April 05, 2021
When the lockdown was implemented last year, we all found ourselves doing whatever we could to cope with the situation. People explored many different things—from being a plantita to doing TikTok videos—to distract themselves or to simply kill the boredom.
Mine was different. When the lockdown started, I posted a blank sheet of paper on my wall and used it as a personal tracker of how long we’ve spent on lockdown. I don’t know what it achieved for me, but it somehow felt cathartic as I drew a line for each quarantine day that passed.
But I eventually gave up. When being stuck at home took too long, counting the days in quarantine became more depressing than cathartic. I felt like a prisoner counting my days in jail than a kid counting the days till I can go out and play again. So, I stopped counting on Day 156.
Many of us prayed fervently and without ceasing. Despite the challenges of the past year, we held on to our faith and stood our ground. We persevered in the face of trials and fought the good fight of the faith.
But, just when we thought that the worst is already over, why does it seem like the odds are still stacked against us no matter how hard we pray? Now, 13 months into the pandemic, we’re still here in the same spot—if not worse. The tally of new cases is breaking records almost every day, and our chances of regaining normalcy seem to have become slimmer despite the availability of vaccines.
If I may borrow Job’s words: “I looked for good, but evil came instead. I waited for light, but darkness fell. My heart is troubled and restless. Days of suffering torment me.” (Job 30:26–27, NLT)
Has God abandoned us?
Prior to the recent surge in COVID-19 cases, things seemed to have improved somehow. We were seeing a spark of hope as life somehow became normal again. The arrival of the vaccines was a game-changer, especially at a time when the curve had somehow flattened. But—surprise, surprise—welcome to the new wave!
This could also be what the disciples felt when Jesus was suddenly arrested and killed. They were so convinced that He was the Messiah. The long wait for redemption has finally come to an end. But—surprise, surprise—He was betrayed, arrested, crucified, and buried, along with their hope of redemption for Israel.
How could He die? They might have asked. They’ve seen Him cast out demons, heal the sick, walk on water, and raise the dead. If He was indeed the Messiah, how can He—a dead person—save a dying nation?
The time between Jesus’ death and resurrection was probably the longest three days in the lives of the disciples. It was long enough for them to scatter and flee; long enough for doubt to darken their hearts; and definitely long enough for Peter and the other disciples to go back to their former lives as fishermen.
As they grieved their Master’s death, they didn’t know that He had just disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities that challenged His authority. His death had actually put them to open shame by His victory on the cross! (Colossians 2:15)
When things seemed hopeless and when it seemed like they’d lost the fight, Jesus was actually delivering a fatal blow against the enemy. On the third day, he rose from the dead, sealing His victory over sin and death.
These days could make us feel the emotions that the disciples felt as they waited outside the tomb. We’re stuck in our homes again, wondering when things will go back to normal. We continue to ask God for help. We believe and declare, yet hope remains elusive as darkness takes over.
How do we cling to hope while we sit and watch outside the tomb?
While Jesus laid dead in the tomb, His disciples began to doubt. They went into hiding to evade persecution, arrest, and potential death. Although Jesus told them a number of times that He will resurrect from the dead, fear got the better of them; either they quickly forgot His words or they doubted whether He was really capable of rising from the grave.
But history is on our side and we have the benefit of hindsight! As we go through our present-day troubles, we know that we’re no longer staring at a sealed tomb with a dead messiah. We’re no longer waiting for our savior to rise for He has risen! Our faith is constantly affirmed by the empty tomb, an assurance that our Savior lives!
Our hope doesn’t just rest on optimism or wishful thinking. Our faith in God guarantees our hope of redemption. Faith is the assurance of the things we hope for (Hebrews 11:1). We know for a fact that Jesus is alive and is seated on the right hand of God’s throne.
We don’t have a dead messiah who speaks from the grave. Jesus is a living God who commands the world from His heavenly throne. God will deliver and save us—in His own terms and according to His own timeline.
In our finite human mind, we sometimes think that our salvation is just about getting saved from the troubles of this life. But in God’s infinite wisdom, salvation is about being set free from the darkness of this world. Yes, God wants to protect us from the evils of this world, but that’s not His ultimate desire.
God doesn’t just want us to live comfortable lives in this prison, this broken world. He wants to set us free from this fallen world and be with Him in His kingdom. There’s more to life than just living comfortably and staying alive in this world. We are citizens of heaven!
For now, while we wait for redemption, both from this crisis and from this fallen world, let us be still and know that He is God. (Psalm 46:10)
Groan. Weep. Lament before Him. But hold fast to your faith and persevere until the end.
Wait on Him. He is coming. This, too, shall come to pass.