In the middle of a pandemic that disrupted daily life and dispersed a tight-knit campus community, even the faithful at Grove City College may wonder: Where is God?
“Emmanuel, God, is with us,” Rev. Dr. D. Dean Weaver ’86, interim Grove City College chaplain, said. “He is not only present, but sovereign in all times, including times like this.”
In a reflection of God’s presence with his people, the College’s chapel program will continue to have presence with the now dispersed student body.
Though the chapel program will not be continuing on campus and required chapel credits will be excused, the chapel team will continue to publish encouraging content on the same weekly schedule of Tuesday and Thursday mornings with a Sunday evening Vespers. All are welcome to livestream or watch later here.
As these times call for drastic measures, how should Christians react in light of the pandemic? According to Weaver, Christians must trust in the Lord as commanded by Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
“We must be in the presence of God, for it is there that we can find peace that passes understanding,” Weaver said. “His peace transcends our understanding and guards our hearts and minds as we see in Philippians 4:7.”
“We must recognize that the Holy Spirit hovers over times of chaos,” Weaver said. In Genesis chapter one, the Spirit hovers over the waters and brings order out of chaos. “The Holy Spirit empowers us to bring order into chaos in ways that we can.”
Weaver also noted that one way to bring order is for leaders to be a non-anxious presence. “We as leaders re-order reality to calm anxieties in any capacity that we can because the Spirit dwelling in us enables us to do that,” Weaver said.
Additionally, Weaver emphasized the importance to love our neighbors. “Check in with your neighbors, especially those who are elderly or immune-compromised.” Following necessary social-distancing precautions, Weaver recommended offering to go get groceries, or even helping to set up for them a grocery delivery service.
Though most college students may not be prime targets of the diseases, they can be carriers of the virus. “My encouragement would be for them to ‘consider the needs of the other as more important than themselves’ as Philippians chapter two commands,” Weaver said.
Weaver encourages Christians to keep giving to organizations who are helping those in need like churches and humanitarian relief. “We shouldn’t panic, and we should always trust that the Lord will provide the necessary resources.”
“God is with us,” Weaver said. “We may often question him, but despite our doubts and fears, he is unchangeable and ever present with us.” This is God’s promise, even when we cannot see him, and that “…all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose,” according to Romans 8:28.
Weaver uses a metaphor of a tapestry to explain the reality that God is always working in his perfect plan. “When you look at a tapestry from above, you clearly see the artist’s design in all its beauty. But what you don’t see is the other view: under the tapestry. There you will find only a semblance of a pattern, with loose ends and strands tangled.”
God’s plan is the beautiful, complete tapestry, according to Weaver. “Sometimes, in the truth of God’s word, we get to see glimpses of the beautiful tapestry: God working his plan perfectly,” Weaver said.
But here on earth, people mostly experience reality from the underside of the tapestry where a fallen world is filled with disease, poverty and disasters. “It is filled with choices, decisions, ethics, outcomes and morals. We have the responsibility to be attentive, because we also have the freedom to make choices that can cause bad outcomes,” Weaver said. “Yet God still uses these things for his glory and our good.”
God is sovereign over both good and evil, but what does his sovereignty mean? “God is always in control. There is nothing outside his scope or power of his being. Nothing is outside the purview of his plan,” Weaver said. Not even a deadly pandemic.
We see suffering and we may wonder how God can still be good. “For those who don’t know the Lord, suffering is cruel,” Weaver said. “But God sent his own son, to enter into our suffering, to take on our suffering and to transform our suffering.” Because of the gift of Christ’s death and resurrection, those who believe can have hope even in times of chaos and ruin.
“We must remember, as the Preacher of Ecclesiastes said, that there is nothing new under then sun,” Weaver said. There have been wars, diseases and destruction. “Life can be filled with chaos, but God is sovereignly working everything out as part of his perfect plan,” Weaver said.
“Things are beyond us, and out of our control. But that gives us comfort, because God is in perfect control. God wants us to lean into his control: not just in a pandemic, but in weddings, in births, in deaths, in trials and in triumphs.”