Recently, Gov. Andrew Cuomo attributed progress against the current pandemic to the prudent actions of government officials and fellow citizens. He denied that God did this, although in an earlier news conference he had thanked God for some relief. Taking the two statements as complementary, we find insight and understanding. We did do this, but not without God’s blessing. God did do this, but He is pleased to work through the labors of those He made in His image and to whom He gave power and authority over His creation. The truth is both-and, not either-or.
The Lord used the Assyrians to discipline His northern kingdom of Israel and He used the Babylonians to discipline His southern kingdom of Judah. He used the Persians to deliver Judah from the Babylonians. He can change water into wine miraculously, but He usually blesses the work of humans to plant, irrigate, tend, harvest and process water into wine. As Paul says, one plants, another waters and God gives the growth. God usually accomplishes His ends indirectly through natural means rather than directly through supernatural miracles.
We should employ all the means at our disposal to prevent infection, treat sickness and meet other pressing needs. We should thank God for these means, especially the skills, compassion and self-sacrificing generosity that He gives to all kinds of people. And we should pray that He will give our leaders and all of us knowledge, understanding, wisdom, courage, faithfulness and perseverance. We should pray that He would bless all this to spare the healthy, restore the sick and give recovery to our society. Then we should honor all those who have served well and glorify God for doing His mysterious work in the plague and for mitigating and relieving it. We have made progress through God’s blessing. God has given improvement through our work.
Finally, we should pray that the Lord will bless us with a recovery as rapid and substantial as the loss we are suffering. By the prophet Joel, God promised His people a hard discipline of great loss because of sin but also promised a great recovery. He sent disaster after disaster against His stubborn people to turn them from their self-destructive behaviors but, having turned them, He sent blessing after blessing to restore them fully. Our losses from the pandemic are incalculably great but God’s mercies are greater. No good thing is impossible with Him and we should seek Him for a complete and speedy recovery. We can’t do it without Him and He won’t do it without us.
The governor is right; we did this. We flattened the curve and are making progress in mitigating the devastations of the pandemic. He was also right to thank God because God did this. He gave us means to fight and blessed those means with a measure of success. May we all be faithful to do what we God has given us to do and may God bless our faithfulness with success.
Kit Swartz has served the Reformed Presbyterian Church in Oswego as Pastor-Teacher for almost forty years. Call the church at (315) 343-7112 or visit us at www.oswegorpc.org.