God Meant it for Good
My husband and I went to church last Sunday. I’m not talking on-line virtual church as we’ve done for months (which has undeniably sustained us), but a live church service with real, warm-bodied, air-breathing people. Granted, we were careful to observe social distancing guidelines, but we were physically there, able to rub elbows with fellow churchgoers if we’d been so inclined.
It was exhilarating. I felt like we’d just pulled off a prison break. I’m talking physical escape from our place of isolation that’s been in effect for eight-plus months. First, my husband’s major back surgery and his long-and-difficult road to recovery kept us confined. On the heels of that, the pandemic showed its ugly self and months of social distancing were tacked onto our already lengthy time alone.
It's little wonder that in the midst of the rising death toll and the many-detailed requirements geared toward protecting the public from further spread of this dreadful disease, that I found myself hesitant to pursue the freedom I longed for.
Then came the labyrinth of conspiracy theories about who masterminded the whole thing, followed by protests and violence in the streets. One of my favorite preachers said that what we’re seeing in all this turmoil, is a combination of God moving and Satan raging. God’s kingdom is moving in and the enemy isn’t happy. Trouble is, sometimes it’s difficult to distinguish who caused what.
And I'm thinking, Mmm, maybe home isn’t so bad after all.
Isn’t that just like the devil to use fear of disease and all these other crises in our nation to not only control the masses in general, but to control the church? Talk about conspiracy! In Genesis 50:20, Joseph is telling his eleven brothers, ‘As for you, you thought evil against me . . .’. Satan’s thought is to kill us physically with COVID-19, to isolate us through social distancing, to imprison us with fear because of social unrest, to shut us up and shut us down so we don’t offend. To dull us, numb us, paralyze and kill us spiritually. To silence us.
But God has a plan. He’s not scrambling around doing cleanup after every upset, He is intentional in everything He does, purposeful with every detail concerning His church. ' . . . but God meant it for good’ (50:20b).
He reiterates that truth again in Isaiah 49:1-2. The Lord has called me from the womb; from the body of my mother He has named my name, In other words, God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable (Romans 11:29). No pandemic, social distancing, or social crisis can null and void God’s call on our lives. His objective is to keep us spiritually moving forward.
And He has made my mouth like a sharp sword; Our hands may be temporarily tied due to social limitations, but God’s Word is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). And that sword is part of our armor (Ephesians 6:11-18). Nothing can stop us from praying, from contending with the enemy in the gates (Psalm 127:5).
. . . in the shadow of His hand has He hid me, Tucked away in the cleft of the Rock (Exodus 33:22)—that’s where our protection is in the midst of every kind of hullabaloo.
. . . and made me a polished shaft (arrow); Seasons of separation can be great blessings if we use them wisely. God will polish our spiritual senses and make us sharper, more effective. How many times have we longed for more time to pray and read the Word, to quiet our loud souls so we can better hear Him, but life’s demands have kept us from it? Now is our time. Take advantage.
. . . in his quiver has He hid me; Ellicott’s Commentary says it so beautifully: We are “hid in the quiver,” reserved, in the drama of the world’s history . . . till the “hour was come,” the appointed “fullness of time”. Just think about it. What an honor to be God’s secret weapon! Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you (Acts 19:15)?
I’ll tell you who we are! And [the Lord] said to me, You are My servant, Israel [you who strive with God and with men and prevail], in whom I will be glorified (Isaiah 49:3). We are servants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation (Acts 16:17), and through whom, the complicated, many-sided wisdom of God in all its infinite variety and innumerable aspects might now be made known to the angelic rulers and authorities (principalities and powers) in the heavenly sphere . . . (Ephesians 3:10).
Get ready world! Satan might have thought all this for evil, but God’s personal armory is about to be opened. His church will once again arise, shine, for your light has come! (Isaiah 60:1)