Remember: a Bible beatitude describes a blessing to someone God honors. Jesus offered nine in his Sermon on the Mount. The eight beatitudes in Revelation conferred God’s blessing on his people in the province of Asia towards the end of the first century. Facing the danger of persecution for believing in Jesus, they needed to know that God ruled as sovereign over all historical circumstances. Not even the power of the Roman Empire existed outside his will.
Remember: the twin beatitudes in Revelation 1:3 offered two challenges to God’s people. First, he challenged them—us—to read his word. In the context, the Revelation of John. In a larger sense, the Bible. Second, he challenged them—us—to embody his word.
Remember: The Bible’s message is always transformational, changing us from what we are to what God wants us to be. Relating that to the coronavirus—COVID-19—what is the message we now need to possess and share with people who are afraid and uncertain?
Well, what was God’s message in 1918 when, in some 18 months, 20 million people died world-wide? And perhaps 40-50 million died before the epidemic vanished?
What was God’s message in the 17th century when the Black Plague wiped out ¾ of Europe and Asia? People in both epidemics took the precaution we’re taking now: wearing masks, not congregating, taking nostrums by mouth to protect themselves. In 1918, even washing their hands.
Whatever the historical circumstance, God wants his people to read his word and put into practice what it teaches about how to react when life throws a tantrum. In essence, he now as then, wants us to embody the power he gives us to think and behave triumphantly in any danger, distress, crisis, epidemic or loss.
This time of unrest offers Christians the opportunity to be witnesses: of God’s peace instead of our anxieties; of God’s assurance instead of our fears; of God’s forgiveness instead of our guilt; of God’s faithfulness instead of life’s vagaries. God in Christ being the difference.
Remember: Bible texts from both testaments strengthen our faith and increase our courage, whatever we face. Read Psalm 23, Isaiah 7:2-4, 9, Jeremiah 9:23-24, Luke 21:9-11, 19, I Corinthians 2:13-16, Psalm 91:1-2, 5-7, John 14:1, John 16:33, Philippians 4:6-7. Just a few of many more Bible texts that arouse boldness and bravery in God’s people when trouble rises.
Remember: God overcomes life, whether it’s benign or bestial. He is always ABLE if we have faith enough to trust him!
Remember Christians: while unbelievers give way to fear, God empowers us to be stalwart in faith in the Son of God who loved us and gave himself for us.
And Remember Christians: that is the message God wants us to share with others: “Why be afraid when we can instead be fearless by having faith in God and his Christ?” End Part I