“Chosen … in the furnace of affliction.”
1. Sons of God, in tribulation,
Let your eyes the Saviour view;
He’s the Rock of our salvation,
He was tried and tempted too;
All to succour
Every tempted, burdened son.
2. ’Tis if need be, he reproves us,
Lest we settle on our lees;
Yet he in the furnace loves us;
’Tis expressed in words like these:
“I am with thee,
Israel, passing through the fire.”
3. To his church, his joy, and treasure,
Every trial works for good;
They are dealt in weight and measure,
Yet how little understood!
Not in anger,
But from his dear covenant love.
4. If today he deigns to bless us
With a sense of pardoned sin,
Perhaps tomorrow he’ll distress us,
Make us feel the plague within;
All to make us
Sick of self and fond of him.
THE CORONAVIRUS :
WHAT IS GOD SAYING TO THE NATION?
Not even viruses occur outside of the providence of God
Regarding the national and indeed worldwide calamity of the coronavirus, this pandemic must be viewed as a call to the nation to humble itself before the Trinitarian God who controls the advent of all diseases. We must as a people cry out to the Lord in prayer, for He is able to deliver us, both on an individual and a national level.
Believers in Christ experience God’s special protection in their physical and material affairs, as well as in matters of the soul. This is clearly taught in Matthew 6:33, and in Psalm 91:1 we are told that believers
“dwell in the secret place of the most High … (and) abide under the shadow of the Almighty”.
The ‘secret place’ and the shadow’ speak of the special protection which the Lord is able to grant to those who honour Him even in times of common calamity. This of course is not to say that Christians will not contract diseases or suffer the negative effects of a widespread affliction along with all other people – we all live in the same fallen world – but the difference is that believers always remain under God’s special providential care. This gives them a security and a peace of mind which those outside of God’s kingdom simply do not possess.
The Bible deals specifically with the issue of plagues and nationwide medical emergencies, for example in Leviticus 26:15-16, and Deuteronomy 28:15, 21-22. These passages teach us that if a nation carries on ignoring of God’s laws, He will withdraw His protecting hand in respect of that nation’s health and general medical well-being; He will also remove from a people who reject Him in their economic prosperity. So the Bible establishes a distinct connection between common calamities such as epidemics and national righteousness.
Major outbreaks of disease are not a judgement upon individuals, and anyone may become a victim of them, but they are a warning to nations to seek the face of the God who controls all men’s circumstances. How we need in this nation to humble ourselves before the one true God who has revealed Himself in Jesus Christ, because there are many aspects of our national life which are an offence to God.
Yes of course, in the midst of an epidemic we care for the sick and the vulnerable, and must take all the necessary medical precautions, but we must above all else seek the Lord Jesus Christ, and cry out for mercy as a nation which has failed to honour God.
Dealing with sickness was a major factor in the earthly ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ. He clearly taught that His healing of a variety of medical conditions represented the need for all to be healed from the plague of sin. He thus declared when healing a paralysed man,
“That ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, he saith to the sick of the palsy … Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house” (Mark 2:10–11).
So a nation afflicted by plague and sickness is a nation which needs to examine its relationship to the holy God and to come in repentance and faith to the only Saviour of men, the Lord Jesus Christ, He who is well able to remove the coronavirus from a humbled people who seek Him.
“Bless the LORD, O my soul … Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases” (Psalm 103:2–3).
Pastor Peter Simpson
(Penn Free Methodist Church and CW Committee Member)