Friday, April 03, 2020

God Can Use You Now in the Face of Coronavirus

During my quiet time with God this morning, I read the Old Testament book of Judges 5:1-7:25.

The book of Judges tells the story of God's people, ancient Israel before that people had kings. From time to time in this era, God would raise judges, people who would provide the leadership needed at the moment. They often were military figures like Deborah.

Among the most reluctant to heed God's call to be a judge was a man named Gideon.

Israel had fallen into idolatry and was tormented by the unjust Midianites, a neighboring people.

Gideon was a nobody. When God called him to lead Israel into battle against the Midianites, Gideon, like Moses centuries earlier, was resistant. "And he [Gideon] said to him [God], 'Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house.'” (Judges 6:15)

After that, God patiently shows Gideon that He really is appointing Gideon, this unimportant person in Israel's weakest, least influential tribe, to lead God's efforts to free Israel of Midian. 

Later, when multiple tribes of God's people respond to Gideon's call to do battle with the Midianites and they're encamped in the valley near the hill of Moreh, God tells Gideon:
The Lord said to Gideon, “The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel boast over me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’ (Judges 7:2)
This begins a whittling process by which God reduces Gideon's forces from 32,000 soldiers to 300. It's at this point that God says Gideon has enough to do the job. And of course, the reason that God does this is to show Israel that God alone is all they need.

This same God, now revealed to all the world in Jesus, is all we need. Whether it's the temptations or false gods that seek to draw us away from God, the self-consciousness that tells us we're not good enough or able enough to be the person God calls us to be or a pandemic that brings the world to its knees, we're likely to feel, like Gideon did, utterly inadequate.

And Gideon was inadequate. 

So are we.

But remember that this God Who, through Jesus, is available to everyone, is the One to Whom we can go for peace, hope, strength, wisdom, and life. 

He is the only One Who can give us these things.

In fact, it's when we're at our weakest and most helpless that God can start to use us. When we lay aside all illusions of self-sufficiency or our need to be self-sufficient that God can do things in us and through us. That's why the apostle Paul says, "For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Corinthians 12:10)

So, whatever battle you find yourself in today, let God fight your battle. One person who falls at the feet of the crucified and resurrected Jesus and believes in Him can be used by God to accomplish God's good purposes

Maybe your call today is simply and persistently, with helplessness and faith, to ask God to guide medical researchers, public health officials, and elected leaders, to bring comfort to the families of the victims of the coronavirus, to heal those who have the virus, to protect medical personnel and their families from the disease, to help manufacturers to supply us with enough sanitizer, masks, and ventilators.

Maybe your call today is to find a means, any means--telephone calls, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter posts, email, texts--to share the good news of new and everlasting life that we have through Jesus. You can share in your own words, with gentleness, compassion, and love the truth that Jesus revealed to a man named Nicodemus:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son [Jesus], that whoever believes in him [Jesus] should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God." (John 3:16-18)
Whatever you may be battling today--fear, dread, grief, sorrow, boredom, let God win the battles for you.

Whoever you may know or whatever group of people you know of who are on the frontlines of the battle against coronavirus, you can call on God the Father in the name of Jesus, to hold them up and protect them. Yes, even you and I can do this, small and weak though we may think of ourselves as being.

What is God calling you to do today, even as you practice sheltering-in-place and social distancing? 

Ask God. If God could use Gideon, God can use you! 

[Below is an early, early generation praise song that we used to sing at a church I served in the Cincinnati area. The phrase, "the battle belongs to the Lord" comes from several passages in the Old Testament. It's kind of hokey, but I don't care.]

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