Grace Extending



Many people today are looking for answers. Pandemics, like most crises, have a way of driving us in that direction. But many seem hungry for more than just health advice, social guidelines, and/or up-to-date statistics. As important as that kind of information is, many seem hungry for the kind of hope and help that doctors, scientists, and political leaders simply cannot provide. I would offer up that these people are looking for what we might call spiritual answers.

That collection of ancient scriptures we call the Bible is (and for thousands of years has been) widely recognized as a place to find spiritual answers. Whatever your spiritual leanings (or lack thereof), I invite you to consider the relevance of the Bible for “such a time as this” (Esther 4:14).

Let me share with you seven Bible verses/passages that speak to seven realities, realities that should seem especially relevant in the midst of our current crisis:

1. Utter Fragility

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—[14] yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. (James 4:13–14)

Think about it: our planet is at the mercy of a microbe. Sure, when things are going well, it's easy to think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think; to think we have things under control; that we are stronger, smarter, and safer than we really are. But what if this pandemic is one more way in which God is reminding you that you're simply “a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes”. Sound depressing? It shouldn't, not when we realize that humbling us in this way is part of God's process of 'preparing the soil' of our hearts.

2. Squishy Foundations

And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. [27] And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” (Matthew 7:26–27)

These are the words of Jesus. Notice how Jesus identifies our typical, life-building foundation: “sand”. When we are not building on what God has revealed, by default, we're building on spiritual 'sand'. In the midst of this pandemic, many things that once seemed so solid and so sure to so many people are like sand; that is, it's all feeling very squishy under our feet. Don't get me wrong. We can and should be thankful for our great institutions and innovations. But they are not the ultimate foundation we want and need. No one likes finding cracks in their foundation. But that discovery can prevent a devastating collapse, right?

3. Shackling Mortality

Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, [Jesus] himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, [15] and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. (Hebrews 2:14–15)

If pressed, everyone has to acknowledge our mortality as human beings. But that doesn't mean we're interested in dwelling on death. And yet, did you know there is, in fact, a healthy way to dwell on death? It involves honestly meditating on the realities this passage reveals: “the power of death”, the “fear of death”, and that “through death” (that is, his death on the cross) Jesus can set you spiritually free. Today's virus has caused many people to recognize these very shackles as they feel the grip of that same fear. Yes, there is a spiritual Enemy who has and will use this against us. But wonderfully, God wants to use this recognition for our eternal good.

4. Undeniable 'Oughts'

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." (John 10:10)

Speaking of this spiritual Enemy, his agenda (according to Jesus) is gruesomely simple: “to steal and kill and destroy”. As global mortality rates are argued about on the nightly news, we shouldn't forget sin's mortality rate: 100%. Living me-centered lives in a God-centered universe has, is, and will always lead us to physical and spiritual death. But we sense things ought to be different, don't we? Even though viruses are a natural phenomenon, deep down, they don't feel natural. No. We yearn for life, and honor those who fight to protect it. Did you know Jesus did exactly that, more powerfully than anyone ever has?

5. Incomparable Peace

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." (John 14:27)

Even though Jesus left our world two-thousand years ago, returning to the presence of God the Father, he left many things behind for those who trust him. One of the gifts he left was peace. Sure, some today only long for the peace of mind that will come with a vaccine and falling infection rates. But the “peace” Jesus offers is not peace “as the world gives”; that is, it isn't 'crisis-to-crisis' peace; situational; temporary. The peace Christ generously gives to a “troubled” heart is peace with our Creator. It is reassurance that if we are in God's hands today, no matter the difficulties we face, we are eternally safe.

6. 'Unstealable' Joy

"So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you." (John 16:22) 

Just as Jesus offered his followers 'third day' or Easter (that is, resurrection) comfort in the face of his impending death, so too does he offer us 'new day' comfort in the face of our present sorrows. There is a new day coming, and it will be fully realized when Jesus returns to our world. That new day is guaranteed, and Jesus' resurrection from the dead is both God's preview and proof it will happen. Today, many who taste joy for a time find it stolen by the latest headline. But thankfully, there is no earthly crisis that can take from us the heavenly joy inspired by God's unstoppable work in Christ.

7. Unimaginable 'Normal'

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. [4] He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:3–4)

Are you someone who just wants things to 'get back to normal'? If you are, consider what these verses tell us about the new 'normal' God has in store for those who love him. There will be no 'social distancing' when it comes to God and his people; “neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore”. And amazingly, “death shall be no more”. Shouldn't this unimaginable, but divinely-promised reality be more important to us than returning to the bent, broken 'normal' we have in mind? Maybe God's 'pandemic plan' for your life is to place in you just this kind of longing.

Seven verses/passages. Seven realities, brought into focus by today's crisis. Taken together, these tell us a story about life, a story that is far bigger and far better than anything people could dream up. And it's a story to which each us must respond. Yes, some will reject this story and return to their old way of making sense of the world. But others will discover God's tender mercies in today's troubles. They will find spiritual answers. They will realize and savor the fact that, surprisingly, God used a virus to bring them ultimate healing.




Excellent choice of verses. Wonderful commentary. I can't get away from ; sin's mortality rate: 100%
And the thought of returning to our bent , broken normal. I don't want normal anymore.
Thank you for challenging me this evening.
We are grateful Bryce for these 7 powerful reminders from the living manual of Life,the Bible. We must now apply ourselves to using these spiritual lessons in our daily lives which offers many folks a stern challenge. I will do my level best to make the essence of these biblical words a central part of my prayers as I deal with the challenge of keeping focus on Christ and what only he can do for us. God bless all !
Fear is such a huge component of this crisis. Relating the Bible verses to this crisis was extremely calming to me. I have repeatedly said that God must be so angry with us and that is why these things are happening. My faith has and never will waiver from believing that we are all in Gods hands and hopefully we all learn a teachable lesson and not be so fearful.Thank you Bryce for your loving, insightful guidance for all of us.

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