Psalms 4:8 NCV I go to bed and sleep in peace, because, Lord , only you keep me safe.
There is a thin line between testing and trusting God, and during this time of pandemic the distinction is critical. Testing the Lord is, in a sense, daring him to keep you safe. You do this by unnecessarily putting yourself in harm's way. If you drive recklessly, thinking that somehow God will keep you safe from accidents, that is testing. If you spend your money without thought of savings, that is an act of testing God. And if you put yourself in a situation where it is likely that you will catch COVID, that is an act of testing. While God often keeps us safe even when we do stupid things, there is no guarantee that he will do so the next time. Jesus knew the difference and refused to jump off the temple, testing God that he would send his angels to catch him.
Matthew 4:5-7 NCV Then the devil led Jesus to the holy city of Jerusalem and put him on a high place of the Temple. The devil said, “If you are the Son of God, jump down, because it is written in the Scriptures: ‘He has put his angels in charge of you. They will catch you in their hands so that you will not hit your foot on a rock.’ ” Jesus answered him, “It also says in the Scriptures, ‘Do not test the Lord your God.’ ”
On the other hand, trusting the Lord is not living in fear. God has made specific promises to his children to keep us safe.
Joshua 1:9 NCV Remember that I commanded you to be strong and brave. Don’t be afraid, because the Lord your God will be with you everywhere you go.”
Psalms 23:4-5 NCV Even if I walk through a very dark valley, I will not be afraid, because you are with me. Your rod and your shepherd’s staff comfort me. You prepare a meal for me in front of my enemies. You pour oil of blessing on my head; you fill my cup to overflowing.
Of course, he may keep us safe by allowing us to die and bringing us safely home;
2 Corinthians 5:8 NCV So I say that we have courage. We really want to be away from this body and be at home with the Lord.
God makes no promises about the absence of pain and the presence of pleasure. Nevertheless, we can trust that nothing will happen to us that has not filtered through his fingers.
John 16:33 NCV “I told you these things so that you can have peace in me. In this world you will have trouble, but be brave! I have defeated the world.”
But where is the line between testing and trusting? When we have to make decisions in the real world, how do we know what is an act of testing versus trusting? What do we do?
- Pray for wisdom.
- Exercise common sense.
- Check your motives. Are you acting out of fear or indifference?
- Gain wise counsel from godly friends.
If you get it wrong, you get it wrong. It is in the making of decisions and observing the consequences that we learn and grow.
The real challenge is when we think God will keep us safe, and yet we still get in accidents, run out of money, be a victim or racial discrimination,or catch COVID. First thing to do is to re-evaluate your decision.
If you decide you did act in faith, then perhaps God is asking you to continue trusting that he is sovereign over all and that what happened will help to conform us to the image of his Son, to make us look more like Jesus.
At the end of the day, masks will not save us from COVID, and our trust should not be in them. Yes, wear them as appropriate; do not test God. God is in control. It is he who will enable you to "lie down and sleep in peace." It is he who will "make you live in safety."
Do use common sense. It makes sense to be a mask inside and when you can't social distance. This and other issues are real, and we must pray for the wisdom and discernment to distinguish between trust and test, and then continue to believe that our all-loving, all-powerful, all-knowing God is on his throne, working his good in our lives.