Every generation has man building their Tower of Babels. We build, we strive, we long for modernity and achievement to reach the pinnacle, the peak of the mountain we created, to raise our hands up like Rocky and scream, “I am now God!”
That was the hubris of Satan. That is the hubris of man.
And even in this time of worldwide uncertainty where we are forced to close our doors and sit idly, humankind still tries to shout, “We can do this! We can overcome!”
But what if we take a step back and ask ourselves, “Wait. Can we really do this? Can we really solve the problems of our times? Can we develop a vaccine? Can we bring the economy out of a recession? Can we ease the mourning of those who have lost loved ones and lost the chance to gather and say goodbye?”
Of course, there’s a possibility we can do some of these things but we find ourselves faced with our own fragility in these modern times. One day another virus will come along. One day another disaster, economic or natural, can put our lives in chaos. We must face our continual insufficiencies and inadequacies, weaknesses and failures.
It seems like in the last 50 years, we have been fighting this notion of fragility more than ever, encouraging ourselves to reach for more, thinking of ourselves as higher, better, stronger, more beautiful, more successful. The self-esteem movement has captivated culture with quotes like, “You can do it!” or “You deserve it!” or “You can have it all!” And even in our Christian culture, it’s easy to take verses out of context to put on our chalkboard signs saying, “All things are possible!” or “I can do all things!” without proper reflection of the source of our strength.
Have we forgotten that we are not all-powerful? That we are not all-knowing? That we are not in control? Only God is.
Where are the signs in our homes that say, “I am weak,” or “I am insufficient,” or “I cannot do this myself” or “I am not in control”?
We Are Dust
At a time like this, it’s good to reflect on how fragile we are, how easily we are broken, here today and gone tomorrow. We must understand that God is God and we are not. The psalmist says:
“We are dust. As for man, his days are like grass—he blooms like a flower of the field; when the wind passes over it, it vanishes, and its place is no longer known” (Ps 103:14-16).
Coming to terms with our mortality is essential to right thinking, and thus, encourage us towards right living. Charles Spurgeon said,
“Never fear dying, beloved. Dying is the last, but the least matter that a Christian has to be anxious about. Fear living – that is a hard battle to fight, a stern discipline to endure, a rough voyage to undergo.”
We are mortal; we are fragile. But God loves us still because we are His creation, made in His image; and we are His children, made to be co-heirs with Christ. We have much to be thankful for and look forward to, despite the mortality of our bodies because we cherish the immortality of our souls.
This pandemic should cause us to embrace our fragility. To remind ourselves that even with our advancements in science, our state of the art technology, our unprecedented standard of living, and our greater life expectancy, we can lose it all in a blink of an eye. We are not God.
No Room for Despair
This shouldn’t cause us to despair however. Knowing our weakness and frailty should cause us to run into the loving arms of Christ. It should draw us closer to the one who is omnipotent, omniscient, and all-sovereign. It should remind us that throughout history, God has always been God and we have always been, well, us. He has created, He has transformed, He has redeemed. We have been dependent, we have submitted, we have repented.
Our determination, then, should be one of determining ourselves to trust in God’s actions and overall plan. Our resilience should be one of continuing to share the gospel message to those who haven’t heard. Our perseverance should be one of standing firm on living out life in Christ to everyone around us who needs His love. Our strength should be one that draws from the mightiness of God, not our own or our government or our leaders.
In the midst of seemingly unsurmountable obstacles, let’s remember what needs to be done: Remind ourselves that God is in control. Remind ourselves that we are but a passing shadow, but who is loved immensely by an all-powerful God. Remind ourselves that God is at the pinnacle and not us. And remembering that should ease our anxiety, our angst, our anger.
We are frail. We are not invincible. But God is.