Many of us cannot wait for the Covid-19 pandemic to be over, so that we can return to normal and get back to doing the things we want to do. Lessons learned, and let’s move on. About a week ago, I posted about John the Baptist and what we can learn from his unexpected circumstances. I also quoted Psalm 90:12 – “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” – on another blog about learning from sickness. As if on cue, I got Covid soon after. Much of this week I’ve been too uncomfortable to sleep, but also without enough energy, physically or mentally, to do much of anything. And it would appear I still have more to learn from the pandemic.
What do I mean? Let’s take a look at the Old Testament life of David, and what he learned about trying to get back to normal.
King David’s Lost Decade
David had been anointed king at about age 16 but did not become king until about age 30. Having already been anointed, David was forced into exile by the reigning king Saul, who tried to kill David multiple times. After this, David was kept by force from the throne he knew he would inherit for about 10 years! When David says “wait for the LORD” he knows what he means from hard experience. While David’s behavior in this time was not perfect, he provided some lessons for waiting on God’s deliverance from trials.
First, our timing to receive God’s promises is not God’s timing, and we must trust that His is better. Warren Wiersbe notes that “It’s likely that David’s fugitive years are reflected in Psalms 7, 11–13, 16–17, 22, 25, 31, 34–35, 52–54, 56–59, 63–64, 142–143.” These 22 Psalms are full of testimony of David’s faith that God would sustain him through all trials, that God was in still in control, and that God would always be proven faithful and true. If God had anointed David king, He would get him there when He decided it was the right time. Because David wrote these Psalms during his exile, Wiersbe says “God’s people today can find strength and courage in their own times of testing. Our Lord quoted Psalms 22:1 and 31:5 when on the cross.”
Second, our power comes from God, and we must trust that He knows what it should and shouldn’t be used for. On at least two occasions, David was given an opportunity to seize the kingdom from Saul by violent means. To end his exile on his own terms and timing. 1 Samuel 24:1-7 and 1 Samuel 26:1-11 show Saul completely at David’s mercy, seemingly by God’s Providence, but David knew that if he struck and killed “the Lord’s anointed” he was betraying the Providence sustaining David during his years on the run. Since David was also “the Lord’s anointed”, could he glorify God for preserving his own life, yet apply a different standard to Saul? Would God bless David’s future kingdom if David trusted his own power, instead of relying on God’s power and timing?
David eventually rose to the throne and mourned the death of Saul, who took his own life on the battlefield rather than be captured by the opposing Philistine army. David united the tribes of Israel under his rule, headquartered in Jerusalem, and led the way for the Temple to be built by his son Solomon. While David’s grievous sins, including adultery and murder, had many consequences for himself, his family, and the nation, David always came back to his God and knew where his strength came from.
When forced back into exile by his son Absalom, David returned to the lessons of his earlier exile. David always knew that salvation belongs to the Lord alone, but also seemed aware that salvation was not done yet. He wrote in Psalm 17:15 – “As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness.” While the idea of a future, eternal life was vague in the Old Testament, David knew someday he would meet God and know Him more fully. David knew that as long as he was on earth he was still in exile, awaiting the full salvation of the Lord, which would come in His power and in His timing.
The Lost Pandemic Years
The pandemic seems like an exile from normal life – the life we think we should be living and the life we think we can return to living once the pandemic is over. God has promised heaven, how can this continue? I will eventually be over Covid, and the pandemic will end. However, what we call our normal lives are also lives lived in exile, waiting for the salvation of the Lord. Our normal lives remain interrupted not only by sickness, but also by our sin: our impatience, our frustrated longing for justice, our temptation to take salvation into our own hands, and our inability to love as we would like to be loved. It would appear I still have more to learn from the pandemic.
When we leave the exile of the pandemic for the exile of our normal lives, let’s keep Driving Toward Morning: “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and ball the more as you see the Day drawing near.” – Hebrews 10:23-25
What is “the Day”? It is not the day I get over Covid, or the day when the pandemic is no longer disrupting our everyday lives. It is the Day where not only is every disease defeated, but also the Day we overcome all of our impatience and division and our longing for things to be set right. It is the Day all of our desires are perfected, and in Him all of our perfect desires are fulfilled. The Day we are no longer in exile and see the full salvation of the Lord.