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Statistics and Comfort in Calamity

Photo by Ben White 

Does the 2% death rate statistic comfort you? What does the Bible say about comfort during calamity? 

Some sources are saying that the mortality rate of COVID-19 looks to be 2%. However, it is too early to say. The percentage will be bigger or smaller depending on various factors (such as the age of the people infected, access to the needed medical treatment, etc.). I think we should acknowledge a few things about the statistic. First, 2% looks like a small number. And it is. At least, relative to a larger number. 

Second, to put it into perspective, 2% of the population of the world is around 140 million people. That, as we can see, is a lot of people. COVID-19 could rival the AIDS epidemic. Of course, it seems highly unlikely that everyone in the world will get the virus. But even a fraction of that number is a lot of people. And it’s important for us to see the numbers from this vantage point so that we don’t play the numbers down.

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The Resurrection and Our Hope No Matter What

What is the correct response to the coronavirus? Should we have fear or faith?

Well, the answer to that question depends on where you’re coming from and your understanding of this world…

The Bible teaches Christians that through Christ, no matter what we face, we can have faith. We can have hope.

Reflecting on the resurrection of Jesus helps us have faith. It helps us see that we have a solid, untouchable hope.

In Acts chapter 2, Peter refers to Psalm 16 which is a Psalm that king David wrote. Psalm 16:27 says, “For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption.” In Peter’s message he said: Friends, I can confidently tell you something about king David: He is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us today (Acts 2:29). David is dead and his body rotted.

David did, however, as a prophet tell us that one of his descendants would sit on his throne (v. 30). So, David saw in advance and told us about “the resurrection of the Messiah: ‘His body was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did His body see decay’” (v. 31).

Paul tells us the same thing but he says it a little differently. He says King “David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption” (Acts 13:36). King David saw corruption. His body decomposed. So, David is not the “Holy One” that the Psalm refers to.

Paul goes on to say, “But He whom God raised up did not see corruption” (v. 37). Ding, ding, ding! Jesus is the Holy One! He is the long-awaited Messiah and forever King!

Jesus is the fulfillment of David’s prophecy. Jesus was neither abandoned to the grave nor did His body undergo decay. Peter said that God raised Him up and that he was a witness of that truth (Acts 2:32). And so Peter, the faithless denier, became faithful even to the point of death, and even the death of upside-down crucifixion.[1]

Therefore, Peter’s body, and our bodies can dwell in hope (Ps. 16: 9) even when they are buried six-feet under because of the resurrection of Messiah Jesus![2] So, when those in Christ die we grieve but not as those with no hope (1 Thess. 4:13). We have hope because of Jesus’ resurrection (v. 14)!

Jesus is the first bodily resurrection in a long line of resurrections. Therefore, no matter what we face—“tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine”—nothing can separate us from the love of Christ (see Rom. 8:31-39).

Therefore, we don’t need to fear famine, we don’t need to panic at the prospect of a pandemic. Why not? Because Jesus says, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore” (Rev. 1:17-18).

I’m not sure what the mortality rate of the coronavirus but the mortality rate for all of us is 100%. Hebrews 9:27 says, “It is appointed for man to die once, and after that the Judgment.”

We will all die so what hope do we have? Jesus! His body did not see corruption! He is the suffering one as promised in Psalm 22 and He is the Holy One as promised in Psalm 16.

Through Jesus we have hope. His body did not see corruption, He rose from the dead. And all those who trust in Him will rise as He was raised. And so, “Fear not” (Rev. 1:17). Jesus is the First and the Last, He is the Living One. He died but behold He is alive forevermore.

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[1] Tradition says that Peter was crucified upside down in Rome under Emperor Nero. See also John 21:18-19.

[2] This is true of David’s body, Peter’s body, and it’s true of all those in Christ, because Jesus, though crucified, did not see corruption! Jesus rose from the dead and He will bring a large host with Him (Is. 53:11, 12)! 1 Corinthians 15 talks about Jesus being the firstfruits, and there’s a ton of more “fruit” to come (v. 20, 23)!

