Updated: Aug 1, 2020
It's hard to even put into words the feelings that many of us experienced when we first learned of the magnitude of the coronavirus pandemic. What we initially underestimated as a virus that would only cause damages that were equivalent to a house fire, quickly evolved into a wildfire that has set this entire world ablaze. While watching the smoke engulf the sky, many of us felt helpless and were overwhelmed with fears of the unknown. How bad will the damage be? Are my loved ones safe? When the smoke clears, will I have a business, church, or home to go back to? In other words, will there be anything left standing after this fire?
Well, the short answer to this question is, yes; but, things will look different. When we think back to what took place during the Chicago fire of 1871, it killed over 300 people, destroyed over 3.3 square miles of the city, and left over 100,000 people homeless.  The damage was undoubtedly severe, but once the dust settled, the people of the land came together and began to rebuild a better Chicago.
Moments like this are life-changing, but I also see them as life-defining. Because even if our house burns down in this fire, it's how we respond on the other end of this that will define our path moving forward.
Over the years, I have learned that times of crisis bring to the surface the character of a man's heart. Many of us have witnessed people fighting each other in the grocery store over toilet paper, or read about the horrific acts of violence committed against our Asian brothers and sisters who have been wrongfully blamed for the spread of this virus. Hate is a powerful thing, but I want you to know that love is stronger.
During this time, God reminds us that we cannot allow the burning flames around us to make us lose sight of the power that is within us. We must lean on our faith like never before, and be a reflection of God's love so those around us can feel the presence of God even in their suffering.
As believers, it is natural for us to have questions for God, as to why would a God who loves us allow this virus to spread on this magnitude? Why didn't God protect my loved one who has been infected and is fighting for their life? Why did God allow my business or church to close? We have the right to ask God these questions, and to lament during a difficult time of loss. But understand, even if we do not receive the answer that we had hoped for, God is with us. God sees every tear we cry and will sustain us in the midst of our suffering.
The word of God tells us, "The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Psalms 34:18.
Standing on this biblical truth gives us strength and helps us to move forward even when we are afraid. The news reports of the rising death tolls, the food shortages, and the economic crisis that we are watching unfold can paralyze us with fear. Yet, knowing that we serve a God who rebuilt the land after the flood of Noah's days and gave the Israelites their daily manna while they wandered in the wilderness serves as our reminder that we will make it through this fire of our time and will rebuild again.
As written in Isaiah 43:2, "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you."
So be encouraged by the word of God today, taking solace in the fact that the flames of this global pandemic might burn the things around you, but at the end of all of this, we will be left standing. And when we make it to the other side, let us commit to being there for one another, to help us rebuild our lives together.
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