The coronavirus pandemic feels like an Old Testament judgement of God on the Earth. In the past, God destroyed whole Nations and people groups. He promised after Noah to not wipe out the entire world again, but if we are honest, there are moments it appears like it is headed down that path. The longer this crisis goes on, the more it seems like a judgment of God or some terrifying display of His wrath. When we don’t know who to blame for natural devastation, we question the Creator’s motives.
Could it be that God is doing something here to make a point? If nothing is outside of His absolute control, why isn’t He stopping this out-of-control virus? What is His plan?
It seems too early to discern exactly what God is up to. Truth be told, we may never know. We look at a crisis like this through dim glasses of faith and with foggy eyes of doubt (1 Corinthians 13:12). Yet, we should be able to rest, knowing God is up to millions of things, even though we may never know His reasons or all of the end results.
We may not perceive God’s ultimate intent for allowing this pandemic. We may not even know a fraction of His reasons, for they are as vast and varied as the number of the people in the world living through this time. But one thing we can be sure of thus far in the situation: God is allowing the greatest idol crushing our modern world has ever seen.
An idol of our heart is anything we put before God in our affections. God knew that humans would gravitate toward loving what we see or can create more than we would love Him. In the first two commands of the 10 commandments in Deuteronomy 5 he told us to avoid worshiping idols.
“‘You shall have no other gods before me.
You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.  You shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me” —
Deuteronomy 5:7–9 (ESV)
God is jealous, and rightfully so. We often misunderstand his jealousy. It doesn’t seem loving of Him to be jealous… it is as if we believe that if He were truly loving, He would let us love other things more than Him. However, love must be jealous for it to be true love.
Our problem is that we love the many good things that God created more than we love the Creator. Our affections for food, sports, entertainment, socializing, money and possessions rise high in our heart, casting a shadow on the love we have for God. Scripture portrays that God will remove those affections with force if He must, because He is jealous. As our Creator, He deserves to be our foremost affection.
For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God. — Deuteronomy 4:24 (NIV)
So while I cannot tell you all that God is doing in this crisis, I can assure you that our idols are being crushed. It has removed the things that eclipsed our love for God—in one massive advance of a virus allowed by our sovereign King. Our hearts worshiped at the alter of fine dining, sports, entertainment, convenience and comfort. This virus has crushed those idols.
The millions of hours spent watching sports—stopped.
The millions of dollars spent on eating out, and drinking socially—stopped.
The comfort of healthy and growing retirement plans—stopped or declining.
The luxury of getting hair done, nails manicured, beauty enhanced—stopped.
The obsession of travel and leisure—stopped.
The needed moments of “adult time”—stopped or limited.
You name it, there have been hundreds of idols that have been stripped away. Not that these were bad; we just have to acknowledge that we may have loved them too much. God will contend for our hearts, and He is doing that in a very real way through this world crisis.
So how do we respond to the jealousy of God?
We could get bitter, complain, gripe and throw a spiritual tantrum. We could tell God and others how upset we are that He has allowed a few of our favorite things to be removed.
Or, we could see it as loving of Him to allow our idols of the heart to defeated. We could use this as a catalyst to come closer to Him. What if the very reason God removed all these things was to give you something greater? What if He is allowing the things you love to taken to enhance your life and soul in a way that could only happen through this massive idol crushing?
There are a lot of things I miss in this season. Freedom is the top of the list — I enjoyed being able to go wherever I wanted (without a mask), eat whatever I wished, and be with whoever I chose. I miss haircuts, coffee shops, the mall and the mountains. I would have considered none of the things to be idols of my heart, but looking back, I can see how the affections of my life hindered the pursuit of my soul. God has been calling me deeper. I have been wading into the shallow end, responding to His call. However, with so many convenances now removed, it feels like I am being thrust into the deep end of His love.
So will you join me? Will you allow this idol crushing to lung you into the depth of Christ? Or will you allow this to be a season of growing angst, anger and bitterness?
God is crushing our idols, and oh, how loving of Him to do so. He is contending for our hearts. I may not know all that He is doing, but one thing I know for sure—He is calling us closer to Him. Our dependance on Him must rise, and as it does, it will produce one of the many great results that will come from this pandemic: a greater dependance on Jesus.
Let’s not cry over what we’ve lost. Let’s cling to what you still have in Christ.