Our Hope in the Midst of the Virus

“The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness;
He will quiet you by his love;
He will exult over you with loud singing.”
—Zephaniah 3:17

This is a difficult time for many of us. Yet in the LORD we find comfort that transcends our earthly struggles. What hope do we have in the midst of this time of difficulty?

Zephaniah recounts for us a lot of really difficult things. Zephaniah is not a lighthearted read. It is heavy. If Zephaniah was a painter, he wouldn’t have used pastel colors. Instead, the canvas would be filled mainly with black and red.

Yet, there would be a glimmer of light, a glimmer of hope in the darkness. What hope is that and who is it for?

Hope is ultimately for those who hope not in themselves and their own ability. It is for “a people humble and lowly” (Zeph. 3:12). Yes, “blessed are the poor in spirit” (Matt. 5:3); those who know their utter need for a Savior. It is “they [that] shall seek refuge in the name of the Lord” (v. 12).[1]

Friends, the reality is in life there are times of difficulty, the Bible does not shy away from that reality. But, thank God, it doesn’t leave us there to wallow in despair.

So, what hope, what glimmer of light, does Zephaniah point out to us?

Our Hope

Zephaniah tells us the LORD—Yahweh!—our God is with us. You may feel alone but in the midst of what you are going through Scripture tells us the LORD is in our midst. And our LORD is “a mighty one who will save” (v. 17).

In fact, He has saved. The truth is, we don’t know what might happen as a result of COVID-19. We do know, however, that Jesus has provided salvation. Thankfully we do not have our help or hope ultimately in any earthly solution. Our hope is not in money, the government, or some medical breakthrough. But “we trust in the name of the LORD our God” (Ps. 20:7). Yes, our “help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth” (Ps. 121:2)!

Friends, salvation belongs to the LORD (see Ps. 37:39; 62:7; Is. 43:11; 45:21; Jer. 3:23; Hosea 13:4; Jonah 2:9; Rev. 7:10; 19:1). And Jesus is the one who brings salvation. Jesus provides hope that transcends economic distress and even death. Through Jesus we are more than conquerors—even if we’re conquered and killed by persecution or pestilence—because nothing in all creation “will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:39).  

Friends, “there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). So even while we may have concerns about the coronavirus we can rejoice that our biggest concern, our condemnation, has been taken care of! Friends, through Jesus Christ we learn that not only is there no condemnation now through Jesus Christ, we learn that we are sons and daughters and heirs along with Jesus. We are heirs of God!

Now, through Jesus, the LORD God rejoices over us with gladness (Zeph. 3:17)! In Christ, we not only have our sins taken away, but we have positive righteousness given to us! And so as God the Father rejoices over Jesus His perfect Son, He rejoices over us with gladness. He even exults over us with loud singing (v. 17)!

It is truly amazing that the LORD God, the Creator and sustainer of the cosmos, rejoices over us. I am dumbfounded by that truth. And I’m also comforted by that truth. Like an infant in his mother’s arms, I’m quieted and calmed by the LORD’s love for me (v. 17). And I hope you are too.

So, even as we might be in distress, let’s seek to rest our wearied and worried heads in the mighty arms of our loving Lord. And let’s even seek to “sing aloud,” “rejoice and exult with all [our] heart” (v. 14) because the “Lord has taken away the judgments against [us]” (v. 15). And let’s remember, “The King of Israel, the Lord, is in [our] midst” so we should “never again fear evil” (v. 15).

Even in the midst of the coronavirus, we have hope because the LORD is in our midst and He Himself has provided salvation that no virus can touch. 

______

[1] Notice that the Lord is not a Savior of all people. He, as it says in Psalm 17:7, is a “Savior of those who seek refuge.” It is only those who are humble and know their need for a Savior that seek refuge. Psalm 18:27 simiarly says, “you save a humble people, but the haughty eyes you bring down.” 

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About Paul O'Brien

I am a lot of things; saint and sinner. I struggle and I strive. I am a husband and father of three. I have been in pastoral ministry for 10 years. I went to school at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary but most of my schooling has been at the School of Hard Knocks. I have worked various jobs, including pheasant farmer, toilet maker, construction worker, and I served in the military. My wife and I enjoy reading at coffee shops, taking walks, hanging out with friends and family, and watching our three kid's antics. :)

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