I sat on my bed for awhile, asking the Holy Spirit to help me frame my words to provide encouragement in a frightening time like this. I was preparing to write a column that would be published on Easter, and I wanted it to be special.
I began thinking about one of the enduring hymns that the elder members of my hometown church used to sing when I was a child: “It is Well with My Soul.” The first verse is especially fitting for the monumental devastation and loss that we have seen during the COVID-19 health crisis: “When peace like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll, Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well, with my soul.”
The coronavirus pandemic has swept through the U.S. and other nations around the world with a deadly force akin more to a tsunami than sea billows, and the immense sorrows are excruciating to bear. Yet, if Jesus was here in the flesh this Easter Sunday morning, He would say, “It is well.”
Why would Jesus say it is well when thousands are dying, losing their livelihoods, and being forced into isolation from their loved ones?
How can it be well with daily overflows of dismal COVID-19 news reports and briefings?
Jesus would say to those who believe that it is well through the faith and power He has bestowed upon them to overcome every dire situation. One essential truth that I have learned about Jesus through diligent study of Scripture is that He always spoke the contrary in the face of grim reality by faith. When death was looming, He spoke life; and when sickness was chronic, He decreed wholeness.
Mark 5:21-43 is one of many accounts that records how Jesus walked in divine authority over what appeared to be hopeless conditions.
A synagogue leader named Jairus came to Jesus and fell at His feet, asking the Lord to heal his daughter. As Jesus went with Jairus, a large crowd was following the Savior, which included a woman who had an issue of blood for 12 years. She pressed her way through the multitude in blood- soaked clothes and reached out to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment. Jesus immediately felt “virtue” flow out of Him, which in the Greek translation means “miraculous power.” When He asked who touched Him, the woman comes forth and Jesus proclaims to her that her faith has made her “whole.”
Healing this woman caused a delay in getting to Jairus’ daughter, and by the time Jesus reached this religious leader’s home, those who were there came out and told Him that she had died. Jesus, however, said she was sleeping, but due to lack of faith they “laughed him to scorn.” Jesus put them out of the girl’s room and performed another miracle that day, raising her from the dead.
Now it takes strong faith to believe that Jesus performed these miracles, but He said those who trust in Him would even do greater works in John 14:12. I have learned that walking in powerful faith results from repentance.
Many Easter sermons have focused on repentance in terms of being remorseful for sin and turning to God, but when delving a little deeper, repentance also means a “reversal of decision” or a “changed mind.” This is the Greek translation of repentance in 2 Peter 3:9. When you change your mind to believe that you are who Christ says you are and that you possess the might to do what He authorized you to do, you won’t be swayed by what seems terribly overwhelming or insurmountable.
The coronavirus pandemic has been a gut-check for me as a Christian.
I admit that I was scared at first from listening to all of the media reports about the global spread of the virus, but I had to step back and examine what I profess to believe in my heart and soul. I had to remember that I have “changed my mind” toward God.
So, I am writing this Easter message today to declare to you that it is well. It is well because Jesus has given us the power to cast out this COVID-19 pestilence just as He cast out sickness when He walked the earth.
Now is the time for believers to start using it.
Dr. Jessica A. Johnson is a lecturer in the English department at The Ohio State University-Lima. Email her at email@example.com. @JjSmojc