The Covid outbreak is having some interesting effects on our self-understanding, and how that relates to knowing our God of wonders. One thing the outbreak has demonstrated abundantly is that humans aren’t quite as untouchable as we might like to think. Something as microscopic as the coronavirus (about 120 nanometres in diameter if you’re interested!) has turned our world upside down.
Yet we live in a world which prizes human independence. Parents aim to ‘raise independent thinkers.’ Autonomy and independent decisions are the highest of moral principles. Meanwhile, my time spent as a care-of-the-elderly doctor showed me plainly that many people harbour deep fears of becoming dependent on others around them.
The coronavirus has challenged our carefully cultivated independence illusion. Pulled apart from friends and family, why do we find ourselves not feeling entirely whole? Because we need them. For those who have been forced into complete self-isolation, having to rely on others to do things as normal as fetching our shopping is difficult.
But perhaps there is something in this to learn from. Perhaps there is a reminder here that we were never as independent as we thought.
Read these verses from Revelation 4:11 and chew them over:
‘You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.’
It’s the crescendo of an amazing chapter filled with the glory of the God who is Holy, Holy, Holy, a chorus of praise directed to the Creator God. What makes Him worthy of this? As the Creator, he is the one on whom literally everything else in existence depends. Nothing that you can see, hear, or touch right now as you read this would exist if it weren’t for God’s will. Even you, yourself, with all the complexities and wonder that make you exist because God willed you to.
This is wonderfully profound. Have you ever asked why God created everything? Have you ever asked why God created you? Some argue that there was some need or other in him that couldn’t be fulfilled without creating. But these verses point in another direction. God’s will is never prompted from the outside like ours is. When I reach for a biscuit because I feel hungry, my hunger drives me to act. But when God created, he acted in total freedom. He wasn’t coerced by anything outside of himself. He made you because it pleased him to make you in love. He made you because he wanted to!
Which means that we are all totally and utterly dependent on God. Literally the breath you take this very second is given by him.
But, why is this good news for us in this season? Because our dependence contrasts with his independence. The reason why God creates freely, the reason why his will is not coerced in any way (unlike ours), is because he does not depend on anything but himself. He is totally self-sufficient.
That can feel like a slightly obscure truth to get our heads around but think about what it means for a minute. All the resources God needs to make us, sustain us, rescue us from our sinfulness, or to keep every single one of his gracious promises, are completely available to him, because they are all from him in the first place. There are enough gifts from his self-sufficiency to satisfy all creatures that shall ever come into existence!
In the end, that means that this coronavirus-affected season offers a wonderful opportunity: We can remember that we are creatures, and so be reminded of one of the most foundational truths about what it means to be human.
What does that mean for you in particular? It means God is sufficient for you. You already are totally dependent on him, and you can rely completely on him. So you can rest, knowing that if he is for us, none can be against us, and he is wonderfully for us in Jesus.
That is a truth deep enough to mine while everything else feels like it’s being turned upside-down.
Onwards, to Glory!