One the great dangers in the Christian life is to forget the Lord and his goodness to us. This was a great problem for Israel in times of prosperity, just as Moses warned them, in Deuteronomy 6:10-12 (ESV):
And when the LORD your God brings you into the land that he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you — with great and good cities that you did not build, and houses full of all good things that you did not fill, and cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant — and when you eat and are full, then take care lest you forget the LORD, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
In Seasons of Adversity
Forgetfulness of the Lord is no less a problem in seasons of adversity, as is evident from the many calls in the Bible to patience and thankfulness when things aren’t going well. Dissatisfaction over the state of things is the key ingredient to a bitter, complaining spirit. Christians believe that their calling in this life is to be patient also in adversity, “For all creatures are so completely in [God’s] hand that without his will they can neither move nor be moved” (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 10). We should ponder that statement for a moment. “All creatures” includes believers, non-believers, enemies and, yes, all governing authorities.
Above the actions and decisions of all creatures in this life, is the enthroned King of kings, who decides the times of all things (Ecc. 3). “The king’s heart,” as was shown to Israel in the heart of Pharaoh, “is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will” (Pro. 21:1). What made Israel’s complaining so evil, especially when real enemies attacked them, was their complete lack of trust in God and his sovereign care for them. No one other than the Lord held the reigns of Israel’s times and circumstances.
There is a lot of frustration right now in our society over the handling of Covid-19. We are as divided politically on this issue as any other issue. A great “season of adversity” has come upon us and complaining and fighting has become the way of the world. My concern is that Christians have joined with the world in its complaint, ultimately against God himself. A complaining spirit in times of adversity showcases our forgetfulness of the sovereign Lord. What does our attitude demonstrate; that all things are in the hands of governing authorities? that God is absent from our shutdown? that Covid-19 came in the back door without God seeing?
If the Lord hasn’t seen fit to change things, or turn the hearts of rulers, might there be a greater purpose in what is clearly a testing of the world (see Rev. 3:10)? To be sure, confusion in our current crisis abounds. Nevertheless, the Lord calls his people to showcase, to a dying world, contentment in his will for us in times of adversity. This is precisely why the apostle said he had learned the secret of contentment; not just when he was full, but also when hungry (see Phil. 4).
A Plan of Action
There is something very productive the believer can do at this time. We can replace our complaining with praise to the Lord for what he has done and promised to do for us.
Psalm 103 is meant to be a corrective to forgetfulness in every circumstance of life. The Psalm begins, “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all of his benefits”. King David is thinking about the mighty acts of the Lord in both providence and salvation. This leads him to joyfully praise the Lord in full recognition of God’s fatherly care for him in this life.
Here are five reasons during Covid-19 to praise God before an unbelieving world:
First, “He forgives all your iniquities”. This is the Lord’s most important blessing, from which every other good gift comes. In the fullness of time, God sent his Son to make full atonement for all of your sins. David encourages us to live in the joy of this benefit. Stand and look to the west, and then turn and look to the east. Can you measure that distance? Verse 12 tells us, “as far as the east is from the west, so far does [God] remove our transgressions from us”. Praise the Lord! We are forgiven and reconciled to God in peace, through the blood of Christ.
Second, “He heals all of your diseases”. Take this as it is intended to be: a blessing and general truth of what the Lord does for us. How many of us have faced health issues, and some very serious? We have cried and prayed, and the Lord has answered us. The Lord constantly hears and answers our prayers when we cry to him over sicknesses. I can’t begin to name all the saints I have prayed with in their affliction. The Lord has answered and helped each one; even when he chose to take them home! The Lord cares for us right now, body and soul. Praise the Lord for his care for our physical needs!
Third, “He redeems your life from destruction”. Everyone reading this post is going to die. For most, Covid-19 won’t be the cause, but something else. Jesus has disarmed death’s sting for you: “O death, where is your sting?” (1 Cor. 15:55). The consequence of this truth is that, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on” (Rev. 14:13). “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints” (Ps. 116:15). Our Lord Jesus Christ has overcome death and hell for you, so that you can enjoy this blessing: your life is redeemed from destruction. Praise the Lord for overcoming death through the resurrection of Christ!
Fourth, “He crowns you with steadfast love and mercy”. The Lord has crowned us with all kinds of good gifts and mercies. He is always kind and loving toward us in his providence, and he is always ready to help us. The Lord is constantly patient with us; never giving us what our sins deserve. Our heavenly Father’s “good and perfect gifts” are never ending (James 1). When has the Lord ever left us in want? of anything? Praise the Lord for all his good gifts to us!
Finally, “He satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s”. The Lord gives us good things to enjoy; even food. How many times have we sat at our tables and thanked him for our daily bread? Are we able to number the times he has provided and filled our mouths with good things? We are constantly refreshed by his provisions for us. Think about this tonight after you eat a meal and are strengthened again. Praise the Lord for giving us good things; even our daily bread!
This is God’s calling for you not only in good times, but also in seasons of adversity. Our God and Savior is the Lord over Covid-19 and he promises to care for us. We should be careful to demonstrate our trust in him to the world. Bless the Lord with your whole being today. Bless him and do not forget all he has done for you. Let any complaints be turned to praise as you remember these benefits, which are still yours even today in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. The times and seasons, both good and bad, are always in his hand.