Science, Data and Providence
March 26, 2020, 7:00 AM

Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.
~Proverbs 27:1 (ESV)

Been thinking about that proverb lately.

I read yesterday where Virginia Governor Ralph Northam said we needed to rely on “science and data” to get through this pandemic crisis. The “data,” like the Bible, is inerrant and infallible. Seemingly so. The “data” says this crisis is going to last longer than we expect.

Maybe so. Maybe not. Who knows?

Another passage of scripture comes to mind: James. 4:13-15
“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town
and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’” (ESV)

Or, one of my favorites, in the King’s English: Matthew 6:34
“Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” (KJV)

And this: Luke 12:27-32
“Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you. Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (ESV)

Yes, we need science. Yes, we need data. But for followers of Jesus, we’re Trinitarian, so there is a third factor in the mix — God’s Providence! I recognize the pressure political and health leaders have to think long range. To plan. To be prepared by taking extra precaution. To cover all bases in a litigious milieu. However, it is profoundly unwise to think we can predict how this will all shake out. Maybe long; maybe short; maybe somewhere in between. Who knows? Lots of factors to yet play out in this crisis.

The passages I referenced have one common denominator: God’s sovereign. We are not. God is good. We can trust that. This crisis is not taking God by surprise. I don’t know the reasons; but I don’t have to know; I know that I am to be faithful in the midst. Fear not!

I am a big picture optimist. That doesn’t mean I think I’m always going to find a horse in a pile of manure. It doesn’t mean I throw caution to the wind. It means I don’t buy, uncritically into apocalyptic, the-sky-is-falling doomsday pronouncements— See above passages of Scripture! I don’t worry excessively over things I can’t control. I believe that all things do work together for good, to those who are called according to God’s purpose (Rom. 8:28). And. Whosoever names Jesus as Savior is among the called!

Given my proclivities, I’m going to look hopefully to the future. Trusting that God has given us everything we need to sail in these troubled waters. We have doctors, nurses, scientists, specialists of all sorts, truck drivers, retail clerks, workers of every stripe and God’s people to pray and seek mercy at the foot of the Throne of heaven — and together, we are going to make it.

So, after this weekend, we are going to determine, on a week by week basis, when a return to worship is possible. Perish the thought of saying, “We’ll cancel all services through June. Science and data tell us that.” NO! We will take it one week at a time. One week at a time until we see this crisis stabilizing. Maybe sooner. God forbid much later. We won’t be foolish or hard-headed or jeopardize the health of our community. But who knows when when will be? I am living for things to turn around faster! Did I tell you I’m an optimist?

Until we meet again, face to face, please do stay healthy. Be well. Love your neighbor long distance. God bless us all through this.


Oh, and P.S. Please do tune in at 11:00 on Sunday morning. We are audio taping a worship service of sermon, prayer and music for you, and anyone else who stumbles across our Facebook page or web page. The text is from John 11— The Raising of Lazarus. “See you” Sunday.

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