THE COVID-19 CHURCH CHALLENGE: God in the Crisis
The Kingdom of God is like a farmer who scatters seed on the ground.
These days, the news can seem downright depressing. Whether it’s pandemic illnesses or political agendas, it can seem tough to see God working in the world. The personal struggles we experience feel the same way. Our days are filled with great challenges and little harvest.
We seldom ask the questions out loud. But I know we all think it to ourselves. We ask, “Where exactly is God working in this fallen world? Why does he seem so silent—and even distant?” We know the answers in our heads. The Bible gives us a couple of good ones:
God allows evil so that we may choose good. Okay. Got it. In 2 Peter 3:9, we are told that God is patient. God uses evil for his good purposes. Yes, of course. In Romans 8:28, we are mindful that God works all things, good and evil, together creating something good for those who love him.
These answers give us an explanation for what we see. But what about the things we don’t see? How come there seems to be so little evidence of God at work in the crisis? Jesus revealed that to us as well.
In the Gospel of Mark 4:26-29, he said, “The Kingdom of God is like a farmer who scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, while he’s asleep or awake, the seed sprouts and grows, but he does not understand how it happens. The earth produces the crops on its own. First a leaf blade pushes through, then the heads of wheat are formed, and finally the grain ripens. And as soon as the grain is ready, the farmer comes and harvests it with a sickle, for the harvest time has come.”
Jesus gave us some essential insight about God’s plan in the world. While the farmer participates by planting the seed, he can’t begin to grasp the growth cycle. In the Greek, “acting of oneself” is automatos. The process of growth happens on its own or proceeds automatically. The world doesn’t have a clue as to how the Creator programmed seeds to sprout by themselves. Likewise, God does the same with his plan that may seem delayed.
Where is God in the crisis? Jesus intended to strengthen our faith through this parable. How? We can at least hold on to one truth when God’s plan seems to be delayed in a world full of chaos and confusion. Even if we don’t seem to see or understand the plan of God, it is constantly progressing toward his chosen end.
The process as Jesus described it the parable—“first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head”—suggests a progression of steps, none of which we can speed up, slow down, or skip altogether.
The sequence shows us the future. It may seem like it is hidden today, but it will become visible to all one day. God’s plan is moving forward in spite of appearing seemingly insignificant.
In our day, where seeing is the only way of believing, Jesus’ parable encourages a persistent faith that sees beyond the threatening crisis toward an amazing outcome. In spite of the present day predictions of doom and gloom, this picture illustration reveals a promising future.
Compared to the large and looming weeds sown in the world—which we hear and fear in the news reports—God’s work seems so small and utterly pointless. But he works in ways that our human eyes overlook by sowing seeds and growing wheat that await a great harvest (Matthew 13:24-30).
In an age of instant everything, Jesus urges his followers to have a persistent faith toward a certain conclusion. Where will this faith lead us?
In Revelation 11:15, John said, “The world has now become the Kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign forever and ever.”
Our world will always point us to the panic of today in order to demand our attention. But in these days of fearful and stressful events, we need to remember the truths Jesus pointed out. What seems small and insignificant now will become the greatest of all kingdoms one day.
In-Home LifeGroup Study Guide
Think about your ongoing personal struggle. What do you see is your greatest challenge today? How does this current challenge seem like it is producing such little harvest?
Within your LifeGroup, share a time of crisis in your past when you asked, “Where exactly is God working in this fallen world? Why does he seem so silent—and even distant?”
Read 2 Peter 3:9 and Romans 8:28 out loud. How do you process the current crisis in light of these Bible passages?
Read the parable of Jesus in Mark 4:26-29. How does the principle behind this parable strengthen our faith in God’s plan during the time of an indefinite crisis?
How does this parable give us a godly perspective to safeguard our hearts and minds against the present gloom and doom news predictions?
Read Revelation 11:15. How does the heavenly announcement in this passage encourage each of us?
Pray together: Lord God, our world will always point us to the panic of today in order to demand our attention. But in these days of fearful and stressful events, keep us mindful of the truth that Jesus revealed. Even if the progress of your kingdom may seem small and insignificant now, by faith we know it will become the greatest of all kingdoms one day. Amen.