We live in a challenging time. Who would have thought that our everyday life will be so overwhelmed by a situation like the COVID-19 crisis and that we must cope with such restrictions? But in my opinion, it is not so much the restrictions that currently concern and unsettle many Christians. Rather, it is the very rapidly spreading doomsday scenarios and often insensitive announcements from some brothers and sisters. It is strange how some suddenly seem to know that the end of the world is near.
It’s no wonder that some of us ask ourselves these or similar questions:
“Are we heading towards the end of the world? Will a wave of persecution hit Christians, triggered by a seemingly forming surveillance state?”
Some ask about the causes of or those who cause the crisis:
“Did our Lord himself trigger the crisis to cleanse his people? Did the enemy trigger the crisis by using his henchmen to attack the church of Christ? Was it ourselves who triggered the crisis, because of our unrepentant attitude and because we didn’t pray enough?”
Others believe that they would not be affected anyway, because as children of God they would not be infected by the virus at all. Many of these questions and information reach me in increasing numbers via email and social media.
WE ARE EXPECTING CHRIST’S COMING AND NOT THE END OF THE WORLD
So, I would like to pass on some of my thoughts and impressions on this topic. I’ve had some of them already in the past year. I start with one of my most important beliefs from this perspective: We as believers do not expect the end of the world, but the return of our Lord, which is promised to us. Jesus himself announced this return and called us to be awake and watchful (Mt 24:42). So, this is one of the key findings of this crisis: we are reminded to be vigilant.
WE ARE NOT SEARCHING FOR THE GUILTY, BUT PEOPLE WHO HAVE NO HOPE
Regarding the perpetrators of the crisis, I would like to say that we have neither the task of finding a culprit, nor the mandate to give judgment on those who are believed to be guilty. Will we ever be able to find the culprit with certainty? History has shown someone guilty could always be found, if one only looked intensely enough. Unfortunately, afterwards, it often turned out that the allegations were not sustainable.
Instead, let us invest this time to turn towards our fellow men and women as much as we can. At a time like this, let’s make a difference by giving hope and comfort to people. Our hope is not from this world because we trust in the one who is not from this world. So, the simple good news today is: There is hope in the Lord! That is why we find our refuge and our confidence in him.
Many people are plagued by various fears these days. But fears are usually not good advisors. Although they can make people more careful and attentive, they can also paralyze, destroy trust and weaken body and soul. Our Lord says:
“You are afraid in the world; but be confident, I have overcome the world.” (Jn 16:33)
BELIEVERS ALSO EXPERIENCE CRISES AND DISASTERS
Countless catastrophes have shaken our world in the past. And as Bible readers, we can say this with certainty: The COVID-19 crisis is not the last one. Even as Christians, we are part of this creation and therefore affected by the consequences of the disasters – whether we want to admit it or not. I would like to revisit Jesus speech on the end of times from the Gospel of Matthew. There it says that before his return, the time of suffering will be reduced for the sake of the believer (Mt 24:22). Obviously, there is no mention here that believers are exempt from human suffering. It is therefore not surprising to me that I am getting messages about our sick brothers and sisters these days.
WE ARE AMBASSADORS OF TRUST
But when the crises of this world come over us, we can trust God. He will act on our behalf (Ps 37: 5). We do not want to keep this trust in God to ourselves. Our relatives, neighbours and friends are currently looking for orientation and comfort. So, let’s carry the message of trust and share it with our neighbour. Our strength lies in this fact, that we do not have to trust ourselves, but he who is trustworthy. Like Paul, we can say that we are weak and strong at the same time, because God’s strength comes to fully unfold within our weakness (2 Corinthians 12: 9).
THE CRISIS WILL PASS, BUT NOT WITHOUT CHANGING US
In my opinion, we will overcome the shock and cope with the crisis, together with our fellow human beings. This crisis will change us and at least for some time, it has already done that.
Some of you will probably already know this popular saying:
“One can only learn to appreciate to upside of life, by experiencing its downside.”
I believe that now we can learn gratitude in a special way – gratitude for what we’ve had so far. I believe that many people will see life with new eyes and will ask fundamental questions about life and death again. This is a great opportunity for the gospel. Let’s take it!