom. He was in a besieged city, and he knew that soon it would be destroyed. God had told him to pass this information on to the rulers, but they saw him as a traitor and put him in jail. Yet God was able to assure him that although his nation would be taken captive, they would eventually come back and rebuild the city. “ I will rejoice in doing them good, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all my heart and all my soul. ... Just as I have brought all this great disaster upon this people, so I will bring upon them all the good that I promise them.” (Jeremiah 32:41-42 ESV)
Jeremiah did not live to see this happen, but he knew that God would not break His promise, and Jeremiah himself will see the ultimate fulfilment when the Lord Jesus Christ returns to this earth.
Death is not the end for people who trust in God – He will raise them to life in a world where these worries will no longer be a problem. That is what keeps me positive in these uncertain times.
Six months ago, had you heard of the term “social distancing”?
Yet now, even small children are aware of it in their day to day lives. Grandparents can’t visit any more, friends can’t drop in for a coffee, people can’t visit their loved ones in hospital.
These are things we never have imagined. Yet in the Bible Jesus told us to expect troubled times before his return to the earth, “people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world…” (Luke 21:26 ESV). He also said, “Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:28 ESV).
It's not easy to “raise our heads” when we are weighed down by anxiety. Yet we can trust that God is able to carry out His plan for the world which He created.
The virus has spread fear and uncertainty around the world. The Gospel message brings hope and life.