By Doug Thompson
I stared at the headline: “Hardest, Saddest Week Ever.” The Surgeon General was warning Americans that we all need to brace ourselves emotionally for the equivalent of “Pearl Harbor,” and “9/11.” The week before Easter Sunday.
I was struck by the irony: For Christians, this is a Holy Week. Last Sunday we celebrated Palm Sunday, the beginning of Jesus’ final week on this earth. 2,000 years ago, He entered Jerusalem, humble, and mounted on a donkey. He came as the Prince of Peace to suffer His final rejection by His own people; to be mocked, tortured, and nailed to a cross. He had committed no crime worthy of death. His own enemies could find no sin in Him. But He was fulfilling prophecy as well as the will of His Father: to take on Himself the sins of His people and die in their place that they might be forgiven and have eternal life.
Ironically, we call the night of His crucifixion, Good Friday. Good, in spite of the unspeakable horror He endured that ended in His death. Very good, because that death purchased salvation and freedom for anyone who will trust in Him and what His death accomplished. Revelation 7:9 says that this will encompass, “a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages.” And on the first day of the next week, Jesus rose from the grave, alive, as the Conqueror of sin, Satan, and death. I’d say that was the best week ever.
So here we are in the middle of a worldwide pandemic that could be over soon, or not. Or it could come back in wave after sickening wave until we develop a vaccine. And then, we await the next plague. Jesus said there will be “pestilence” (Lk.24:11) increasing in severity, until His return. Our Surgeon General might have been right that hard, sad times lie ahead this next week. But unfortunately he was mistaken: much harder, sadder times are coming. Jesus called it “Tribulation.” And it will make this current pandemic look like the sniffles.
The truth is, we are all going to die, whether from coronavirus, or old age. And even this isn’t the worst news. The Bible speaks of a “second death,” which is eternal punishment and separation from God as the due punishment for our sins. But God, in His mercy, has provided a rescue – an antidote for this poison of sin which is killing us all—
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
If this horrible, stalking virus has caused you to sense your mortality, see your sinfulness before a holy God, and your desperate need for a Savior, then I urge you not to delay, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved!” (Acts 16:31). Death and sadness in this world will continue. And even Christians have no immunity against suffering, sadness, and death. But for those whose hope is in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, “over such, the second death has no power” (Rev.20:6).
This could be your best week ever.