What Good News Do We Have in the Midst of COVID-19?

There is an old story about a lumberjack preparing to cut down several trees in a mountain forest. As he began, he noticed a beautiful bird building its nest atop one of the trees. Not wanting to harm the bird or its young, the lumberjack took a mallet and pounded on the tree until the bird (quite annoyed) flew to another tree and began to build its nest there.

The lumberjack did the same thing with the second tree. The bird and the lumberjack repeated this dance a half-dozen more times, until the bird abandoned the forest altogether and built its nest on the side of the rock face.

I imagine the bird never understood why the lumberjack was pursuing it, systematically attacking its shelters in the trees. But his motive, of course, was compassion. He knew every tree in the forest was about to come down. He wanted the bird to build in its nest in a place where his axes couldn’t touch it.

I suspect many of us feel like that bird right now. Our world has been shaken at its very foundations. Things we’ve taken for granted—our health, our jobs, the stock market, the security of loved ones, the ability to go and do what we please—have crumbled. Perhaps we wonder where the love of God is in this.

What if God, in love, was attacking foundations that will eventually crumble anyway to move us to one that never will?

The death of Christ is God’s revelation of the coming judgment on the world. Scripture tells us that when Christ died on the cross, he was being judged in our place, paying the penalty for our sin so we didn’t have to. The gospel message can be summarized in four words: Jesus in my place (2 Corinthians 5:21). It’s a gift that, if we avail ourselves of it, allows us to escape the judgment that our sin against God has brought upon us.

The resurrection is his offer of new life. At his resurrection, Jesus overcame everything we feared in death—abandonment, annihilation, and judgment. He promised, “The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die” (John 11:25–26 NIV). For those in Christ, death is but one temporary transition point in the gloriously happy life God has for his children.

But is it true? Perhaps all this sounds to you like mere wishful thinking—a fairy-tale ending to life for people who can’t handle the fact that we’re all alone in the universe. Or maybe you assume the accounts of the resurrection were rumors made up by over-excited religious zealots to give themselves the trump card in the religious controversies of their day.

God’s invitation to all curious to know is, “Come and see.” These were among the first words spoken by the angels at the empty tomb (Matthew 28:6). Come and investigate for yourself the evidence for his resurrection. It is clear and compelling for all who would take the time to examine it.

Most don’t. But maybe this year you’ve begun to understand that the place you have been building your nest can’t last forever. If so, come and see. Come and see this rock of refuge God has established for all who would seek him in faith.