By: NJ LCMS District President Rev. Dr. Tony Steinbronn
+. Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…
+. When this virus first came into our world here, in this part of the country, a passage from the Old Testament kept coming to me, a story from Numbers 11:
God, through several miraculous signs and wonders, had shown that He is God and that He is able to deliver His people by His mighty hand and outstretched arm (Deuteronomy 7:19) when He delivered His people from their four hundred years of bondage and slavery in the land of Egypt. In response Israel was to worship Him alone as their God and Redeemer; and they were to trust in His power to provide for their daily needs.
The most powerful and significant of the signs and wonders was the last one in which the Lord caused the “angel of death” to pass over all those dwellings that had the blood of the lamb placed on the sides and tops of the doorframe.
Yet now it is only 45 days later and the people are starting to complain to Moses about the manna that they were receiving every day and they want Moses to provide them with meat as well. Even Moses began to wonder if God could provide meat for so many people; for there were 600,000 men, along with the women and children.
So the Lord came to Moses, and the people, and asked them a great question: Is the arm of the Lord too short?
And with that question the Lord helped Moses and the people understand that He can do all things; and, what the Lord did that day, was to allow the wind to blow in order that thousands upon thousands of quail were brought to His people. This was the result: the wind from the Lord brought the quail down all around the camp to about three feet above the ground, as far as a day’s walk in any direction…all that day and night and all the next day the people went out and gathered quail…no one gathered less than 60 bushels.
+. So the question to us in our time of need is this: can the Lord provide? Is the arm of the Lord too short?
Carol and I asked that question when we went to Africa twenty-five years ago. Would there be good water for us? Would there be good healthcare for us? If one our children would become sick, would there be a good hospital for them to be cared for and could we find competent doctors to treat their illnesses? Would our immune systems be able to deal with the viruses that they would be exposed to for the 1st time?
Those were the questions that we were wrestling with then and it is the same question that Carol and I and the children are asking again today with this coronavirus. Will we be able to survive this virus if it were to enter into our bodies?
And yet we know that the Lord can take care of us and that the arm of the Lord is not too short to protect our lives; if that is His will.
+. Especially this week, our holy week, we remember on Good Friday that “the arm of the Lord is not too short” as our Lord was able to stretch out His arms so that He could win salvation for all people…and how, on Easter day, He conquered death
This last summer one of my very good friends died -- Paul Huneke -- and about two weeks before Paul died, we were talking about what kind of illness would most likely cause us to die one day and we both agreed that it would be the failure of our respiratory systems to do what they needed to do. I hope to beat this virus if it would come to me but if this virus would take my life, I know that the arm of the Lord is not too short and that He will cause Tony to live again.
+. Job, thousands of years before the Lord became flesh to save us, said this about Him:
Oh, that my words were recorded, that they were written on a scroll, that they were inscribed with an iron tool on lead, or engraved in rock forever! I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see Him with my own eyes – I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!
+. And often when I am confronted with a great need in life, I remember the words of a favorite hymn that my Dad would often sing: what a friend we have in Jesus
+. We pray:
What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry…everything to God in prayer!
Oh, what peace we often forfeit; oh, what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer!
Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged…take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful…who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness…take it to the Lord in prayer.
Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care?
Precious savior, still our refuge…take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do they friends despise, forsake thee? Take it to the Lord in prayer.
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee; Thou wilt find a solace there.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.