A couple of months ago we all watched the news with amusement as reports of a virus in a city in China called Wuhan first surfaced. It was half a world away, and while it might be wreaking havoc there, we were safe. How wrong we were. The invisible (to the naked eye) virus has become a pandemic; the numbers of infected and dead rise so quickly, news organizations can’t keep up.
Americans’ frantic attempts to stockpile toilet paper and hand sanitizer graphically illustrate our futile attempts to control our own future. The ‘illusion’ of our lives is that we are in control. As Paul prophetically announced two thousand years ago, While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape (1 Thess. 5.3)
Paul was pointing to the commencement of end-time events, when an unsuspecting world would suddenly be thrust into the ‘day of the Lord,’ and the time of ‘Great Tribulation.’ But this future day is reflected every day in our lives, for truth be told, we are not in control. That is an illusion.
We see it constantly – not just in the present crisis. Natural and man-made disasters can change our lives in a moment. It may be a doctor’s prognosis of cancer, a phone call informing you that a loved one has died, or an accident on the road. And in the midst of this sea of uncertainty, the constant refrain of Scripture is that a wise man puts his trust in God – not in ourselves.
In his ‘hymn of humanism,’ John Lennon calls us to imagine…
…there’s no heaven
…all the people living for today
…all the people living life in peace
…all the people sharing all the world
His invitation to a godless utopia is an illusion. A microscopic virus can render our best efforts virtually meaningless, and all of us helpless. This we don’t have to imagine; this we can see! Contrast this illusion with the prophet Isaiah’s hymn of praise to our sovereign God (see Isa. 40):
To whom, then, will you compare God? . . . Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood since the earth was founded? He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in. He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing. No sooner are they planted, no sooner are they sown, no sooner do they take root in the ground, than he blows on them and they wither, and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.
Notice the recognition of God and His omnipotent, controlling hand. The powerbrokers of this world come to nothing; His power is immeasurable, and His will unstoppable.
No one knows what the final toll of the coronavirus will be on the world, but a wise man will discern that God is giving us a warning: You are not in control. I AM. The wise man will put his trust in Me.