The Coronavirus and the Christian

How should Christians think about and respond to the coronavirus? Here are some initial thoughts…

Plague and the Problem of Evil

Christians see the world in a way that makes sense of the world. We have an understanding of why plagues and the problem of evil exist.

That leads us to acknowledge something else that’s super important to focus on: Jesus. Jesus did not leave us to our problems. He did not leave us to simply wallow in plagues. Instead, He Himself plunged headlong into our sorrow.

“The God of The Bible becomes completely human and hurts in every way that we do—from physical pain to social rejection, misunderstanding, hatred, violence, and death. He endures it all. And because he suffers all of this with us, he can empathize with our sorrow and pain. Even more amazingly, Jesus’ death on the cross and his resurrection are the avenues through which he overcomes all evil, pain, and misery and is able to offer us the promise that disappointment will give way to joy, brokenness to eternal healing, and evil to good. Because of Christ’s agony, death will die and life will live on forever.”[1]

Therefore, even in the midst of plague and the problem of evil we can point people to Jesus. We can point people to hope, no matter what happens. Therefore, Christian, continue to worship Christ as Lord and always be ready to tell everyone the reason you have hope even in the midst of the chaos of the curse and the coronavirus (1 Pet. 3:15).

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Ash Wednesday

It is when we weep and howl in the agonies of distress that our rescue is all the more rejoiced in. When we see the contrast of our mourning turned into dancing and our ashes replaced with a crown, it gives us a picture of where we came from and what we deserve and what we get through the free salvation of Christ Jesus. 

Ash Wednesday is a day of penitence but it leads to a party—new life in Jesus! We see our dire state and we see our sweet salvation! 

Ash Wednesday is a type of looking down. Looking at ourselves, the state that we’re in. But we look down so we can have the right perspective as we look up and out to Jesus. 

Ash Wednesday is a tangible and powerful symbol of our need. And when we know our need we rejoice in the One that comes for the poor and needy. 

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Falling like the Rain

I woke to the sound of rain drenching everything in its path and my daughters quiet voice asking if the dog can still go out to use the restroom. “Yes, please take the dog out!” was my urgent reply.

I have always loved the rain. The sound it creates as it slaps the ground, rushing along the path it created just moments ago. It is a gift from God. He uses the rain to feed and nourish all His creation. All of our senses are brushed by His creation. We shiver in the dampness, we smell & taste the sweet yet dank rain, we hear and see the chorus of individual drops dissolve.

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We’re all limping and crawling towards the finish line

I’m learning as Christians that we’re all fellow sufferers. We’re all limping and crawling towards the finish line. We all have scars. They’re different but we all have them. I have them, you have them, and no matter what we do our kids will have them. We live in a broken world and we’re sadly broken. 

Temptations are plenty, victory feels sparse, and sufferings abound. 

We need to walk hand in hand. We need to carry each other’s burdens as it says in Galatians. Who am I to look down on you with your burden and brokenness?! Who am I not to extend a hand of grace when I have stumbled so often and took others?!

Jesus was tempted too, though thankfully He was forever without sin. And Jesus was limping too. In fact, someone had to carry His burden for Him. Someone carried His burden up to the point of His crucifixion. And yet He bore the ultimate burden their. 

Jesus is brokenness incarnate. He broke. He wept and wailed. And in His agony sweated great drops of blood. 

He broke for us. And He breaks alongside of us. He suffered for us. He suffers with us. He intercedes for us. 

He who knows no bounds. He who is beauty, took on woe. He who deserves nothing but highest and infinite praise was broken to the depths. He was sorrowful unto death. 

Jesus the Lord, Master, and Creator of all, suffered. How can we, His servants, expect anything less?

Father, by Your Spirit, grant that we may suffer and walk (or limp) well and honor Your Son Messiah Jesus. And haste the day when we shall see You face to face where sorrows shall be no more! And Father, help us Your children to walk this weary life hand in hand, fellow pilgrims on the way to the land of peace and plenty. We trust and we wait as we walk heavenward. Help us we ask in Christ. Amen. 

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