My most lovely and favorite Facebook friend shared the picture below a few days ago, and it got me thinking about COVID, life, death, and the hand of God in all of it. I have seen many posts over the last several months, as we all have regarding COVID-19, antiviral precautions, and some flat-out fear-mongering. There are a wide variety of opinions on how to approach viral precautions (masks or no masks, lock-downs vs business as usual, etc). I am sure that I have made my opinion on these things known enough, much to the chagrin of my Facebook friends (and those who have chosen not to remain connected to me on social media).
However, this evening, I would like to leave some Scripture for us to consider in regard to our big picture approach to COVID-19, or to any other life-threatening condition for that matter. After the Bible texts, I will leave some brief thoughts. The Bible, God's Holy Word, says this about the issues of life and death:
Job 14:1-5 -
“How frail is humanity!
How short is life, how full of trouble!
2 We blossom like a flower and then wither.
Like a passing shadow, we quickly disappear.
3 Must you keep an eye on such a frail creature
and demand an accounting from me?
4 Who can bring purity out of an impure person?
5 You have decided the length of our lives.
You know how many months we will live,
and we are not given a minute longer.
Psalm 139: 16 -
You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.
Acts 17: 24-26 -
“He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples, 25 and human hands can’t serve his needs—for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need. 26 From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries.
Psalm 31: 15 -
My times are in Your hand;
Deliver me from the hand of my enemies and from those who persecute me.
Psalm 68: 20 -
God is to us a God of deliverances;
And to God the Lord belong escapes from death.
Isaiah 38: 5 -
“Go and say to Hezekiah, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of your father David, “I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; behold, I will add fifteen years to your life.
Daniel 5: 23 -
"but you have exalted yourself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of His house before you, and you and your nobles, your wives and your concubines have been drinking wine from them; and you have praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood and stone, which do not see, hear or understand. But the God in whose hand are your life-breath and all your ways, you have not glorified."
Many in the Church will argue about God's role in predetermining events in the lives of people. Many will argue about the role of man's free will in how life events play out. Argue if you must. BUT, there is no question from the teaching of the Scriptures that God both predetermines and also gives people opportunity to exercise the will. How God's predetermination and the will of man interact is a mystery (a mystery that you and I can chat about over a Diet Coke in-person, but not in a comment chain on social media). And yet, in His own Holy Word, God has been so kind to at least make it clear to us that both life and death are under His control. The Lord is King, and that includes a sovereign kingship over life and death, mine and yours, that of our children and our elderly.
So, wear a mask if you must. Or don't. Wear your seatbelt. Or don't. Stay home if it makes you feel safe. Or don't. Get the vaccine. Or don't. I hope that you wash your hands regularly (because it is just gross if you do not). Distance yourself from others if it makes you or them feel more comfortable (I don't really want to be any closer than 6 feet or so to anyone, with only a few exceptions). Of course, be respectful of those who feel differently than yourself. No, this does not mean that you must do what they do in order to be respectful. But, don't yell at each other over it. Don't punch or shoot those who differ. Go ahead and de-friend them on social media if you must (since you probably are not really a friend anyway in that case).
BUT KNOW & UNDERSTAND THAT GOD RULES OVER LIFE AND DEATH. You will not change the length of your days based on a mask, a seatbelt, a vaccine, or anything else (except maybe prayer, as in Isaiah 38). You will not change the number of days of any other person either. You, my friend, are not that powerful. But God is.
So, live your life. Be kind and respectful of others. Receive the mercy of God in Christ for your sin. And then live like today may be your last. Because... It may be. If so, how do you want to spend the time? Living and loving or hiding and self-preserving?