All three synoptic Gospels recount the event when Jesus and his disciples were out on the Sea of Galilee when they were hit by a storm. The disciples, despite some of them being experienced fishermen, were terrified, while Jesus slept through the start of the storm. Eventually, the disciples woke Jesus, who calmly stilled the wind and the waves and then rebuked the disciples for their lack of faith.
The lesson is clear, we should not fear because when things get rough, Jesus will calm the storm.
Or is it?..
In Acts 27 another of Jesus disciples, Paul, finds himself in a boat faced by stormy seas. Far from the seas being stilled to save Paul’s life, the ship was driven by the wind for many days and they went without food for a considerable time before being shipwrecked on the shore of Malta. It is true, that an angel had told Paul that no lives would be lost in the shipwreck, and that is exactly what happened.
So, we can be sure that even if we have to go through hard times, Jesus will preserve our lives at the end.
Or can we?…
Jesus didn’t step in to preserve Stephen’s life when people were throwing stones at him and reducing his body to a bloody pulp. In a modern equivalent of a shipwreck, the Lord didn’t preserve the lives of my friends after we took them to the airport, where they boarded a plane that crashed into the sea. The Bible and Christian history show that there are no easy promises of health and security this side of eternity.
I have no doubt that God can and will miraculously heal some Christians who fall ill with coronavirus. On the other hand, there will be those who go through a long and painful process before finally recovering – their lives will be spared. However, there will also be faithful Christians who will succumb to the virus, without any apparent divine intervention. This is the biblical pattern.
Our job, is to trust and to bring glory to God in whatever circumstances we find ourselves, but – you know what? – it’s tough. It would be lovely to write that I know that God is going to preserve us all through this crisis, that he will still the coronavirus storm and that we will be unharmed – but I can’t.
At this point in history, we need the assurance of eternal safety that God’s Word brings and we need the support of a community that will allow us to honestly share our hopes and fears and that brings Christian comfort, rather than quick and easy soundbites.