The past several weeks have been times of unprecedented change. Since the novel, Corona Virus COVID-19 made its appearance on the world stage and began to wreak havoc with our global healthcare systems and the intricately interwoven global economy. While watching the evening news last week (something I do less of these days), my little girl lamented, “Is there anything on this show that’s not about the Corona Virus?” Honestly, she has a point.

The pandemic interrupted our spring break vacation with the first confirmed case in Arkansas on March 12. On Saturday, April 4, we learned that Phillips county had its first confirmed case. According to a news article from KAIT, the Corona Virus entered Claiborne County around March 6-8 at a Kid’s Crusade. Nearly half of the congregation of Greers Ferry First Assembly of God tested positive for the virus two weeks later.

Shortly after we returned home, we learned that school at Marvell Academy was going to be “postponed” for a week, which soon turned in to six weeks. Today Governor Hutchinson announced the cancelation of school for the remainder of the year. Our seniors received the ultimate cure for a case of senioritis before they ever had a chance to feel its effects.

Slowly but ever so surely, our world is contracting around us. Businesses and restaurants closed to the public. Doctors discouraging visits to reduce the potential danger to patients and staff. We were first advised and then mandated to avoid in-person gatherings that exceed ten persons, no non-essential travel, stay at home, and make every effort not to go stir crazy or contract a terminal case of cabin fever.

Last week we observed the closure of State Parks and quickly followed by the closure of hotels, motels, and vacation properties to out of state visitors, who may be a real and present danger to the public health. Walmart limiting the number of persons allowed in the store at one time and the kinds and amounts of merchandise said persons might purchase.

Still, despite our best efforts to slow the spread, every day, the numbers slowly climb (thankfully not at the rates of some surrounding states). Government officials advise us to wash our hands, maintain social distancing, and now even wear gloves and cloth masks to stem the spread. We are all left asking the question, “When will this end?” Legions of healthcare workers, first-responders, and essential services personnel are making the same query with a  far more urgent need to know. In the meantime, COVID-19 consumes our days with projections, graphs, and trends that continue to morphe multiple times daily.

How do we make sense of all this? As people of faith, we have placed our trust in Almighty God. As Easter People, we look to a risen Saviour who told us before he went to the cross, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 Jesus knew that his destiny was the cross. Yet he was aware enough regarding the troubled hearts of his disciples to offer them his peace, God’s peace.

At the time that Jesus is speaking to the disciples, it must have seemed like platitudes. How can you have peace when your teacher is about to be arrested? How can you have peace when you might be in peril of your life just for being one of Jesus’ associates? I cannot imagine them feeling anything akin to peace in the garden when the temple police arrest their master. How could anyone find peace when the power brokers scheme to take the life of an innocent man? What transpires in five short days to cause those who hailed Jesus as “king of Israel” now clamor for his execution? What about skull hill remotely engenders peace?

What the disciples failed to realize is that circumstances do not dictate the terms for peace. Quite the contrary, peace dictates the terms to circumstances. In his letter to the church at Colossae, Paul writes, “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him [Jesus],  and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.  I 1818, Elvina Hall wrote a famous hymn whose refrain sums it all up for me. “Jesus paid it all, all to Him, I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain.” He washed it white as snow. May the Lord make his face to shine upon you and give you peace.        

Pastor Kenny