A note to suburban Americans looking for answers:
I’ve read a handful of posts that have God, speaking in first person, announcing that He has been angered by America’s infatuation with celebrities, sports, progress, money, and a host of other “idols”. Through these posts, God tells us that with His latest invention, the Coronavirus, He will be bringing all our idolatrous behavior to a crashing halt! That will prove to suburban Americans who is really God Almighty!
I’m not so sure about that.
I’m not so sure that God is killing people in third world poverty with a virus that their frail health and even weaker healthcare systems cannot come close to combatting, so that suburban Americans will slow down and scale back to two travel sports for their kids, instead of four. I think this idea of God’s view of suburban Americans is just as flawed as our idolatry.
We are guilty of worshipping money. We are guilty of worshipping sports. Many suburban Americans literally don’t know what to do without youth sports right now. We do turn to many of those things for hope and meaning. We value those things over God, it’s true. We are guilty of spending way more than we need to on all sorts of over-the-top entertainment while 20,000 children die every single day of completely preventable causes. We’re guilty of a lot of things.
We’re also guilty of thinking we’re so central to God’s narrative that He would kill tens-of-thousands of people who are not guilty of those things just to get our attention.
Let me offer an alternative view.
We don’t know if God caused this pandemic. We do know that there are things we can learn from the situation. God has certainly allowed this. God can and will use this, if we allow Him.
In the Scriptures, when God unleashed a massive corrective calamity on humans, He announced it well in advance; often decades. He was also very specific. People always had a chance to change BEFORE the calamity! I didn’t hear anyone stand up and say, “A virus is coming. It will shut down everything you hold dear. By this, you will know…”. No prophet declared an ultimatum before this hit.
Romans 8:28 promises us, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
We do not know if God caused this. We know He will use it for good. It is way more helpful for us to approach any setback asking questions like, “How can I allow God to use this for good?”, or “What can I learn from this?”, or, “How can I grow from this?”. Those questions are helpful. Those questions are transformational.
There WILL BE good things that come from this setback! Families will reconnect. Hopefully, we will make some lasting changes. Hopefully, we will NOT go back to the furious pace of life we had just two months ago. Hopefully, we will live more grateful lives; more thankful for our truck drivers, farmers, nurses, and even an unlimited supply of toilet paper that is usually available. Hopefully we’ll learn the importance of an emergency reserve over an updated bathroom. There are many good things we can learn from this! God can use this!
Let’s just be careful putting America at the center. Let’s be careful announcing to our friends, and the world, that we think God caused this and it was ultimately about us! God loves suburban Americans! However, we are NOT His prized possession above the under-resourced. I seriously doubt that God would crush the poor, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems, in order to correct the thinking and actions of those with more resources than they know what to do with and who are in great health.
Please consider this alternate narrative. I think it’s more helpful and useful.
Stay separate! Wash your hands! Make some phone calls to friends you’ve forgotten about. Let a pot of coffee percolate, instead of turning to the one-cup stuff! Use this time for reconnecting with a God who loves you and has been waiting for your attention. Ask Him, “What can I learn from this?”. He will use this for good!