If you are like me, this coronavirus pandemic has been a wake-up call. Bible verses that used to sound pleasant and encouraging to my ears now sound life preserving. “Redeeming the time, for the days are evil” has a more urgent ring to it. Verse after verse tells me that today is the day to trust and obey God. This is the day to walk in the Holy Spirit, totally surrendered to God and enjoying his presence. Today is the day to abandon all worry and find comfort in the promises of God. This is the day to follow Jesus as his disciple, observing all that he has commanded me.
Here are a few examples of verses that have caught my attention:
God Provides Daily
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness. —Lamentations 3:22-23
The Bible teaches that God’s love sustains us on a daily basis. Jesus taught his disciples to pray for their daily bread (Matthew 6:11) and then commanded them not to trust in riches but to trust in God, not worrying about tomorrow (Matthew 6:19-34). God supplied miraculously bread from heaven on a daily basis, commanding the Israelites not to gather more manna than they needed each day in order to test them (Exodus 16:4-5; 17-20). Having more or less than our daily needs tests our trust in God and often reveals our true heart condition (Proverbs 30:8-9).
This truth, that God faithfully provides our daily needs, is the key to living each day as God has commanded, trusting in him.
One way that God impresses on our hearts that he is the one who provides all of our needs is to place us into situations that we cannot control. Some people live this reality constantly, but those who live in affluence rarely experience deprivation. Coronavirus may have taken away much of our entertainment and many of our amusements, but, at least for now, few in wealthy societies have a lack of the necessities of life to the point that they experience God’s daily provision in an obvious way as did the Israelites in the desert. Many of us still think we are the ultimate providers for our family:
He gave you manna to eat in the wilderness, something your ancestors had never known, to humble and test you so that in the end it might go well with you. You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth.—Deuteronomy 8:16-18a
God Leads Daily
When we truly believe God will provide for us each day, we are freed from self-dependence and ready to follow Jesus’ leading wherever that may take us. Most of the time, we find that God leads us step by step, day by day. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path (Psalm 119:105).” Ancient lamps did not shine very far down the road.
As a new Christian, I wanted to know God’s “big picture” for my life. It didn’t occur to me that God would ask for daily obedience and that by my obedience he would lead me. I am sad to report that too often in my Christian life, I did not set out each day to accomplish the task in front of me, but instead, wasted time seeking some elusive future existence or worrying about the future. I’m not saying we don’t benefit from planning or having a vision, but that we won’t reach the goal God has for us if we don’t obey and follow him today.
We can be more certain about today. All of us have something we know God wants us to do today. We know of a relationship that needs mending, a neighbor who needs our compassion, a habit we need to form or break. We know these things because God has spoken to us through his Word and the conviction of the Holy Spirit. We make plans for the future, even very good plans, but God may alter them— “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps (Proverbs 16:9).
My wife and I recently had our hopes and plans for the future changed by God. Over the past couple of years, through Sunday sermons, personal study and mentoring by a pastor devoted to making disciples, we knew the Spirit was calling us to make disciples in obedience to the Great Commission. We knew that along with being a disciple of Jesus, making disciples was our main priority and we desired to minister in the Philippines. We knew that getting there might take a year or two, but we hoped to go sooner. So, during the waiting period, we continued to hold Bible studies in our home—the task we knew to do today.
We traveled to the Philippines to see how God was working there. We met with missionaries both in the US and in the Philippines who connected us with a church that reaches out successfully to plant churches that can go on to make more disciples.
But on our return from the Philippines, my health took a turn that would make it difficult, if not impossible, to move to the Philippines. God closed a door. Whether he will re-open it remains to be seen. But whether he does or doesn’t our present outreach remains. Our mentor, who uses technology to disciple people living around the world, told us early on that we can make disciples anywhere. We knew, before going to the Philippines, that our daily mission can be accomplished from any location God chooses for us. So, this closed door didn’t discourage us or change God’s mission for us to carry out. The fact that we can hold our Bible studies online during the coronavirus shelter-in-place order proves again the point that disciples can be made anywhere.
We should all remember how God has led us in the past. He is our Rock! During this coronavirus crisis, let’s not imitate the majority in Israel who didn’t trust God to lead them and care for them even though he had faithfully done so in the past:
Then I said to you, “Do not be terrified; do not be afraid of them. The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, and in the wilderness. There you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place. ”
In spite of this, you did not trust in the Lord your God, who went ahead of you on your journey, in fire by night and in a cloud by day, to search out places for you to camp and to show you the way you should go.—Deuteronomy 1:29-33
Part 2 looks at the believer’s response to God’s faithful provision and guidance.