In the Hands of a Merciful God

In my normal Bible reading time I found myself in I Chronicles the other day. I confess, this is one of my least favorite books of the Bible. The whole first half is genealogy and the second half is a recap of everything we just read in Samuel and Kings. But this day, in one of those recaps, I ran across I verse that made me stop and think in relation to our coronavirus days.

First let me set up the situation: King David had sinned by taking a census of the people of Israel, which God had specifically said not to do. When the Word of the Lord came to him through the prophet Gad, He gave King David a choice of punishments. He could choose 3 years of famine, 3 months being overrun by their enemies or 3 days of pestilence (disease). Granted, none of those are good choices, but David chose pestilence, and the reason spoke so clearly to this moment in 2020.

I Chronicles 21:13:

Then David said to Gad, “I am in great distress. Let me fall into the hand of the Lord, for His mercy is very great, but do not let me fall into the hand of man.”

As a student of history, I have considered these past few days in light of what our grandparents and great-grandparents lived through. Food shortages (famine) and war. Disease, too, but in most recent memory, famine and war have been most prevalent as far as a global shared experience, with the exception being the flu pandemic of 1918. For us and our children, this is the first affliction we have experienced that touches everyone we know.

The more I considered David’s statement in I Chronicles, the more I pressed into the “very great” mercy of the Lord, and here are a few things I came up with as far as His mercy (so far) in this moment of widespread pestilence. First, the mercies I see in our world as a whole:

  • Technology—unlike the 1918 pandemic, not only can we get warnings from the government and the medical community immediately, but we are not isolated from one another completely. We can still call and text and video chat. Not to mention making it possible for many jobs—and much schooling—to be handled from home. And ebooks!
  • Online services—as a society we have become more and more comfortable with this and it is serving to be a blessing. Not only can we generally still get what is necessary, and even some things that just make isolation a little easier. And we can take care of things like banking or paying bills without disruption.

Without these things in place (and I know there are still segments of the population who do not have these mercies!), dealing with coronavirus would be even more difficult.

Some mercies for us personally:

  • Several months ago, we moved from an offsite storage unit to one in our building.
  • Just before the runs on the grocery stores, we had a new fridge and range installed. Of course in anticipation of this I had my refrigerator almost empty, but the day it was installed and I headed to the store there were still food options. And while I didn’t get a ton, I got enough that we were okay until the stores restocked a bit.
  • We had in-person visits with all of our kids in February. In March, I saw some again as well as visiting with my parents.

I intend keep my eyes open for more of God’s mercies in the coming days—in my own life and in our world. For while coronavirus obviously hasn’t abated as quickly as the pestilence in David’s time, I know God continues to be a God of very great mercy.

What mercies of God have you seen recently?