When the COVID-19 pandemic had just been declared, I saw a report about mothers who used music to encourage their children to wash their hands more often and for longer periods of time. One mom had her kiddos sing the restaurant-standard happy birthday song while they washed their hands. They had to scrub for the full length of time required to sing the entire song. I wonder if I could do that the next time someone puts a sombrero on my head and starts singing that little ditty to me?
“Excuse me, singers. I must run to the restroom to wash my hands … but please continue.”
One day as the coronavirus panic was rapidly escalating, I was washing my hands when I found myself caught in a mind-rush to sing that song to myself. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit gave me relief from my mental oppression. “Why not pray the Lord’s prayer while you wash your hands instead?”
This divine suggestion has helped me draw closer to the Lord while I protect my hands from bug warfare. It also encourages me to move away from control and into trust.
For most of us, the most difficult aspect of the whole COVID-19 pandemic has been our inability to control it. No matter how much we planned and prepared (and for some of us, hoarded), we could control very little about the virus. The ensuing weeks revealed our level of trust in everything from media to government leaders to health officials to God.
Yes, we do love our control. In fact, we begin our attempts to control the world around us with the first breath of life. A baby’s natural cry, called the “cry for attention,” represents our first efforts at getting our needs met. Over the years, children can learn to use manipulative tears to get their way within their little circle of life. As we grow into adults, we develop highly refined personal skills for meeting our needs by taking matters into our own hands and manipulating people and events around us. These methods of control are often so deeply ingrained that we lack personal insight into our own deceptive behavior. Most of us are more aware of the manipulation of others than of our own string-pulling.
But maturity demands that we lay bare before God our need to control and begin the process of trusting the one who is in ultimate control. That’s a part of how God has used the COVID-19 pandemic for good. Much of it has to do with the little word “trust,” which carries such a big meaning. Paul used this word in his letter to the Philippians: “But I trust in the Lord that I, myself, shall also come shortly” (Phil. 2:24).
“I trust” can also be rendered, “I am confident” (NET Bible, NABRE). The verb used here is a strong one, carrying the components of confidence, reliance and hope.
The foundation of this confidence and hope lies “in the Lord.” After the Lord met and changed him on the road to Damascus, the will of the Lord regulated every mood of Paul’s life. “I trust” here has the force of “if the Lord wills it.”
It is only “in the Lord” that the apostle can look ahead with confidence, and with this confidence, he says, “I, myself, shall also come shortly.” In other words, he will follow soon after Timothy. What or whom do you trust? I’ve heard some people say, “I don’t trust anyone or anything.” How sad is that?
King David displayed the right kind of confidence: “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses, but we will remember the name of the Lord our God” (Ps. 20:7). Even a call for social distancing does not affect the heart of one with this level of trust. David placed his confidence in the one who has promised to be with us always, “even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20b).
We have trouble trusting chariots and horsemen. We know they can fall or be brought down by others. We must also guard our hearts against willful manipulation to get our way—whether in business, ministry, parenting or when news of a pandemic fills the air. When we manipulate others, we show a lack of trust in the Lord. We basically say, “The truth’s not good enough.” But truth—real, biblical, Christ-centered truth—builds trust.
I don’t need a new chariot, faster horsemen, a vaccine, a medical breakthrough or even a better way to “wash and pray.” I need—we need—to trust in the name of the Lord.
Dr. Steve Greene is the publisher and executive vice president of the multimedia group at Charisma Media and executive producer of the Charisma Podcast Network. His Charisma House book, Love Leads, shows that without love, you cannot be an effective leader. Download his Greenelines podcast at cpnshows.com.
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