Do not put the Lord your God to the test. – Numbers 6:16a
A storm came into town and officials sent out an emergency warning that the riverbanks would soon overflow and flood the nearby homes. They ordered everyone to evacuate immediately.
A faithful Christian man heard the warning and decided to stay, saying to himself, “I will trust God, and if I am in danger, then God will send a divine miracle to save me.”
The neighbors came by his house and said to him, “We’re leaving and there is room for you in our car, please come with us!” But the man declined. “I have faith that God will save me.”
As the man stood on his porch watching the water rise up the steps, a man in a canoe paddled by and called, “Hurry into my canoe, the waters are rising quickly!” But the man said, “No thanks, God will save me.”
The flood rose higher, and the man had to retreat to the second floor. A motorboat came by and saw him at the window. “We will come up and rescue you!” they shouted. But the man waved them off, saying, “Use your time to save someone else! I have faith that God will save me!”
The flood waters rose higher and higher, and the man had to climb up to his rooftop.
A helicopter spotted him and dropped a rope ladder. A rescue officer came down the ladder and pleaded with the man, “Grab my hand and I will pull you up!” But the man still refused, folding his arms tightly to his body. “No thank you! God will save me!”
Shortly after, the house broke up and the floodwaters swept the man away and he drowned.
The man stood before God and said, “I put all of my faith in you. Why didn’t you save me?”
And God said, “Son, I sent you a warning. I sent you a car. I sent you a canoe. I sent you a motorboat. I sent you a helicopter. What more were you looking for?”
When the Israelites were in the wilderness, before they reached the Promised Land, they had quite a few problems. Often, these problems revolved around their expectations of God: that with God by their side, they shouldn’t face any problems. It didn’t quite work out that way. They got hungry and thirsty. They got lost. They got attacked. In every circumstance, they expected to sit by and watch God fix it. They had to be reminded not to test God, but instead to trust God.
Lately, I’ve heard a variety of Christian people arguing that Christians should be unafraid of the COVID-19 virus because God will protect us. They’ll go on to say that wearing masks or staying home from worship is unfaithful. It makes me so nervous.
Being a Christian isn’t like a magic spell that protects us from all harm. It’s not a talisman that wards off disease. It isn’t an amulet that guards against trouble. When we reduce our faith to expecting God to protect us from all harm, we’re not trusting God; we’re testing God. Testing God means demanding God to behave according to our expectations instead of conforming ourselves to God’s expectations.
Trusting God is different. Trusting God means that Christians heed the wisdom of those working hardest to keep us safe: in this case, that means trusting the doctors and public health workers who agree that, right now, staying home and maintaining social distancing is the best way to keep our community safe. We all do our part because that’s what a body does—it works as one. We are the body of Christ. That’s one of the ways God provides for us.
Let us walk together as one body. Let’s trust what God has provided, not test God by looking for something else. Let’s take care of one another, trusting God and the knowledge God has given through medicine. God has provided everything we need. We put our trust in God.