The tune Mark Miller wrote haunts me still. We used his song, I Believe, as the entrance into worship during Lent some years ago. The words to the song were found written on a wall in Auschwitz:
I believe in the sun, even when it is not shining.
I believe in love, even though I don’t feel it.
I believe in God, even when he is silent.
How do you believe is something you can’t see, don’t feel, or do not sense? How do you believe when the troubles you face are more than anything you have imagined?
Those could have been the questions asked by the people of Israel when Jehoshaphat was ruler. In 2 Chronicles 20 we read that Jehoshaphat heard that people from the east were on their way to attack Israel. We read that Jehoshaphat was afraid. (can you say understatement?) Faced with the threat of death and destruction Jehoshaphat called the people of Judah to pray and fast. And fast and pray they did.
In 2 Chronicles 20:15b we read: “Thus says the Lord to you: ‘Do not fear or be dismayed at this great multitude; for the battle is not yours but God’s.” As we read on in the chapter, we see that God did intervene and the enemy was defeated.
This is believed to be the background to Psalm 46. No wonder these words are so powerful:
1 God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
6 The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our refuge.
COVID 19 has challenged us in profound ways. It seems that every hour we get an update about how many people have been diagnosed, or we hear about what to do – what not to do. And the truth is we can’t snap our fingers and make the virus go away. It is a very difficult matter. The resulting concerns at stores, restaurants, hospitals, churches, etc., keep expanding.
For some, it feels as if the sun has ceased to shine, that love and care for others no longer exists. In so many ways people question if there is a God, if God hears the cries of the people and if God even cares.
That is when we need to remember what God has done. Ebola, whose mortality rate was 50%, H1N1, with a mortality rate of 1-3%, were both feared diseases. Think about the other diseases that we no longer “worry” about today. God has given us the ability to develop effective treatments and vaccines. God, who helped us address those diseases, will help us now.
As Christ followers, we are uniquely qualified to be instruments of hope in days that are more difficult than any of us want to admit. We are the ones who have the Biblical stories, the personal experiences, that give witness to the reality that when the worst we could ever imagine happens, that is precisely the moment when we discover God is with us in unexpected ways. We are called to be people of faith not people of fear – people of self-sacrifice not selfishness – people who lead not – people who simply react. (Thank you for the reminder Carey Nieuwhof.)
We have a message to share – in the words we speak to others – in the emails we send – in the posts we make online – in the way we shop. Let us be the ones to demonstrate, in every way possible, that God isn’t finished yet, and that each of us is called to be a living witness of that truth. Share what you have. Be patient. Find reasons to laugh. Let limited mobility move us to season of spiritual renewal. Boldly speak peace into people’s troubled hearts. We have made it through difficult times before. We will make it through this one.
The words of Psalm 46 are as true for us today as they were when they were first shared. Let us read them, say them, and repeat them. Love one another. We are in this time together.
Blessings and Peace be yours.
I found a version of Mark Miller’s song, I Believe, on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UIw66le1GLo