Although pain is inevitable, misery is optional. The same calamity can produce positive change in one person and cause caustic bitterness in another. Whether pain’s life-shaping power makes us better or bitter depends on what we believe about God. George MacDonald explains it like this:
Sometimes a thunderbolt will shoot from a clear sky; and sometimes into the life of a peaceful individual, without warning of gathering storm, something terrible will fall. And from that moment everything is changed. That life is no more what it was. Better it ought to be, worse it may be. The result depends on the life itself and its response to the invading storm of trouble. Forever after, its spiritual weather is altered. But for the one who believes in God, such rending and frightful catastrophes never come but where they are turned around for good in his own life and in other lives he touches. (Thomas Wingfold Curate)
The Pandemic of 2020 is a fierce storm—one that will alter our spiritual weather and the shape of our soul for better or worse. This kind of storm reveals what we trust in–and trusting in anything but God fuels soul-twisting fear. In Psalm 34, David reminds us to seek our loving, sovereign God when we are fearful.
I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.
This poor man called, and the LORD heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.
Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. (Psalm 34:4-8 )
The Heidelberg Catechism reminds us of our only solid comfort at times like these and every day.
What is your only comfort in life and death?
That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from all the power of the devil. He also preserves me in such a way that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, all things must work together for my salvation.
Keith & Kristyn Getty and friends put these profoundly beautiful truths in song in their “Christ Our hope in life and Death.” Listen and find comfort.
Adapted from Living in the Lion’s Den Without Being Eaten