April 7, 2020
The Lord always has many purposes for the things that he does, and one of those purposes is certainly the sanctification of his people. On our call on Sunday, Pastor Stan referenced one of my favorite hymns, How Firm a Foundation. That hymn has a few lines that have been on my mind:
Fear not, I am with you, O be not dismayed;
for I am your God, and will still give you aid;
I’ll strengthen you, help you, and cause you to stand,
upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.
When through the deep waters I call you to go,
the rivers of sorrow shall not overflow;
for I will be with you, your troubles to bless,
and sanctify to you your deepest distress.
When through fiery trials your pathway shall lie,
my grace, all-sufficient, shall be your supply;
the flame shall not hurt you; I only design
your dross to consume and your gold to refine.
These words are a reminder that, not only is the Lord with us in the midst of trials, but he is also at work to purify us, refining us like a blacksmith would burn off the impurities of precious metals to bring out their beauty.
This year, as it seems is the case with everything else in our lives, our Easter rhythms are disrupted and different. And yet, I think this provides us a special opportunity to reflect on the promises of the gospel and the hope that we have in Christ.
The coronavirus is a clear reminder that sin has a broad, sweeping impact on our world. All of creation has been subject to the curse of the fall (Rm. 8:19-23). Not only sin, but death, sickness, and suffering have entered into our world as the result of our rebellion against God. In a perfect world, there would be no coronavirus. Its presence is a painful reminder of the reality of sin – we indeed are sinful people, living in a broken world.
And yet, there is also great hope as we look forward to Good Friday and Easter Sunday. The same Lord who created this world also sustains this world, upholding the universe by the word of his power (Heb. 1:3). And more than that, he entered into this world, taking our flesh upon himself, living a perfect life in our place and then taking our sins upon himself to die in our place. He then rose again triumphantly three days later.
The Scriptures make clear that through the blood of Christ, not only are we reconciled to God and forgiven, but that Jesus has begun a new work of creation. He is in the process of reconciling and restoring all things to himself (Col. 1:20). One day, we will dwell with our Lord forever in the new heavens and the new earth. As John tells us:
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 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. 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.” (Rev. 21:1-4)
Friends, though some days it might feel like it, this most assuredly will not last forever. This virus will come to an end, and when it does it will be a reminder that sin and death will also one day come to an end once and for all. Let us look forward to that day in hope this week as we look back on the cross and the empty tomb.