We have seen so many changes in this past year, and it’s hard to wrap our minds around this “new normal.” Simply put, we have our pre-COVID lives and our since COVID lives. We used to be able to gather with our friends and family, unafraid. We used to be able to go out to eat or go to the movie, unafraid. We used to be able to go to the gym or go on vacation, unafraid. But this hasn’t been the case for over a year. Some places are starting to reopen, but many people are still concerned about coming into contact with something harmful or potentially life-threatening. Some are getting their vaccinations, and as a result, have a sense of security, but much is still unknown about the vaccinations and COVID variants.
Since COVID, there have been many losses. People have lost contact with each other and with activities that were beneficial. Some have lost their careers, businesses, and income. Some have lost loved ones. Most concerning, some have lost hope. So what do we do with all the fear, uncertainty, and losses? The enemy wants us to remain afraid and cower; Jesus tells us in John 10:10a, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” But God has other plans for us, outlined in John 10:10b, when Jesus says, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” The enemy, and agents of the enemy, want to steal our joy, our peace, our security, and our freedoms, but God has promised Christians hope and a prosperous future. Jeremiah 29:11 says “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Thus, the thief uses fear to control people, but God has a plan to free us from the enemy’s control. The thief will steal but God will restore, as restoration is promised to His children in Joel 2:25a – “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten.”
Jesus says in John 10:11-13 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.” If you think about these verses, it would appear the hired hand is protective because that is the “role” he is in. He literally hangs out with the sheep until it is not convenient or safe, until the wolf comes. What “hired hands” have we believed were our security? Money, investments, government, politics, medicine, policies, new technology? These sources of security will, if they haven’t already, prove fleeting, just like the hired hand. But God can provide real security and hope in spite of the wolves (e.g., our world’s instability, division, and unGodly movements and trends), who come to divide and conquer.
So how do we put our hope in God and God alone? We trust in and rely on His promises. Jeremiah 29:12-14a says, “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.” I’m guessing many have felt captive to COVID, masks, closures, and the many restrictions in place. And those are just related to the Corona virus; there are many other forms of captivity as well, such as the movements that are attempting to rob people of freedoms enjoyed for centuries. This verse speaks to how God can bring us back from all this. Additionally, 2 Chronicles 7:14 reads “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” Our land needs some serious healing, not just from the pandemic, but from many evils, such as fake religions, deceptive social movements, unheard-of-before policies, and dark agendas. There is hope and security in these verses, but we need to truly humble ourselves, repent, pray, and seek God if we want Him to clean up this hot mess. This is the only real hope we have, and it is the only way to bring much needed healing to our country and world. The thieves/wolves will come, but God can and will protect, restore, and save His sheep.