Brad Littlejohn recently wrote a revealing article in World magazine entitled, “One lesson of the pandemic? Humility.” “The Covid-19 pandemic has been an invitation for humility,” notes Littlejohn, “the humility to know that we are only part of nature, not its masters, and the humility to remember that whatever choices we make are constrained by the choices of countless others.”
We need to remember that we live in a “world of tragedy.” This idea is hard for our culture to accept since we see ourselves having mastery over the forces of nature. Instead of being humbled by the virus, we have played the blame game, insisting that someone else is responsible. We prefer to believe that what happens in our world must be the product of human causes.
As a nation we went into management mode, assuming that Covid was simply another problem that modern science and government could solve. But we are slowly realizing we are not in charge. We are, submits Littlejohn, “at the mercy of the awesome forces of nature, which God wields in judgment to remind us of how small we humans are.”
The word that comes to mind is “arrogance.” Merriam-Webster gives the following definition: “exaggerate one’s own worth or importance often by an overbearing manner; showing an offensive attitude of superiority; characterized by arrogance.” The Psalmist warns, “The arrogant cannot stand in your presence; you hate all who do wrong” (Ps. 5:5).
God will not allow the arrogance of men to go unanswered: “The arrogance of man will be brought low, and the pride of men humbled; the Lord alone will be exalted in that day, and the idols will totally disappear” (Isaiah 2:17). Covid could be evidence of this taking place. In Isaiah 13:11 the Lord tells us, “I will punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins. I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty and will humble the pride of the ruthless.”
We cannot hide our arrogant intentions from the Lord. “Woe to those who go to great depths to hide their plans from the Lord, who do their work in darkness and think, ‘Who sees us? Who will know?'” (Is. 29:16). The pandemic is opening our eyes to our arrogance. “You felt secure in your wickedness. ‘No one sees me,’ you said. But your ‘wisdom’ and ‘knowledge’ have led you astray, and you say, ‘I am the only one and there is no other'” (Is. 47:10 NLT).
Men, we are witnessing the humbling of our nation. The pandemic has only exposed the “whitewashing” we have done, by ignoring the cracks in the very foundation of society. “Because they lead my people astray, saying, ‘Peace,’ when there is no peace, and because, when a flimsy wall is built, they cover it with whitewash, therefore tell those who cover it with whitewash that it is going to fall…When the wall collapses, will people not ask you, ‘Where is the whitewash you covered it with?'” (Ezekiel 13:10-12).
In our corporate arrogance we continue to believe the message of peace, while our flimsy walls are covered with whitewash to hide the cracks. Men, this kind of whitewashing cannot go on. Joel warns us, “For the day of the Lord is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty” (Joel 1:15).
Take heart, however, because we belong to a kingdom that cannot be shaken: “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our ‘God is a consuming fire.’” (Heb. 12:28-29).