A Coronavirus Awakening - Matt Escarra
Updated: Apr 17, 2020
If we believe God is sovereign over all things, including the coronavirus pandemic, one of the obvious questions that arises is “God, why are you allowing this?” A great deal has already been written about what God’s purposes might be in this, but at its core, Scripture shows that major trials are often meant to awaken people to their need for repentance and revival – individually, as communities, as a nation, and for our world.
For me personally, I have tried to take time to dwell daily on what God is calling me to repent of and where the coronavirus is exposing my need to re-align my life with God’s purposes. This period has been one of oscillating emotions for me. I normally pride myself on being relatively even-keeled, but these last few weeks have been a rollercoaster. It probably doesn’t help that I’ve tried to become an amateur epidemiologist – creating an elaborate spreadsheet and digging into data, models, and scientific reports as they come out. One day I’m convinced we are going to be in this situation until we have a vaccine next year; the next I’m ready to personally kick coronavirus in the teeth with my social distancing so we can crush it instead of waiting for it to run its course. On top of this, with my kids home during the day, my wife and I attempting to work from home, significant new challenges with work, and concern for the health of my community, I struggle regularly to have time for my own thoughts – much less to see God’s purposes in this. Yet even still, God is showing me ways that I fall far short on a regular basis that had previously been masked by the routines of normal life. Much repentance of sin and revival of affections for God is needed!
As a scientist by training, I see the concepts of repentance and revival as different ways of saying that we need to be much more fully aware of ultimate reality. Just as my work in the lab is about understanding the physical universe, I daily need to be growing more aware of who God is and how I can be more aligned with His values and purposes.
For Lent, my 5-year-old son and I have been reading a bit of John’s Gospel every night, and this has helped tremendously in the cause of seeing more of God. Nothing did this more for me than reading Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer in John 17 (ESV). In verse 5 he prays “Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.” Later in verse 24 he prays “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.” And in verse 13 he prays “These things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.” These verses show us that the Trinity was full of glory, love, and joy before creation, and Jesus came to live, die, and defeat death to share that eternal love and joy with humanity. Christians believe this is the ultimate reality underlying all of existence.
This Easter, as we remember the work of Jesus on the cross, let’s also remember what Easter points us to – that in all our personal and corporate coronavirus-related (or other) struggles, God is working to bring us to repentance and awaken us more fully to see Him and trust Him. Fighting to overcome sin and find joy in these days means tapping into the fountain of joy that has eternally existed in the Godhead, which Jesus earnestly prayed for us to have just before earning it for us on the cross.
Matthew Escarra has been a member at Canal Street Church since 2014. He is an assistant professor of engineering physics at Tulane, husband, and father of two preschoolers. He is a passionate New Orleans sports fan currently living in a world with no sports and trying not to find new forms of idolatry.