Easter is quickly approaching, and it seems we’ll still be under social distancing at that time. I know for many Christians they may have never spent an Easter Sunday not in church, and I was reminded this morning of an Easter Sunday I spent at the hospital bedside years ago. I recall being disappointed that I wasn’t in the house of God that holiday, and it was then that the Lord spoke something very strongly to my heart.
He said, my resurrection lives in you.
With all the happenings globally as of late, I am reminded of His Spirit at work in us. And with all the common reactions to this pandemic, I am reminded of some lyrics I heard in a song recently.
It said, God isn’t hard to find.
I suppose that seems way off base to many people, especially lately. After all, so many times God seems silent. When tragedy strikes, like now, He can especially seem distant. But when I heard those lyrics the other morning I was hit by the truth of it. You see, God isn’t hard to find. It’s just hard for us to do the locating. We’re too distracted by the world to realize that He is here with us all along.
It’s not hard to see the fear out there. It’s not hard to feel it yourself. I realized after a four day stretch at the hospital bedside that I was overwhelmed with the very realness of all this. I was inundated with COVID-19 statistics, the ever-changing instructions for how to deal with it all. Uncertain and evolving information from the CDC and those in power above me made my head spin. I discovered pretty quickly that I had to be intentional in my time with Jesus, because everything else vying for my focus was pretty intense. Not only were the worries of having enough food to eat there, or how the economy would suffer, but also the real threat of taking home a dangerous illness to my family.
This morning, and last night, I was drawn to the book of Matthew. I read it before bed, but also again this morning,
Matthew 16:15-16 (NIV)
15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
As Easter approaches I’m reminded of the days leading up to the Crucifixion. Jesus enters Jerusalem with much fanfare and praise, the crowds singing and proclaiming Him a king. Yet five days later the same words of “King of the Jews,” were used to find Him guilty and sentenced to death. Public opinion was a shifty one, indeed, and it’s in Matthew 16 we see Jesus gently leading Peter to the realization that it’s not what the crowd says that matters.
Who do you say I am?
This is becoming a question that Jesus asks us all. Who is the Lord to us during such a time as this? Is He an angry God, distant, pouring a plague on His people, only to forget them as they suffer? Or is He the Messiah, the Savior of the world?
In the midst of COVID-19 and the fallout of this pandemic, it’s hard not to be afraid. We see the news, the growing numbers of infected, and of course, the personal stories and accounts coming from those working in the thick of this illness. Some of us see dwindling bank balances and empty cupboards. Others see plummeting stocks, or death up close and personal. I’m reminded again of our dear disciple Peter. He knew, before it all went down, that Jesus was the Son of God. He spoke it out loud in faith, yet we all remember what happened before the cock crowed three times. He denied Jesus. It’s a disappointing turn of events in scripture, yet Jesus still fulfilled what He spoke in Matthew 16. He still built the church on the rock that was Peter. That’s good news for us!
When Jesus spoke about building the church, with a mere man who He knew would deny Him down the road, He spoke this.
The gates of Hell will not overcome it!
Today, we face the straining of Hell coming against us. A spirit of death and sickness come in a virus form, and a spirit of fear tries to make us deny (or forget) the power of our God, but Jesus promises that evil does not win. It can not overcome us!
Another verse comes to me as I write this post.
Psalm 121:1-2 (NIV)
I lift up my eyes to the hills– where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.
As believers, we can find God. It’s not hard, after all. He is here in us. He has not forgotten us, and actually has promised our victory. He doesn’t want us in fear, denying the power He gives us to overcome problems, but He does still provide us victory, knowing we will have our doubts. Today, I would remind you to ask of yourself the same question that Jesus asked Peter.
Who do you say I am?
Is He the rising infection rates or empty store shelves? Is He the dwindling economy or uncertain future? Is He the depressing news reports or scary Facebook posts? No! None of this is a surprise or uncertain to our God. He is the Messiah, the Savior of the world, the Great I Am, and He will! Be encouraged.