There is a ‘meme’ in popular culture that the Chinese word for crisis (危机) can be understood by its two component words, danger and opportunity. And that, by extension, every crisis holds opportunity. While it turns out that this is a ‘lost in translation’ interpretation, it has morphed into popular culture to the point where there may be no turning back. Nevertheless, I believe the principle holds true, and I like it.
And I got to thinking about it in the context of the coronavirus pandemic. What does such a thing mean in the arc of God’s providence? What is the opportunity? I was struck by two messages to the faithful delivered in two corners of the globe this last Sabbath.
The first was delivered by Jonathan Prince, Senior Pastor, New Creation Church, Singapore. His message was entitled 7 Things God Wants You To Know During The Virus Attack. The overriding Word of God for the message was Psalm 31. The 7 things are:
1. Don’t be afraid (“Do not be afraid, Abram, for I will protect you, and your reward will be great.” Genesis 15:1 NKJV).
2. Refresh yourself with His love (“…and that You love them as much as You love me.” John 17:23 NLT).
3. Trust in His faithfulness (But the Lord is faithful; 2Thessalonians 3:3 KJV).
4. Be at rest (Psalm 91:1 NLT).
5. Be led by the Spirit, not motivated by fear.
6. Keep your focus on Jesus.
7. Death has no hold on you (Romans 5:17).
The second message was delivered half a world away by Craig Groeschel, Senior Pastor, Life Church, Edmond, Oklahoma. Of note is that Craig was fresh out of self-quarantine, having been exposed to the virus on a recent trip to Germany. Here is a summary of Craig’s message which was entitled Not Afraid, with NOT being the operative word:
How do we respond to the coronavirus disease? In a time of crisis and panic, it is wise not to project out into the future. It’s always best to make decisions based on what we know today, in this moment. As disciples of Jesus, we are not to be conformed to this world. Three ways we are not like this world:
1. We live by faith, not by fear (“Do not let your hearts be troubled.” John 14:1, NIV, “I am leaving you with a gift, peace of mind and heart.” John 14:27, NLT, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear…” 2 Timothy 17:2 NLT).
2. We are sacrificial, not selfish. Our fallen nature is selfish, but our redeemed nature is not selfish. (“Don’t be selfish…” Philippians 2:3 NLT, Acts 2:44-45 NIV, Acts 2:46 NIV)
3. We shine the light, we do not hide it (Matthew 5:14 NIV).
Remember, God does not do the one handed clap, hitting His forehead and saying “Oops. Didn’t see that coming.”
The full message can be seen here.