Harvard president tests positive for COVID-19: When you’re afraid that all we can do is not enough

Money with Mask

The president of Harvard University and his wife just announced that they have tested positive for COVID-19. Their statement highlights the fact that no one is immune to this disease.

As I write this Daily Article Special Edition, congressional and White House officials say they expect to reach a deal today on a nearly $2 trillion measure aimed at easing the economic damage from the coronavirus epidemic.  

Negotiators are laboring in the shadow of what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell calls “the most serious threat to Americans’ health in over a century and quite likely the greatest risk to America’s jobs and prosperity that we’ve seen since the Great Depression.” 

We are facing an unprecedented challenge, at least in my lifetime. We are looking, therefore, for unprecedented responses from medical experts and national leaders. 

Our fear is that this bill, massive though it will be, will not be enough. 

Will it sustain our economy until we can all go back to work? How long will that be? What will be the permanent consequences of this crisis? What will “normal” look like, assuming we return to it? 

If you’re afraid that all our resources are not enough to meet the challenges of our day, I have some good news for you. 

‘Open wide your mouth, and I will fill it’ 

In Psalm 81, the Lord says to his people, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt” (v. 10a). This sentence captures a miracle that transcends anything we can fully comprehend. 

Egypt was the greatest empire the world had ever seen, its military feared the world over. For a fugitive shepherd and two million slaves to defy their pharaoh and defeat their army required a demonstration of omnipotence that changed human history. 

Now, reminding his people of what he has done for them in the past, God encourages them to trust him for what he can do for them in the present: “Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it” (v. 10b). “Open your mouth wide” translates a Hebrew phrase meaning to “open yourself completely.” “I will fill it” could be translated, “I will fill it until it is completely full.” 

However, the Lord could do this for them only if they turned to him and not to themselves or each other. 

Consider the simple metaphor of an empty water bottle. To fill it, first you need to locate a water source. Next, you need to empty it of anything you don’t want to drink. Now, you need to point it at the water source and leave it there until it is full. 

This is just what Scripture has in mind when it commands us to “be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). We ask the Spirit to show us anything in our lives that displeases the Lord, then we confess all that comes to our thoughts. We admit to him that we need his empowering and leading. We ask him to “fill” or control us. And we go forward in faith that he has answered our prayer. 

‘God’s love for his people should not be forgotten’ 

Here’s the tragedy: God’s people did not accept his invitation. They did not turn to him for the help and hope only he could provide. 

Psalm 81 continues: “But my people did not listen to my voice; Israel would not submit to me. So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts, to follow their own counsels” (vv. 11–12). The result was civil war, the destruction of the Northern Kingdom, and the enslavement and exile of the Southern Kingdom. 

None of this had to happen: “Oh, that my people would listen to me, that Israel would walk in my ways! I would soon subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes” (v. 14). Such spiritual consequences would change everything: “Those who hate the Lord would cringe toward him, and their fate would last forever. But he would feed you with the finest of wheat, and with honey from the rock I would satisfy you” (vv. 15–16). 

If we turn to God, he can turn to us. The result will be his best in this life and his eternal reward in the next. 

Henri Nouwen noted: “It is central in the biblical tradition that God’s love for his people should not be forgotten. It should remain with us in the present. When everything is dark, when we are surrounded by despairing voices, when we do not see any exits, then we can find salvation in a remembered love, a love that is not simply a wistful recollection of a bygone past, but a living force that sustains us in the present. Through memory, love transcends the limits of time and offers hope at any moment of our lives.” 

When we remember what our Father has done for us, we find the faith to trust him for what he will do. 

Why do you need to accept your Father’s invitation? 

When you are afraid that all our government and health officials can do is not enough, know that you’re right. Even if they solve this crisis, another one will come. And the mortality rate is still what it was last year. 

The amazing good news is that we have an omnipotent God who is waiting for us to “open your mouth wide” and claim his certain promise, “I will fill it.” 

Why do you need to accept his invitation today? 

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