I had a very godly grandmother who was widowed at a young age, losing my grandfather who was the love of her life. My mother was just five years old at the time. I grew up hearing many stories of how my grandfather lived out his Christian faith in their church and community before he died.
Grandma Burnham had lived through the Great Depression, spending twenty-seven years of her life as a teacher and eventually the principal of their local elementary school. Later in life, she was remarried twice to devout Christian men and went on to endure the sorrow of being widowed two more times.
A few years before her passing when I was going through some personal struggles, I asked her how she had survived so much pain in her life. She said, “Nolan, I have learned that no matter how difficult my life seems at the time, there is always someone else who is going through something worse. I have just determined that if they can make it with God’s help, then I can too! Better days are always ahead.” My grandmother was telling me in her own words that if you seek God, “this too shall pass.”
Our country's current season of trials causes me to consider Grandma Burnham's advice that is validated by years of experience and wisdom.
As fears surrounding COVID-19 abound, questions have rebounded from every corner of our society. Answers to those questions have come from every conceivable nook and cranny of Christendom. Thoughts have come in from sources ranging from outspoken intellectuals to people in prophetic circles. Articles and even books have been written and published through an innovative new high-speed process. In addition, we are hearing from Bible college professors, seasoned pastors, and denominational leaders. They all seem to have different answers to the true question behind all the questions surrounding “why”?
Everyone is asking God why thousands have died, why so many people are suffering, and why are there are still fears hanging out there about the possibility of a second wave of COVID-19, or of the possibility that a mutation of the virus is now infecting children.
The wisest conclusion – one that has been declared by many – is that while God did not do this, He did allow it.
So then, if God allowed it, isn’t He just as guilty as if He created it Himself? How can He do this and be holy and just?
The answer is in the Bible. Throughout Biblical history, we find story after story of God promising to protect His people under one condition. That condition is the big “if” of the Bible. Over and over He says “If you… then I will…” The well-known scripture verse, found in 2 Chronicles 7:14 states: “If my people, which 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 forgive their sin, and heal their land.”
To paraphrase, God was saying, “If you will do what I say, then I will heal your land.”
Because of God’s great mercy, He promises us protection. However, His protection is not a given. Many times throughout Old Testament history, God’s children experienced Him withholding His hand of protection as he allowed enemy armies to invade and completely conquer entire kingdoms of God’s people. However, the heavenly Father’s steadfast love understood that “if” they sought Him, as a teacher of righteousness and holiness, then He could give them directives to obtain victory over their enemies. God understands that we often do not have enough wisdom to discern when we actually need protection.
Time and time again, God’s children walked away from His laws and instructions concerning righteousness and mingled with other nations and their false gods. God knew that He needed to take strong measures. In the Old Testament, you repeatedly see the phrases “and they did not seek my face” and “their heart was turned from me to serve other gods.”
The God-imposed consequences always came gradually, preceded by clear warnings delivered by His prophets and priests. God always knew how to turn up the heat. He understood that by removing His hand of protection and allowing an enemy army to invade would bring the children of Israel back to their knees. He also knew they would then come back to a place of righteousness and holiness and to dependence on Him. Over and over again, as God’s children returned to Him, He subdued their enemies and the trouble eventually ceased.
I believe that God is a just God. I also believe that He has been longsuffering of the immorality and great wickedness into which we as a nation have fallen. We have at least two generations of people in this nation who have been misinformed about God, and to whom the Jesus Christ of the Bible has been misrepresented.
We as the New Testament church must accept that we are the “My people” of 2 Chronicles 7:14 today. If we will begin to truly seek God’s face again, by this promise, I am confident that this too will pass and He will show mercy and heal our land.
Rev Nolan J Harkness is the President and CEO of Nolan Harkness Evangelistic Ministries Inc. since 1985. He spent most of his adult life working in youth ministry. He also felt the calling of Evangelist/Revivalist and traveled as the door was open holding evangelistic meetings in churches throughout the Northeast. His website is www.verticalsound.org.