By Lauren Pratt
Nothing feels quite as hopelessly frustrating as being out of control. If you’re anything like me, COVID-19 feels like the epitome of that emotion. Times like these cause us to see more clearly how truly dependent we are on our Heavenly Father to take care of everything—physically, emotionally and spiritually. Times like these remind us he is God and we are not. While we may feel this desperation, God invites us to cope with circumstances beyond our control in a way that leads us to grow in humility in three key ways.
Humility Before God
To understand how to live humbly during COVID-19, we have to be willing to submit to God’s providential sovereignty over our lives. Throughout Scripture, we see God can and does exercise his sovereignty over all creation, meaning he chooses what will happen and he does it. However, I use the phrase “providential sovereignty” because God is not some distant Creator who is unattached from his creation. More specifically, he is deeply connected to all people because they are made in his image. He has made a new covenant through Jesus that he both ordained and will keep forever. This covenant gives us hope that in Christ, we are declared right before God and he will never abandon us in our suffering. We don’t serve a God who absentmindedly rules the earth with little care to our suffering. In fact, Christ himself models for us how to walk humbly before God in suffering in Hebrews 12:1-3:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Jesus humbled himself before God to the point of death on a cross for you and for me, and his joy in God the Father anchored his endurance to fulfill God’s redemptive plan. These days, the brokenness of our world is painfully apparent. Place your confidence in Christ, who endured suffering to the point of death for the sin of mankind. Remembering this truth allows us to experience joy in suffering as we recognize our present hope in the gospel and our future hope that one day, we will live with Christ forever in a restored world. As we look to Jesus as the example and see his promises to us throughout Scripture, we realize even in God-ordained suffering there is great hope. If not for the pain of suffering, we would be separated from Christ. Remember, while we cannot understand everything happening in our world today, our good and gracious God is working all things for our good and his glory.
Humility Before His Word
Quarantine has a unique way of bringing to light sin and reveals deceit that spreads like wildfire in our minds and hearts. This season has isolated us more than normal, causing us to become more vulnerable to sin. Vulnerability is like a welcome mat for spiritual warfare, and Satan thrives off of our vulnerability. However, we have a way to fight back.
Coming to God’s Word daily shows us who God is and who we are in light of our relationship with him. His Word gives us the power to discern truth from lies. Likewise, God has given us the resources to connect with others during this time. As the body of Christ, we can form habits of accountability by locking arms in the fight against sin, staying in the Word and forming a regular habit of prayer. This pandemic may have brought us to our knees in desperation, but this present suffering allows us to look to Jesus, the Giver of Life through looking at his Word both personally and corporately. Hebrews 3:12-14 drives the point home:
See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end.
So that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We need to be in God’s Word, but also in God’s Word with other people because in so doing, we fight unbelief.
Humility Before Others
Because we trust in the sovereignty and providence of God, we realize no one and nothing can harm us other than what God allows. Therefore, we ought to love our neighbor unconditionally, not casting judgment on them but grace and mercy as we all seek to live wisely. Let’s not allow our fear dictate how we respond to our neighbors when we disagree with their actions.
As emotions run high, our culture shames those who may handle or think differently about COVID-19. Of course, we ought to help others seek to make wise decisions, but brothers and sisters, please do not use shame as a tactic to bring people into your worldview. Rather, as Paul encourages us in Ephesians 4:15, “speak the truth in love.” Seek to love your neighbor by understanding where they are. What are they fearful, stressed or anxious about right now? Everyone around us is carrying some amount of stress in their lives right now. Do not heap needless burdens onto those who need more than anything to see and experience the love of Christ through you. Let us as the Church be known for our love for others both within and outside of the church. As Paul describes in 2 Corinthians 2:15-16, let us be an aroma of Christ, sweeting the lives of others:
But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.
We have an opportunity to love as Christ loved us during these uncertain times. While we may be quarantined, the gospel certainly isn’t. Let’s model this good news to those around us by the way we walk in humility before God, his Word and others.