A few months ago, seemingly out of nowhere, the entire world stopped when the pandemic of COVID-19 exploded in countries all over the earth. The first few days were bizarre. Driving down the street and seeing no one out, not being able to go to a restaurant or to church or to do any shopping. Then concerts and sporting events were shut down. Schools across the nation began to close.
What was at first a minor inconvenience became a world-changing event. Grocery stores were overrun as people panicked to stock their homes with food and supplies in order to survive the unknown.
The virus began to spread, and many people got sick. Tens of thousands of people have lost their lives because of it.
As if the suffering and loss of life wasn’t bad enough, widespread fear paralyzed our nation. The world became noticeably quieter over a period of nearly two months. Geoscientists have reported that the daily pulse of the earth dwindled dramatically. Instruments called seismometers capture the everyday hum of humanity — people moving about on cars, trains and planes, and even walking about in public places — in what is sort of a seismically detectable heartbeat. But because of the coronavirus, geoscientists reported upwards of a 60% drop in the activity of the earth. In a matter of just a handful of weeks, the roar of urban life turned into a whisper all over the world.
And with that whisper came the dreadful fear of an impending economic catastrophe. Small businesses were forced to close their doors, some of which will never open again. Many lost their jobs as financial instability and unemployment numbers skyrocketed.
And then, we found out that the coronavirus was only the beginning of the turmoil.
As the country was slowly beginning the process of opening back up, the world’s pulse quickened.
George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man in Minneapolis, Minnesota – who from every indication in all the surveillance video that has been released offered no form of resistance nor presented any present danger to anyone else – was killed by a white police officer. Excessive force by the officer continued to the point of having his knee pinned against Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and forty-six seconds. Onlookers desperately cried for him to stop. Floyd begged for his life. But the officer did not relent. The actions proved fatal, and George Floyd lost his life in what can only be called senseless, irresponsible, and negligent at best. Or perhaps, even worse, racist, hate-filled, and malicious.
The excessive and senseless activity of a white police officer against a black victim, all caught on video, went viral as social media and news outlets showed the brutal treatment of a man who was non-violent and non-resistant and who ultimately lost his life.
This was not the first time that the black community had cried out for justice. Time and time and time again, our nation has watched as generations of racism and oppression of those with darker skin has resulted in tragic and unnecessary deaths. Time and time again, the black community has cried out for justice, but these tragic deaths of unarmed, non-violent people with black skin has continued to occur.
But this time, the camel’s back finally broke. George Floyd’s death was especially egregious. It was caught on video from start to finish. It was on the heels of other potentially racially-motivated deaths. And, it came at the climax of a society that has been pent up for months inside their homes.
And so organized protests began. Protests calling for the arrest and prosecution of the Minneapolis officers. Protests calling for justice and for the end of these terrible acts. Protests calling for change.
But some protests became violent. They became dangerous riots. They included mass lootings of large corporations and small businesses. They included tearing down monuments and burning down buildings. They included demonstrations of violence and excessive vandalism and complete neglect for the civil authorities. They included verbal and physical berating of law enforcement officers and special military personnel.
And these riots weren’t limited to the city of Minneapolis. Riots have taken place in seemingly every large metropolitan area across the nation. In fact, some reports indicate that protests of some sort have occurred in all fifty states.
These riots have resulted in countless amounts of crimes of stealing, vandalism, assault, and more. Property has been completely destroyed, businesses have been ruined, police have been left battered and beaten, and our society’s leaders are left without answers to the civil disobedience and unrest.
Countless injuries have occurred as a result of the pandemonium happening in our nation, and what is worse, many more people have died.
By all accounts, the world seems to have gone crazy. The world seems to be turning upside down. It seems to be falling apart.
But Christians understand it differently.
Christians know that the world hasn’t gone crazy. The world hasn’t turned upside down. The world isn’t falling apart. The world is simply being the world.
Sometimes, the world doesn’t appear as chaotic and crazy as it does right now. Because sometimes, in his grace, God restrains the evil.
In Genesis 20, Abraham is introduced to King Abimelech. And out of fear, he lies to him and says that his wife, Sarah, is his sister. So the Bible says that Abimelech took Sarah. But God came to Abimelech in a dream and said to him, “Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man’s wife.”
But Abimelech hadn’t approached Sarah. He hadn’t acted inappropriately toward her. He had remained innocent. And what is more, he had been lied to. So he didn’t know that she was married, and still he didn’t have any inappropriate activity with her.
God’s response to him is incredible. He says, “Yes, I know that you have done this in the integrity of your heart, and it was I who kept you from sinning against me. Therefore I did not let you touch her.”
God did not let him touch her. God kept Abimelech from sinning. God restrained that evil.
We may never know the amount of sin that God prevents from happening on this earth.
But sometimes, God allows the evil to occur. Sometimes, God hands people over to their sinful hearts. And the world gets to be the world.
Sinful hearts who hate other image bearers are allowed to demonstrate their hate. Racism and violence and thievery and vandalism and murder and maliciousness and everything in between comes to the surface. When God lessens his restraint on sin, the world looks like it implodes.
But that’s the nature of the world. The world hates God. The world hates people. The world simply hates.
The world hasn’t gone crazy. The world is just being the world.
Only the gospel of hope can change a hopeless world. Only the good news of the perfect Son of God dying on the cross for sinners can transform a heart of hate. Only God can bring new life to a spiritually lifeless world.
Otherwise, the world will continue to be exactly what we’ve seen it to be.