Over these last several months, we all have had to deal with changes in our daily routines. Sometimes we may even wonder if these changes will prevent us from accomplishing the plans that we have for our life. The coronavirus has in many ways placed a veil of darkness over the world and has led some people to wonder if the plans for their life can be fulfilled, especially if this situation continues for much longer. It is a question of light versus darkness.
The contrast of light and darkness is an analogy that Jesus used very effectively to explain what He brought to the world. Speaking to the people around Him one day, He described Himself this way: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12) For us and all believers, Jesus is the light of our lives, our salvation, the light that burns within us. It is the same light that burned brightly in the Apostles and that the darkness of the world tried to extinguish from the very beginning. We can learn a great lesson from their experience.
In the earliest days of their ministries, the Apostles were sharing the Good News of the salvation and eternal life that Jesus brought to the world with great enthusiasm, and people were accepting Jesus in very large numbers. The infant church was growing rapidly. Jealousy filled the hearts of the religious leaders of the day and they were determined to put a stop to this new Christian movement. As much as they tried, they could not succeed. So they sent their guards to arrest the Apostles and place them in jail. “But during the night, an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. ‘Go, stand in the temple courts,’ he said, ‘and tell the people the full message of this new life.’” (Acts 5:19-20) The Apostles did exactly that. Without fear, they boldly stood in the temple courts and preached about Jesus.
So the religious leaders sent the guards again, this time to bring the Apostles to stand before their religious court. The Apostles refused to stop preaching about Jesus, regardless of the consequences to them. The religious leaders were furious, and they wanted to put the Apostles to death. But a Pharisee by the name of Gamaliel stood up and asked for the Apostles to be removed so he could speak freely. He said this to the religious leaders of the court: “…I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” (Acts 5:38-39) Amazingly, the religious leaders, who only minutes before were ready to put the Apostles to death, set them free after a brief flogging.
Nothing in this world can prevent God’s purpose for our lives from being realized.
You see, the darkness could not overcome the light. This small group of men continued to fulfill their mission – to spread the light of Jesus to the world. The Apostles should have been silenced – the forces that came against them were, by worldly standards, so much larger and stronger. But God was in control and the light of Jesus could never be extinguished. It would only grow stronger and stronger. Nothing in this world can prevent God’s purpose for our lives from being realized.
We are facing the darkness of a virus that is the result of living in a fallen world. God never intended for natural disasters and illnesses to exist in the world. While sin is the human side of the darkness of the world, these disasters and illnesses are the natural side of the darkness of a fallen world. But “God is the same yesterday, today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8) Just as the religious leaders could not stop God’s plan for the Apostles to spread the Good News of Jesus to the world, this virus cannot stop God’s plan for our lives. There is no power, force or illness in this world that can prevent God from fulfilling His plan for each of our lives. Just the opposite, Saint Paul tells us: “…we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) Even in these most unusual circumstances that we find ourselves in, God continues to work for the good of us as we keep our eyes focused on Him in faith and love. The Apostles did not know how God would work in their lives when they were faced with the darkness of this world. But in faith they trusted in Him without having to know how the plan for their life would be realized – even when they were faced with the most difficult circumstances. In the words of Saint John, an Apostle who experienced this in his own life: “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” (1 John 5:4) Through faith, the light of Jesus burns brightly in us and no darkness of the world can overcome us. God’s purpose will be fulfilled in each of our lives.
May our hearts be filled with the light of Jesus as we confidently face all the days ahead with strength and optimism, knowing that God is with us and nothing can prevent His purpose from being fulfilled in our lives, through the all Holy Trinity, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.