Paul David Tripp
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:29–31 ESV)
Here Jesus gives us a picture of the extent and specificity of God’s rule over even the most minute details of his world and his children. The immensity of God’s watchful care over his creation is mind-blowing. Over thirteen million birds die every day in the USA, yet God sees, knows, counts, and controls every one. He numbers the hairs on our heads, a number that defies our own ability to grasp. It’s a mind-boggling, counterintuitive view of the universe and our small lives in the middle of it. And if that is not enough, this passage goes on to remind us that in the heart of our Lord, who sits on the throne, we are of far greater value than the sparrows.
So when I wake up in the morning, and things appear to be out of control as we hunker down trying to stay safe, I remind myself that my Father is in complete control and he is righteous, powerful, wise, loving, faithful, gracious, and good. I will be wise in the face of danger, but I will not give way to fear. No pandemic has the power to negate God’s promises, to interrupt his rule, or to separate me from his sovereign and loving rule. I do not need to deny reality to have peace of heart, because I and everything around me is in good hands.
Before this pandemic, there was (and remains) God’s pan-promise, “The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14 ESV). I am grateful to be reminded that the coronavirus has an expiration date, but the gospel doesn’t. All of history is tied to our Father’s commitment to have a pan-national bride for his beloved Son, and to make all things new through Jesus. The God of floods and rainbows, tanking markets and rich grace knows what he is doing. Our calling is to love and trust him and serve our neighbors and the nations.
Edward T. Welch
Gideon and the angel of the Lord in Judges 6 and 7 were on my Bible reading schedule today. The story begins with Midian’s horrible oppression of Israel. They raided Israelite crops to the point where the people had no food and were living in caves. Then the story moves to the triune God who hears and delivers the people through a thoroughly unimpressive man named Gideon, who begins as a coward and then gets worse.
Here is what was impressed on me from the passage. God comes very close. A key figure is the angel of the Lord, who looks a lot like Jesus. He waits for Gideon under a tree; he is not so much sent from God as much as he has authority in himself, and his first words are, “The Lord is with you” (6:12). When he disappears, his visit is summarized as, “The Lord is Peace” (6:24). There is, indeed, some drama that follows Jesus’s appearance to Gideon—three hundred ram’s horns are enough to rattle a sleeping army—but Jesus’s presence and peace are plenty for me to feast on today.
My prayer: Jesus, you are Immanuel—God with me—and you speak words that comfort the soul.
In the last week, my mind has been going to Jesus’s words to his troubled disciples in John 16:33. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Wow! What relevant words. Yes, in this world of COVID-19 and a crashing stock market, it hits home that we live in a troubled world. But what hits home, even more, is that this world is not my home.
And surely this world is not our source of peace. Jesus is. “In me you may have peace.” We can rest in the peace of God because through Christ we are at peace with God. When our greatest fear—the fear about our eternal destiny—is settled in Christ, then we can face life’s other fears face-to-face with Christ.
Jesus is not only our source of peace; he is the source of all power. So, we can “take heart!” because Jesus has “overcome the world.” He has overcome the world of COVID-19 and our dwindling retirement accounts. He has overcome the world of sin. He has overcome the world of suffering. He has even overcome death. We live because he lives. Now that’s something to “take heart” about.
Rose Marie Miller
As I sit in my bedroom on the second floor, bruised and in pain from a fall down the stairs, my life looks very narrow. Meals are brought to me. Getting around is a struggle. Today the UK joined me in lockdown as we all grapple with COVID-19. Life has narrowed for us all. Psalm 91 speaks to us all:
“Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of the night, or the arrow that flies by day” (vv. 3–5 NIV).
Falls, old age, COVID-19, job loss, falling stocks, stuck at home with children, the Lord has the same message to his people through all of it, “Do not fear. I am your refuge. I will cover you with my feathers. I am with you.” God bless.
“Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—
the Most High, who is my refuge—
no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
no plague come near your tent.” (Psalm 91:9–10 ESV)
The Bible provides the comfort we need in all of life’s situations. This includes the fearful uncertainty which currently surrounds us regarding COVID-19. The writer of Psalm 91 runs to the Lord to find his refuge from the deadly pestilence that stalks in the darkness. So must we, in the face of our present fears, run to the Lord. We have this sure hope—God can protect us so that no plague comes near our tent (vs 10). But even if those who trust the Lord should succumb to the plague and pass from this life, we will wake up in the presence of the Lord in eternal glory. So whether in life or death, we need not fear, for we find refuge in the shadow of his wings.
Years ago when one of our children was diagnosed with a genetic disease, I listened closely to those who also had ill children. The same theme emerged— “take one day at a time” and “just get through today.” This one-day-at-a-time theme permeates the whole Bible. God wanted his people to learn this way of living as they trekked through the wilderness. There was bread provided—manna—but it was only good for one day. Jesus takes up this theme when he says,
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:33–34 ESV)
What does Jesus want us to remember? All we have is today, and today we can ask for and receive the help we need from our God, who controls today, tomorrow, and forever. These are lessons that I need to constantly learn and relearn. So today I listen to the birds sing and remember that my heavenly Father watches over them. I look at the sky and remember that my heavenly Father is powerful enough to create something from nothing. I remember his care and his power and I take heart—today.
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6–7 ESV)
Because of God’s disposition toward us (“he cares for you”), we are invited to load him up with every single anxiety, concern, and worry we have. He’s not annoyed by them, and he doesn’t roll his eyes because he thinks we are neurotic or being ridiculous. Rather, he wants us to give him all of them, especially the anxieties we may feel embarrassed about or haven’t told others.
The “mighty hand of God” refers to his saving power to deliver his people from Egypt (Exodus 3:19; 32:11, Deuteronomy 4:34; 5:15). Because God is pleased to exert his force to deliver us from his and our enemies, we respond by humbling ourselves by asking him for help and living in gratitude and trust. Because he has been faithful in the past, we know we can trust him for the present and the future. COVID-19 is an enemy, but it is no match for the mighty hand of God.
“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.” (2 Corinthians 4:8–10)
This passage reminds me of the basis for Christian hope: union with Jesus. Because I am united with Christ, I have (by faith) an inner resiliency and buoyancy that can steady me in the midst of trying circumstances. Like others, I find myself afflicted, perplexed, persecuted, and knocked down by the various concerns and uncertainties of a global pandemic; yet because of the hope of the gospel, I am not crushed or despairing or forsaken or destroyed. The Scriptures remind me that as a Christian, I carry in my body the death and resurrection of Jesus. I am an in-Christ person! And that changes everything.