Hope in God: COVID-19 is the world’s Job moment (commentary by Jael Joseph)

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Take a minute and just, BREATHE. Can you believe we’ve been through what we’ve gone through? Quarantines & shut downs, how many cases? How many deaths? The PM’s address, what’s he going to do next?

….What’s HE (God) going to do next? The PM is the head of the nation, but who is the Head of the world? We wait with baited breath to know our Prime Minister’s next move…we sit and we’re eager to hear…and even when he’s late, we wait… How many of us have asked Almighty God what His next move is? Are we as eager to hear? Do we sit and wait to hear what He has to say or do we listen instead to…

…Endless WhatsApp messages, conspiracy theories (some not – but TRUTH!), your phone goes off every 5 minutes! Scroll though social media…corona, corona, CORONA! Memes & op-Ed’s, dead ends, world leaders, world waits to re-open…what about Trump?

What about Almighty God? Videos of people kneeling in the streets, nurses atop a hospital praying for their patients…pastors and preachers praying on the news’ broadcasts…church is online, live streamed…are you living live streamed with Almighty God daily?

What is He saying? Is this His judgment for a world gone astray? Has He decided that enough is enough? Is He saying woe unto us because we have walked away from Him? But what about the faithful ones..are they not praying enough?

Questions abound, but no answers in sight…reminds us of a man who once questioned God endlessly when things went wrong for him in every way they could.

There was a man named Job – he was a devout man of God…he was blessed beyond measure, like so many of us…the Jeff Bezos of his time till it all came crashing down, a conversation occurred in heaven concerning him that he knew nothing about.

We attribute so many things to God. Someone dies, we say…God took Him. We say “everything happens for a reason” but what’s the reason or rather, who’s the reason? Surely, we know that ultimately, God IS in control, but does that mean that everything that happens in our world comes from His hand? Did Covid-19 come from Almighty God to punish us, chastise us and get our attention on Him?

Job’s experience, though seemingly different from ours, was not so different. He too could not understand why all these things were happening to him. He was faithful to God, so faithful in fact that the Bible describes him like this “He was blameless – a man of complete integrity. He feared God and stayed away from evil.” (Job 23:10 NLT). Yet, in a short space of time, Job lost everything and became very sick. See, Job’s experience was not so different from ours. In a short space of time, life has surely changed. Sadly, some of us have lost everything – our livelihoods, our way of life, some have lost health: mental & physical, some have lost sanity, some have lost joy and some have lost the ultimate – the breath of life.

But Job had no social media? No internet? True, except Job had his own personal social media and his own personal conspiracy theorists. Seemingly, the information he thought he needed came not in the form of surfing the internet but in waves of opinions from those surrounding him. First advice Job got? From his wife, telling him to curse God and die. Reeling with anger she couldn’t understand why after all that had been taken from him, Job would even want to exist. But why was Job existing? Was he existing and serving God only because he was prosperous? Did he exist only for material things that God had blessed him with? What does it mean to be blessed? Why are we existing? When life turns topsy-turvy in the midst of a pandemic, what does it mean to us to be blessed? Can we be blessed in the midst of Covid-19?

As if his wife telling him to roll over and die wasn’t enough, Job’s seemingly devout friends all had opinions and conspiracy theories about why this was happening to him. His WhatsApp messages were live and direct – they came to offer their counsel, their wisdom, their experience. Except, none of them had ever been through what Job was going through. Was what they were saying truly from God or just hearsay? Is what we are hearing about Covid-19 truly from God or just hearsay? Chapters upon chapters, a back and forth between Job and his friends – they tell him “it must be because of your sin.” Yet with all their reasons, and all their answers, there still seems to be no ANSWER.

In the barrage of information that we have received, has there really been an ANSWER? Has there been any comfort? Has there been any hope? How many of us experienced sheer depression at simply “keeping ourselves informed”? It seems we couldn’t even escape Covid-19 when we were trying to escape it. We face a constant bombardment: Covid, Covid, Covid.

Job faced a constant bombardment too – God did this to you because you are bad, God did this to you because – because, because, because. Yet everything Job’s social media said couldn’t have been farther from the truth. What Job was going through was a trial. Covid-19, the world’s Job moment, is simply a trial. A trial of our faith, a trial of our characters, a trial of our resolve to serve God come what may, no matter the cost.

“Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.” (1 Peter 4:12-13 NLT)

The scripture speaks of God’s glory being revealed to all the world, but the glory only comes after the trial. It may seem endless, like Covid-19 will never end, like the bad news just keeps coming and coming and coming. Dear friends, this is a trial and at the end of it God’s glory will be revealed to all the world. Covid-19 did NOT come from the hand of God, but He allowed it to accomplish His purpose, just as He allowed Job’s circumstance to accomplish a greater end in him. “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” (Jer 29:11 KJV) What was Job’s greater end?

In the midst of all the opinions and hearsay, Job told his friends “But He knows the way I take; When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10). In what seemed like a hopeless situation, Job kept hoping. He kept believing that God would bring him out of this situation into a greater place. Yet, although Job held on to this hope and this belief, he questioned God throughout his experience. His questions abounded even as his friends tried to answer them. However, no answers came until God Himself spoke:

“Then the LORD said to Job, “Do you still want to argue with the Almighty? You are God’s critic, but do you have the answers?” (Job 40:1-2 NLT). God answered Job’s questions with questions. He asked Job whether he as a man could lift a finger to do any of what He as God had done. In all of our questions to God about Covid-19, what are God’s questions to us? Are we, like Job, enveloped in the voices that surround us instead of truly listening for the voice of God?

After Job listened to God’s answers in the form of questions, Job’s questions stopped and all that remained was heartfelt repentance. He repented for himself and he repented for his friends. After his repentance, Job’s faith in God’s expected end came to pass: “When Job prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes. In fact, the Lord gave him twice as much as before!” (Job 42:10).

Though Covid-19 did not come upon us as judgment for our sins, in this time, God is calling us to repentance, repentance that answers His questions to us. “What did I create you for? Why aren’t you living for Me? What have I asked you to do that you are not doing? Do you truly love Me or do you only love Me because of your blessings? Will you surrender to Me today? Will you give me your life, your love, your everything? Will you come to Me by giving your heart to My Son Jesus?”

After Job had listened to God’s questions, he came up with some answers. Job said in part: “I know that you can do anything and no one can stop you. (Job 42:2 NLT)…I had only heard about you before but now I have seen you with my own eyes.” (Job 42:5 NLT) In the midst of Covid-19 and all its repercussions, if we listen to God’s questions surely we will come up with the same answers. God can do anything and nothing can stop Him, no, not even Covid-19. Before Covid-19 we may have only heard about God, but after this trial we will see Him with our own eyes.
Hope in God.

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