I have nothing new to say about the coronavirus. Countless of resources have been released by people more knowledgeable about the pandemic than myself. So I won’t be sharing deep insights that somehow managed to have escaped their brilliant minds. I started writing this post because I was recently made to think more about the connection between God’s sovereignty and the current pandemic.
Yesterday evening, the members of my church gathered in my pastor’s house for our weekly prayer meeting. The situation in Nigeria still allows for church services to hold. While Lagos State has clearly forbidden public meetings with an attendance of at least 50 people from holding, some other states in the country have simply advised against public meetings. Trinity Baptist Church has decided to continue meeting. Our congregational size is below 50, and we haven’t been directed by the government to stop gathering together. We have decided to continue meeting as a congregation for as long as we can.
A few hours to our prayer meeting yesterday, the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) released an official report of 3 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Abuja. So, a few people came to the prayer meeting with concerns and worries. I certainly did. I have always doubted Nigeria’s ability to tackle the pandemic if community spread becomes a norm and becomes pronounced in rural communities. Five testing centers in a very large country is clearly not a sign of preparedness. It’s a reason for concern.
But we reminded ourselves of God’s mercy yesterday. Acknowledging that things could be worse for the entire world, we found much encouragement in remembering that the Sovereign God is still in control of all things. And I desperately needed that reminder. With recent personal crisis of my own, I needed to be reminded that all crisis, personal or global, is never outside the control of the Almighty.
It’s very easy to believe that God is sovereign when everything is going well. When work is moving smoothly and the bills are settled on time. When your marriage is fine and void of troubling disputes. When the kids are healthy and making progress in school. It’s easy then to say that God is working all things for your good. It’s really not difficult to say, “I see God’s hand in everything,” when everything is going well. But troubling questions and thoughts often arise in times of confusion and pain.
We can forget, howbeit temporarily, that the coronavirus is perfectly within God’s control. It’s on a leash, going only as far as the Almighty will allow it, even if that’s somewhat hard to believe when every single login to Facebook or Twitter brings news of more deaths in the world or of increasing cases in your own city. Fear becomes the norm as many are left wondering what hope they have in a world that is being rampaged by a plague that hasn’t spared the rich or poor.
Last night I was reminded that it’s better to think upon God than upon the pandemic. This morning I found myself listening to Shai Linne’s The Attributes of God, and I found great peace in being reminded that God is ever faithful, always just, and never changing. It is wiser to fix our eyes on Him than on the pandemic. I do not suggest that we ignore the pandemic or pretend it does not exist. The devil does exist, but we do not make him the center of our thoughts or give him the luxury of commandeering our every thought. If there was ever a time to fix our eyes and hearts upon God, I think it is now. As churches are forced to stop meeting around the world, believers should take extra care not to be so fixated on the often depressing news that they lose sight of God’s sovereign hand in the events of the world.
In Shai Linne’s words, “The faithful God is the God we can trust.” It’s going to be difficult for some of us to trust Him fully, but God calls us to do just that. He knows what He’s accomplishing in the world, even if we don’t.