I am with you and will save you,’
declares the Lord.
‘Though I completely destroy all the nations
among which I scatter you,
I will not completely destroy you.
I will discipline you but only in due measure;
I will not let you go entirely unpunished.’
12 “This is what the Lord says:
“‘Your wound is incurable,
your injury beyond healing.
13 There is no one to plead your cause,
no remedy for your sore,
no healing for you.
But I will restore you to health
and heal your wounds,’
declares the Lord,
‘because you are called an outcast,
Zion for whom no one cares.’
Jeremiah 30:11-13, 17 (NIV)
Perhaps the most unsettling fact (and one which should drive all believers to a place of greater dependence upon God alone), is that, as of yet, there is no remedy for coronavirus. No cure, no vaccine, no simple treatment which reduces symptoms or complications. The pervasiveness of the pandemic, and the lack of any surefire way to dodge sickness, has us feeling – to whatever degree – vulnerable, anxious, and hesitant to accept the reality that we need answers we just do not have.
In this passage of Jeremiah, we encounter both the kindness and the severity of God. We, as did Israel, find confidence in the nearness of God – mighty to save, mighty to restore, mighty to regather. Mighty to bring about divine justice on His enemies and those who had persecuted His people in their time of distress. Faithful to care as a trustworthy Shepherd for those whom He has called His own. But God brings Israel face-to-face with a harsh reality: Even in the midst of the promises, in the midst of their election, in the midst of God’s nearness, they are incurably ill. They have a disease with no remedy, and there is no one who can help. Those who courted Israel in the good times are nowhere to be found. And, for her sin, she now sits alone, wounded, ill, with no earthly hope of recovering. The Father makes it abundantly clear in this passage that this incurable disease – this seemingly fatal wound – has come upon Israel because of the desperate state of her own sinfulness.
Like Israel, this time of great uncertainty, of the shaking of the nations, and of the physical presence of an as-of-yet unpreventable disease, can leave us feeling helpless and even despairing. But, in the providence of God who works all things together for good for those who press into Him in love, this can be an opportunity to reflect with truth AND hope on a deeper reality. The truth is, I have an incurable disease. And, so do you! And, so does everyone around you. It is the sinful nature of my flesh. It is the reality that, in myself, there is no righteousness. The diagnosis that, left to my own, apart from God’s intervention, I would have been left to die from the pandemic of sin. We are all subject to an incurable illness for which there is a 100% death rate…
…but the HOPE is that there is One who can, and desires to, ‘restore health’ to Israel and to me. To heal all my wounds and free me from this disease. God was able to offer help, hope, and a cure, to Israel’s incurable disease because He was and is mighty to save and because He knew (as we will see tomorrow in Jeremiah 31) that He would offer a perfect Lamb – His Son Yeshua – whose blood would be the balm and whose own wounds would bring healing and relief from the incurable disease of sin that results in death.
We believe that God, in His mercy and longsuffering, can and will intervene in the coronavirus pandemic. And we pray daily to that end. May we also remember though, that we can believe this BECAUSE of the larger cure He has already brought forth. The cure for sin and death – for Israel if she will receive it, and for you and for me! While we don’t yet see the ‘cure’ or the end of this physical pandemic, we can take hope and rest assured that we have the cure – by His grace through faith – for the greater disease for which there was no cure. And we can share this cure, this hope, this confidence, this relief, this transformative message, with friends, family, and coworkers as they ask the deeper questions during this time. Take Hope!