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. Experiencing God in Lockdown

EXPERIENCING GOD IN LOCKDOWN


Media is filling our minds all day with the latest news, even fake news, with infection stats, and they remind people to stay home for the safety of our population. Outbreaks of the virus continue to spike in Italy, Spain and Germany, but have also moved much closer to home even though we have only had one death so far in South Africa the cases of people affected is growing. Hospitals are starting to feel the surge. Older citizens know they’re in the bullseye of this. The virus is causing lung failure in a younger demographic than was previously expected. The elderly are stressed. Adults of all ages are stressed. Kids are stressed. Parents are stressed. Business owners are stressed. Dads and moms who provide care are stressed. Even us as Pastors are stressed. Few of us know if this virus will infect us personally. But its ripple effects have already impacted every one of us. And now we’re told this could all last for months.

 

Romans 8:18-37 (ESV)

But what does the Bible say about events like these. In Romans 8:1 Paul says: 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.


Do we realise, whether it is at the hand of a virus, cancer or anything else, our suffering is not worth wasting our time on, but we need to join the saints of old and put our focus on the glory to come, while dealing responsibly with that which life throws at us. There is just no comparison. I think when we stand in glory one day we are going to be stunned when we see what we have been rescued from and how it compares with the Shekinah glory of God.

 

So, glory is coming, but what is our present reality?


19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.


Since Adam and Eve chose sin over the joy of contentment in what God had provided, God subjected this world to trials, or what we will call acts of God. These kinds of trials have always been there. There have always been plagues, there has always been wars and rumours of wars, there has always been storms, and floods and droughts and whatever nature can throw at us because Adam and Eve in obedience to Satan have messed up not just this world but the whole of creation. But before you blame them, realise that we are sinners by birth and sinners by choice.

In all of this, this side of glory there are realities that we must face. Some of the realities are:

  • God is real.
  • God loves us.
  • God cares for us.
  • God is there for us.
  • Sin is real.
  • Trials are real.
  • Hell is real.
  • Christians suffer in trials as well.
  • There is no condemnation for Christians.
  • Jesus Christ is real.
  • The blood He shed in the crucifixion is real.
  • The Holy Spirit is real.
  • Faith and the absence of faith are real.
  • Heaven is real.
  • The human soul that will exist forever in heaven or in hell is real.

These realities will play out in our lives on a daily basis in the midst of calamaties. The issue is not whether we fear the frustration of creation, but how we respond to that fear.


What God is doing — among a million other things — in the coronavirus, is forcing the issue of reality. And one of the litmus tests of whether your life is based on reality or based on the mirage of God-ignoring and God-forgetting lifestyles is fear. The test of the foundations of your life is fear. The more you put your hope in this world the more you will fear. Oh, what a precious gift God is giving to us to discover, while we still have time, that the pillars holding up our peace in this world are hollow and like candyfloss. Sweet on the lips for the moment but gone very quickly.

 

There are glorious, rock-solid, indestructible reasons and warrants and grounds and foundations for not being afraid of what the coronavirus can do to your health or to your business or to your family or to the economy or to Western civilization or to history as we know it. There are foundations in reality not to fear any of this.

But you may say, ‘we are suffering’. Sure, we can suffer, and do suffer and will suffer this side of glory. It is only in their dreams where some people never suffer.

23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

Christians are not exempt from suffering. We groan as well; we hope for the redemption of our bodies our adoption as sons.

But, why do these kinds of trials come upon the world? Besides the fact that God has subjected everything to frustration, besides the fact that all diseases and calamities is God shouting against the original and ongoing sin. These trials are there according to verse 24.

24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.


Just think if there were no such things as all these calamities and pestilences we speak about. Just think if there was no black-plaques, Spanish flues, Corona viruses. Just think if nobody died and we all were always healthy and wealthy. We will want to live in this world forever, we will not desire something better. We will not desire to be in the presence of God as life without God is great. We wait patiently for a better world, for glory, for the coming of the Son, because what we see is a reflection of the sin of Adam and Eve and our own sins that have messed up the world, but we desire that which reflects God in all His glory.

So, how do we pray according to the will of God in this time. We are bombarded by real news, fake news, true stats, false stats, false prophecies and true words of God. So, we pray, but we are not always sure if we are praying according to the will of the Father.

Paul sorts this out for us in verse 26 -27.

26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.


This is so wonderful and something we can bank on. While you are groaning inwardly, the Holy Spirit takes your groanings, and He prays for you with groanings you cannot express, because the Holy Spirit knows the will of the Father, and the Father hears the Holy Spirit because He prays according to the will of the Father.

You and I must find our rest in that.

 

Who is it that can have warranted, well-founded, justifiable, God-given, God-sustained freedom from fear and unshakable, sweet, abiding contentment, as we saw in Philippians 4:13 last week? And the answer is given in one verse — one of the most sweeping, all-encompassing, stabilizing, precious, well-known promises in the Bible:

28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.


Who is it that should enjoy the fearlessness and peace that absolutely everything around this coronavirus is working together for their eternal good? And the answer is this: those who love God and those who are called according to his purpose.

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.

Finally, here is what it all means.

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

It doesn’t matter whether we’re being killed by coronavirus or anything else. Nothing can “separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus”


Amen!

Soli Deo Gloria

29 March 2020