By Todd Brady
Vice President for University Ministries, Union University
The last month and a half has been surreal. COVID-19 has meant that nothing has been the same. Everything has changed. No normal routine. No getting out. No going to the movie. No baseball. No graduation ceremonies.
Don’t get close. Don’t go to school. Don’t go to church. Don’t touch your face. All the focus seems to be on what can’t be done and on what is not happening.
While everything in life seems to have changed, one thing remains the same. God and His work has not changed. He is redeeming the world. The plan still stands for every nation from all tribes and peoples and languages to stand in front of the throne in white robes and with palm branches and to proclaim in a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb” (Revelation 7:9-10)! God’s plan for His glory has not been altered, changed, postponed, modified, adjusted, adapted or canceled.
Things may have slowed down, but history is still moving toward God’s throne.
There is much uncertainty, but we can bank on the promise that God will one day be surrounded by worshipers, and He will receive unending glory.
We often read the passage about Jesus looking on the crowds of people with compassion. We see that they were “harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Jesus then says, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.” We’ve all heard sermons on this text where preachers camp out on the second part of that sentence — “the laborers are few.”
Indeed, we have a responsibility and a privilege to be a part of God’s global redemption, but let us not lose sight in the rock solid truth that Jesus states in the first part of that sentence. “The harvest is plentiful.” He speaks in the indicative. Jesus does not hedge His comments here. He doesn’t say the harvest “may” or “might” or “could be” plentiful, but that it “is” plentiful (Matthew 9:35-38). There’s no beating around the bush here. It’s going to happen.
Anyone who has been around church for any amount of time knows the first part of Psalm 46:10 — “Be still, and know that I am God.” This part of the verse is often plastered on posters, printed on bookmarks and cross-stitched on pillows. With things in the world slowed down because of COVID-19, many folks have been quoting this verse to themselves, posting it on social media and taking an opportunity to focus on the things of God in ways that they wouldn’t otherwise.
But did you know that “Be still, and know that I am God” is only the first part of Psalm 46:10? The entire verse is “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Indeed, “God is our refuge and strength, a present help in trouble,” (Psalms 46:1) but in this time of forced stillness, let us reflect on what God intended us to realize when we are still — that He is indeed God, and that He is (not “may,” not “might,” not “could be”) going to be “exalted among the nations and in the earth.” (v. 10)
God is a global God, and in the midst of a global pandemic let us look to our God and be mindful of the fact that this promise is true. There is hope. There is coming a day when He will be worshiped among all nations. COVID-19 has forced us to be still.
Let us indeed be still and know that He is God. But let our knowledge of God not stop with a mere intellectual acknowledgement. Understanding that He will be exalted among the nations and as we come out of this quarantined state, let us determine even more so to be faithful laborers in the harvest which is indeed plentiful.