Eleven years after receiving my master’s degree, I returned to the seminary to work on my Doctor of Ministry degree. The program required the selection of an academic supervisor from the seminary and a field supervisor, in my case an active pastor. Normally, the student submits suggestions, and the school picks from that list. After months of searching, it became evident the seminary would need to select my supervisors. They chose individuals that I had prayed I would not get. I was devastated, but it turned out they were exactly the persons I needed.
An acquaintance has a stressful, essential job. Because of the coronavirus, the company said, “We are moving you to another location where you’ll be less exposed to the virus.” It meant she would need to drive many more miles each day and make difficult childcare rearrangements. She was beside herself with worry. How could this be happening?
I advised, “Please know this: When disappointment comes, it is often God’s prelude to better things.” She had serious doubts about that. Less than 24 hours later, a superior called and said, “The place where you will be safest from COVID-19 is at home. We’re giving you a laptop and want you to work at home.” Now, what could be more convenient than that? This time I advised, “Tell God thank you.”
These two instances are but minor examples of God’s power to take our fears and heartaches and turn them into good. No doubt, the worldwide spread of the coronavirus is a crisis. Despite the advice of the CDC, people are panicking. My wife wanted to make banana pudding to take to a family gathering. We had the bananas, but she needed pudding mix and vanilla wafers. I went to three different groceries before I found vanilla pudding mix. The experience was surreal. The shelves were practically empty. The clerks were wiping them down with disinfectant
I don’t mean to belittle the danger of COVID-19; it is a pandemic. I am in the high-risk group. It will likely grow worse before it gets better; but remember, God is in the business of changing bad into good. Do you need an example? God took the worst wrong in human history, Jesus’s crucifixion, and turned it into good.
The believing writer of Proverbs said it well: Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Don’t trust your own understanding (or fears). (Proverbs 3:5).