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  • From the Cedar Street Times, Pacific Grove

What does God say about love and eternity and COVID-19?

If we are going to understand this world and disasters like COVID-19, we must first understand what God has told us about love and eternity. His perspective is the only one that allows us to make sense of the chaos we face in this world.

God tells us, we can only know Him when we learn how to love, 1 Jn 4:8, "He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love." God's kind of love is committed, no turning back, Jn 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." His love is selfless. His love never looks at superficial things like the color of a person's skin.

Can we believe in an eternal God, if we do not believe in eternity? Jn 5:24, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life." and Jn 17:3, "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." If we don't believe in eternity, we will not be able to make the sacrifices, withstand the persecutions and tribulations, required of us in this life, 2 Thes 1:4, "So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure:" If this life is all we have, why would we ever follow God's call to endure sacrifices? Without eternity, we would be the miserable of all people, 1 Cor 15:19, "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable."

Gen 1:27-28, "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth." God explained His plan, including our multiplying to cover the earth. His plan is eternal life for all who choose it, and it will be as perfect as it was for Adam and Eve before they broke the only law God gave them, Gen 2:17, "But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." Since God knows the future, He knew Adam and Eve would break that law; so His plan had to include a way for each of us to individually learn about His love for us and return it, which leads us to willingly follow His commandments, Matt 22:37-40, "Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." Why was it so hard for Adam and Eve to keep just one commandment? Why is it so hard for us to obey only two small commandments? Are we planning our lives around His offer of eternal life, or do we plan our lives around the next pleasure or excitement offered to us? Or, are we just trying to get through the day or the next disaster?

When we love God, we are finally able to see how all the pieces fit together, Eph 4:15-16, "But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love." Could He be lying to us? Numb 23:19, "God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?" Why would an all-powerful, eternal God need to lie to us? It would be like us lying to an ant, even worse, since we did not create the ant.

Should the pandemic of 2020; really cause us to doubt God's existence, any more than WWII with its 75-80 million deaths, or the Spanish Flu of 1918-1920 that killed 500 million people worldwide, or WWI with 40 million deaths, or any of the other worldwide disasters that have occurred. They all cause us to wonder, "if there is a God, why is He letting these things happen?" If everything was created very good, Gen 1:31, "And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day." what happened?

We happened. We doubted God, and it caused us to focus on ourselves. The pure love of God began to dim in the light of our own glory. We were no longer satisfied with what we had, we wanted more. All of the trees in the garden, except one, were not enough. We were no longer tolerant of other people with their wild thoughts and deeds. So, we learned to kill, as Cain did his brother Abel. We decided others should do what we tell them to do. So, we created slaves, people who would bow to our wishes. We no longer tolerated opposing opinions. This behavior only leads us away from God because it is not compatible with His love. This world's troubles serve as evidence that many are not following His loving way.

Our need to control things, instead of giving others the freedom God has given to all of us, leads us to fear what others might do, and this fear leads us to coerce them. In this life, we will choose; we will either let our feelings lead us to fear and anxiety, or the Word of God to His peace. He promises He will lead us to the most abundant life if we follow Him, Jn 10:9-10, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”

Most things we fear will never happen, so why do we weary ourselves with worry when all we have to do is trust God, Ps 56:4, “In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.” When we put our faith in God, we will not live in fear of anything, including the next disaster, Matt 8:26, “And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.” His peace awaits, but our lack of faith allows doubt and fear to take hold of us. God calls us by faith to His eternal calling, and He is always ready to reach forth His hand, Matt 14:31, “And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”

Our response to fear should be prayer, prayer for His strength to overcome those feelings, Phil 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” As long as we are in the will of God, all things are possible, as they were for David when he faced Goliath, 1 Sam 17:37, “David said moreover, The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said unto David, Go, and the Lord be with thee.” It was David’s faith that allowed him to face Goliath, and it is our faith that will enable us to have peace in this chaotic world, Jn 16:33, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

Most of our anxiety is caused by our continually feeding our fears. It is our negative thoughts and behavior that provide the fuel to sustain our fear, Eph 4:31-32, “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.” God calls us to think and say positive things, Phil 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” We can do this when we honestly believe all things will work out for good, in the end, Rom 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” God's plan will be fulfilled, we just do not know when, Matt 24:36-39, "But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be." Our faith allows us to lay down our anxiety, Phil 4:6-7, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” This peace He offers passeth all understanding, and it is foolishness to those who do not believe, 1 Cor 1:18, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”

Thinking God might have created this pandemic to somehow punish us demonstrates our lack of understanding of God's nature. We needn’t worry about this life, as long as we rest in God’s mercy, Matt 6:34, “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” We will have all eternity to enjoy the abundant life He has promised. For this life is not worth comparing to the eternity He has planned for us, Rom 8:18, " For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us."

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