The Unanswerable Question
We are going to ask a question that we cannot answer. Still, it is the elephant in the room. Why does God allow things like pandemics to wrack the earth? Or we might ask what is His purpose for this? We simply cannot answer these questions. Paul says,
“For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor.” “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and how inscrutable His ways.” Romans 11:33-34
God Can and Does Use These Times
We can’t answer these questions, yet we can say this for sure. When things like this happen God can use them for His will and purpose. These things certainly get our attention. They remind us of just how helpless we are. They force us to consider our own mortality. When things happen like this for many people, they are forced to consider spiritual things and their own spiritual lives. We have seen this in history. We still remember 9/11. After that event church attendance went way up. I am sure some of you still remember World War II and what it was like then. We have all heard about the Great Depression and how that effected people. God can and does use these things to drive us to Him. For, in times like these there is nowhere else to flee. Sometimes He uses these things to strengthen our faith. Sometimes He uses these things to open hard, dark hearts. For when we are oh so helpless and vulnerable, we are more open to listen than we are when everything is going our way.
God Brings His Message in These Times
We can be sure of this. While God may have His reasons for allowing this pandemic, one outcome may be to bring the message of Jesus Christ to people who would not listen, did not pay attention or did not think they needed it in the past. So, we hear the words of God through Peter, “Always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and respect.” 1 Peter 3:15
God Sends Us in These Times
Peter says this in a different way in the words we heard last week.
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession (this is who we are and now what are we to do) that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9
Now if God is going to use this pandemic to bring more people to faith in Jesus Christ, who is He going to use to get the message out? After reading these two passages, the answer to that is pretty clear. He wants to use us.
An Ideal Time to Talk About Jesus
We probably haven’t thought much about this. But have you thought that this is the ideal time, the God-given time to talk to a friend or family member about Jesus Christ? Maybe now they are willing to listen as we are in this mess. Or maybe it is time for parents to use family time to tell their kids just how important faith and hope in Jesus Christ actually is. Tell them how God has worked in their lives. The kids will love it.
Imagine the Blessings
We just don’t think about these opportunities. These can be the blessings that God works in the midst of this tough time. Imagine what could happen to change someone’s life, someone you love. Imagine how your kids could get stronger in their faith.
Our Baptism Gives Us All We Need
Our first response is always the same. Or let’s say our first excuse is always “I don’t know how!” Remember who you are. You belong to God. You were claimed by God the day you were baptized.
“Baptism…now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities and powers having been subjected to Him.” 1 Peter 3:21-22
Baptism makes us who we are. Baptism give us the hope we have. Baptism gives us the strength to give a defense for the hope that is in us.
Hope is Your “Content” and “Confidence”
If Jesus Christ can descend into hell and proclaim His victory over death, Satan and hell itself, then be assured He can give you the words and the strength to proclaim the hope that you have. That hope is both the content of what you say and the strength for you to say it. Jesus Christ is risen from the dead and because of His victory all who believe in Him will live forever no matter what may happen in this world.
Share Your Hope
There are millions of people that need to hear this hope right now. You are not responsible for getting the message to them all. But God may give you the opportunity, the blessing, of sharing the hope you have with those around you.
“Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and respect.” 1 Peter 3:13-15
Hope is Powerful
As the baptized people of God, filled with the hope of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, “proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” Your hope is the very thing to talk about and the very power to say it. Amen