25 Days

This is getting old.  It has been 25 days since our first livestream sermon.  It has been 25 days since the Governor issued a ban on all gatherings of more than 100 people.

When you zoom back on your entire life, 25 days is nothing – it’s a blip.  But these might be the longest 25 days you’ve ever experienced.

We’ve had some nice, sunny days so hopefully you’ve been able to get out and enjoy the sunshine, but maybe you haven’t, given your responsibilities. Weariness is setting in, I imagine, for many of you. June 10 seems like it will never get here, and then we wonder if that will really be the day. 

Is this a big scam?

Add to this the fact that there seem to be an increasing number of articles and stories suggesting that we might be overreacting. Models are incomplete, overestimating the casualties.

We begin to wonder if this is a big scam designed to let the government overreach its power in dramatic and irreversible ways. The conspiracy theorists start to worm their way into social media discussions and begin to take a foothold in otherwise rational people’s minds. We begin to doubt.

But then we hear stories of people sedated and on ventilators, dying alone in hospitals with their families unable to hold their hands, and we begin to weep and to fear for our own lives and those of our children.  We want to escape. 

What if we all overreacted?

So, in the midst of all this, we might ask, what if?  What if this was a major overreaction?  What if we didn’t help flatten the curve because there was no curve to flatten?

I know one thing I hate is to be wrong.  We feel foolish and gullible when we find out what we did wasn’t necessary.

How are we to feel about our adherence to the directives given to us by our government if we found out they were wrong?

Aside from using the political process to instate more wise leaders, I don’t think we should feel any different, if this turns out to be the case.  This is because we are commanded by God to obey those in authority over us.

There is no authority except from God

Romans 13 is the classic passage we go to in Scripture for this.  I think the key part of that chapter is the first verse, where we are told that

There is no authority except from God and those that exist have been appointed by God.

Paul goes on to say that they are servants of God (vv 4-5 – same word we use for “Deacon”), and even ministers of God.  Note the “those that exist”, though.  Paul is working in contexts with some tyrannical leaders, both at the local and empire level.

They exist, we obey. Their authority comes not from themselves, but from God. 

In other words, we are doing what we are doing because God has told us to, through the secular ministers and deacons that he has appointed.  To obey them is to obey God.

Of course, we don’t obey them as God, but we obey them as from God.  Therefore if anything they tell us to do flatly contradicts God’s word, then we do have the responsibility to resist.

We have not been given any such order.  We are still free to worship, just not in groups, and the rule has been applied across the board to all gatherings.

Consider your leaders carefully

So we must be careful when we consider our leaders.  They may be wrong, but they are from God.  I have seen God do great things through the bad decisions of his leaders.

Whatever God is doing, it is calculated, designed, and perfect. It is easy to armchair quarterback the decisions of scientists, doctors, governors and presidents.

We must remember that they are flawed people. They are finite. They are no more God than we are.

So we must pray for them and repent in our own hearts of our desire to rebel against them.

But why do we wish to rebel?  I think this brings us back to my first paragraph, to which I add, I don’t think we know how to suffer well.

What does it look like to suffer well in quarantine?

I don’t mean how to be productive in quarantine-time, how to make the most of the moment.

I’m honestly not sure how to beat the feeling that I am being dragged downward all the time.  There’s a mental heaviness that I think we are all experiencing.

Granted, in the grand scheme of things, this is pretty light at the moment. The economic impacts haven’t been fully felt by all of us just yet, and being required to stay in our comfortable homes with air conditioning, heat, and appliances isn’t exactly third-world level yet.

I’m not discounting what we’re going through – life is harder right now than it usually is.  It will likely get harder.

The level of suffering we are experiencing right now, and will in the future, we have to remember, is from God.  It is from a God who loves us, who is watching over us, who himself knows suffering.

What is God doing in this suffering?

He is carefully superintending every aspect of what is happening here, and is using it to bring us to glory. 

Paul says this in 2 Cor. 4

though our outer self [mental and physical] is wasting away, yet our inner self is being renewed day by day.

Did you know that?  Through this period of coronavirus quarantine, lock-down orders, shelter in place, stress at home, stress “at” work (or out of work), economic and physical uncertainty, we are actually being made new.

You don’t feel it, but its happening.  It’s invisible but it is there.

How do I know?  Because God told me.

He told me and you right there in 2 Cor. 4.  He told us that this is “light momentary affliction.”  Light, as in “having little weight.” Momentary as in “this will be over before you know it.”

But what it creates in you is “beyond comparison.” Paul uses the same word twice there.

It is excessive. It is eternal. It is glory.

The weight of glory

Paul says “weight of glory.”  Not “weight” in the sense of heaviness or a burden, but in the sense of fullness or abundance.  The affliction is light by comparison.  The point is not to discount the affliction, but to magnify the glorification.

That’s what is happening now.  This is a future reality that God has begun in the present time.  He is making you more like Christ.

God is exalting you, all the more while you are feeling low.  God is loving you, all the more though you might feel abandoned.  God is making you glorious, all the more as this life gets old. 

That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!  So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

2 Corinthians 4:16–18 NLT-SE

I will be providing a Good Friday message for you that will touch on this, as it concerns the crucifixion of Christ. I love you, am praying for you, and am struggling along with you.