When the pandemic ends, when the cure is found, when the world is busy telling us who the true heroes of the story are, will we find ourselves worshipping at the altar of human achievement or bowed in reverence to the God who heals our diseases?
Our daily struggle between faith in God and faith in human ability has been magnified by our current crisis. Never in our lifetimes has there been such a powerful universal sense of helplessness and great efforts are being made to subdue this unwanted feeling.
We do thank God that work is being done to find a cure, but while we wait we might be tempted to think that the fate of the world rests in the hands of politicians and of those working hard in labs everywhere. We might even think that if we could just throw more people and money at the problem, a great human achievement might come about.
But overcoming this crisis is not ultimately dependent on human intelligence, effort or ingenuity. And if we think it is, we are in great danger of tripping over our own pride right into the next available ditch.
Not By Numbers But By Faith
In Judges 7 Gideon assembles a significant fighting force to come against the army of another nation. He’s done his homework. He knows the numbers and figures he has the resources to defeat the opposition. But then God says this: “The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel boast over me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’” – Judges 7:2 (ESV)
God sees a danger in all of this human calculation. God sees that if Gideon wins by the numbers, his men will be tempted to think that their human power and effort were what mattered most. Their faith in themselves will be strengthened instead of their faith in God.
So God reduces Gideon’s army to a fraction. He does this so they will have no reason to boast of their own strength. And Gideon goes along, showing his faith in God’s power. When they defeat their enemies it will be obvious to everyone that the power behind the victory was not of human origin. It will be obvious that God’s power won the battle.
Action Still Required
And yet Gideon’s men still engage the fight; human effort is still involved. Could God win the battle without them? Yes, of course. So why doesn’t he? We might ask the same questions about COVID-19. Why did God allow COVID-19 to spread in the first place? Could he cure it in an instant? And if he can, why doesn’t he?
These are questions worth exploring, but while we are exploring them let’s not neglect to notice that among all the other good that God is bringing about through this crisis, he is also presently working through human beings to bring this disease to an end. And the people God is working through, many of whom do not understand (or perhaps, even believe) this are probably filled with a great sense of purpose right now. How much more, then, would those God is working through who DO understand this be filled with a sense of purpose, honour and gratitude that the Creator of the universe saw fit to use their efforts in the process?
When God includes us in his work we are filled with faith and confidence. What greater source of confidence could we have than to know that the God who created and rules over everything fights for us? And yet we often succumb to fear and try to fight these battles with only our own power. God desires for us to know that we can’t save ourselves. Not only does he desire for us to know, he sees to it that we are often reminded.
Consider the current crisis his latest reminder. When we come to the end of this pandemic, we will most certainly be tempted to say, “Our own hands have saved us!” That would be an enormous mistake. When the pandemic ends, when the cure is found, when the world is busy telling us who the true heroes of the story are, will we find ourselves worshipping at the altar of human achievement or bowed in reverence to the God who heals our diseases?
Perhaps he is waiting for us to humble ourselves, recognize our own inadequacy in fighting this virus, and cry out to him to do what only he can do. Are we willing to do that?