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When something ‘bad’ happens to us we do not immediately think about what ‘good’ might come out of it. We focus on surviving, on getting through to the other side – through the pain, through the difficulty, through the frustrations – to a place where everything will be ‘right’ again, and we can get on with our lives. Sometimes, when it is all over, we can look back and realize that, even though it was ‘bad’, some ‘good’ did result from it.

God assures us that in all things he works for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28), and many might be wondering what ‘good’ can God possibly be working in this pandemic that has so rapidly encompassed the world?

If we think about it, there are a few ‘good’ things that are obvious even now while we are still in the clutches of this ‘bad’ thing. Here is one of them:

COVID-19 has reminded us of our human weakness, our human vulnerability. Although we like to think of ourselves as self-sufficient, independent and autonomous, (and our atheistic, materialistic world wants us to believe that that is what we are), this is not the way God made us. We were not created to depend on ourselves; we were created to depend on God. He is our Source and he is our Goal. Our unique identity, dignity and significance as humans derive from the fact that God created us in his image. An ‘image’ is always dependent on the reality it reflects. It is nothing apart from that reality.

When we cast God aside or leave God behind, either in terms of what we believe or in terms of how we live, we are actually diminishing ourselves. In seeking autonomy and independence, as Adam and Eve did in Eden, we end up losing that dependant relationship with God on which our human identity depends.

In the Old Testament era the Israelites repeatedly turned their backs on the living God and put man-made idols in his place. Today people have turned their backs on the living God and put themselves in his place.

God’s challenge through Isaiah was quite pointed: God alone is powerful. God alone is all-knowing. There is no one like him. No one to compare him to.

‘“To whom will you compare me?
Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One...
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.’ (Isaiah 40:27, 28)

God alone is worthy of our trust.

Even the best efforts of humans are often proved inadequate. Even the most faithful of friends can fail. Even our own deepest commitments can weaken and dissolve. Because our efforts, our friends and our commitments are limited. Only God can be trusted. Because only God is unlimited.

As Karl Barth wisely wrote last century:

‘We ourselves shall never be true to ourselves. Our human path is, as such, a path from one disloyalty to another... In God alone is there faithfulness, and faith is the trust that we may hold to Him, to His promise and to His guidance. To hold to God is to rely on the fact that God is there for me, and to live in this certainty.’ Dogmatics in Outline, pp18,19.

COVID-19’s reminder of our human dependence on God is a good thing... if we take it to heart.

© Rosemary Bardsley 2020