I don’t know if this is a scientific fact, but I would guess most of us thrive on normal life patterns and routines. Now, these patterns and routines have been deeply disrupted in the wake of COVID-19. The Coronavirus has seemingly left no one untouched. Schools and universities have closed and moved to online learning. Parents, if they are able, now do their best to work from home. Restaurants are serving curb-side pickup and drive-thru only. Sports have been suspended. Churches have moved to worshipping entirely online, implementing tele-care for pastoral care, Bible study through social media streams, and adjusting mission ministries to protect from the spread of the disease. Grocery stores and their suppliers are struggling to keep shelves stocked. Healthcare workers who are on the frontlines are struggling to keep up with the demands. The concern of spreading the disease has brought about the new norm of “social distancing,” “quarantine” and “isolation.” Looking back on the last few weeks, it would seem that uncertainty reigns supreme.
When the world, as we have come to know it, crumbles into uncertainty we can choose to despair, or we can choose to hope in the God who most certainly loves us. While we need to practice social distancing to help combat the spread of COVID-19, God does not practice distancing, of any kind, from us. John’s gospel tells us, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (1:14, NIV). Later in his gospel, John reminds us that God broke down the distance between us and him because he of His great love for us. John writes those well-known words, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (3:16). God has broken down the distance by becoming one of us in Jesus Christ. He broke this distance because he loves us. This is good news!
But there is even more good news! The word translated into English as world in John 3:16 comes from the Greek word kosmos. By using the word kosmos, John is stating the truth that God’s love is for everyone. God demonstrates his extraordinary love by sending his one and only Son for everyone and all creation. So, unless you exist outside of the kosmos, which is impossible, you are loved supremely by God. In times of uncertainty, we may fall prey to the idea that God has somehow forgotten us. The gospel message is that we are never forgotten by God, never unloved by God and never abandoned by God. We can be certain of God’s love for us even as we live in uncertain times.
While we can be assured of God’s love there is also a positive uncertainty of just how much God loves us. Paul illustrates this in his letter to the Ephesian Christians when he prays for them with the following words, “And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully” (Ephesians 3:18-19, NLT). God’s love is a certainty, but his love is so vast it certainly cannot be measured!
When I was growing up in Northeast Arkansas, I would sometimes find myself attending revival services where the question would be put to the congregation, “Have you made a decision for Christ?” While God does call upon us to respond to his grace, we need to remember that the decision-making doesn’t start with us. Long before we were making decisions about God, God made a decision about us. He decided to love us, and he sent his only Son as the ultimate revelation of his love. So, in these days when we are preoccupied with uncertainly, take time to dwell on the fact that God’s love towards you is unquestionable.
In Christ’s love,
P.S.—If you want to follow me on Instagram @stevenkpulliam I try to do a daily post based on God’s love toward us. Recently, I have been posting from my reading of Henri Nouwen’s You Are the Beloved.