Dear brothers & sisters in Christ,
It’s been a year now. A year since we’ve first heard about a new kind of virus, a coronavirus. I bet that word “coronavirus” wasn’t even a part of your vocabulary a year ago, yet now it’s become something that’s entered into almost daily usage. It’s rather surreal, isn’t it? We’ve heard of all kinds of turmoil and trouble in the world before, we’ve heard of economic downturns that affected many of us, but it was always something that we could work through and often didn’t affect the daily routines that we enjoyed and took for granted. But the pandemic changed all our lives. None of us was left untouched, none of us could say that we liked what was going on. On the one hand, it’s important to remember that all of this trouble and turmoil has been around since the fall into sin, and plagues and unrest were far more frequent in the history of the world. The Bible even tells us that God has even used such times to further His plan of salvation.
The first example that we have in the Bible is the account of the flood in the book of Genesis (Genesis 6-9). If you thought this pandemic was bad, try being the only family that’s survived aboard a powerless boat floating upon the chaotic waters that have covered the earth. Yet we find that this time of great & powerful plague is capped off with a covenant, or promise, from God to never destroy the world by a flood again. His promise written in Genesis 9:12 reminds us that He still saw His creation and mankind as good, even after the fall. And then, as a sign of this promise He put a sign in the sky–a rainbow. But, the cool thing is who is the rainbow for? (Hint: It’s not for you & me) It’s for God, to remind God of His promise. He put it there to remind Himself of His promise, which then also reminds you of His faithfulness to His promise. This story of great trouble also serves to remind us that just as He delivered His people from the flood, and gave a sign of His new promise, He will deliver His people from sin & death itself through His Son and give a new sign of that new promise in the cross. By death, He has destroyed the power of death.
And those waters also point you to a new flood of waters–your Baptism, which 1 Peter 3 teaches you are the sign of His promise that He now saves you. He has saved you through the waters of your Baptism. That’s God’s promise to you. He has brought you through the storm of your sin and your death through the waters and made you His child to eternal life.
Another example is the book of Job. If you want to watch the members of the Wednesday Bible study squirm, mention the book of Job. We had a great time studying the book, but it took a while. They’ll have flashbacks. Job is a book in which we see so much suffering. There’s turmoil and there’s death. But over all of that, we see God’s mercy and how He works His promise to work all things for good. It’s a book that teaches us that while there are times that we might question God at how bad things are going in the world, we ultimately don’t know what He’s planning. God is God, and we are not. What He gives us is a promise, a promise that endures through suffering and pain, disappointment and depression. Our suffering doesn’t tell us what God thinks about us. His promise in the forgiveness of sins through Christ tells us what God thinks about us. Though Job relies on this promise for much of the book, his three friends finally wear him down so that he points to his success before his suffering as something that showed the favour he had earned with God. What brought Him back was God Himself, caring for Job, and pointing Him back to His promise.
The last example that I’ll give in this little letter is the cross. Here we see God Himself enduring untold suffering. We usually focus on his physical suffering, which is drastic just on its own. The ordeal of enduring trials all night, and morning, being beaten, whipped with whips that have little barbs at the tips to turn your back into ribbons, then crucified is excruciating all on its own. But then there’s the humiliation of being ridiculed, spit on, stripped naked, and treated as the lowest criminal when you’re the almighty God & ruler of the universe is something else entirely. But, if that weren’t enough there’s also the spiritual suffering of bearing the sins of the entire world that had ever lived, was living, and ever will live, bearing upon the strength of His Father throughout the whole ordeal. And then, while hanging upon the cross, Jesus looks again to His Father, and He’s not there. The Father has forsaken Him on the cross. Such enormous suffering our Lord took upon Himself for us. All of it for you. All of it to save you from your sins. All of it win your life from the sinful death that you deserve. God working through the worst of suffering to win your eternal good.
If God can work all of those times of gross suffering for your good, make no mistake, He can and will work, and is working even this time for our good.
Your servant in Christ,
Pastor Tim Schneider
PS. This was inspired by a blog post I found at this link: https://www.concordiagospeloutreach.org/blog/3-times-god-has-used-turmoil-in-his-salvation-plan