As our “todays” continue to drag into familiar repetitions of the “yesterdays” that preceded them, multitudes across the land and around the world struggle to find reasons for optimism and hope. Recent attempts to insert a positive note with talk of getting back to work are countered with more prophets of doom warning us of a “second wave” of Covid-19 waiting to be unleashed on us in the fall. This global pandemic has rapidly spread across the lives of millions like a dark, toxic cloud. For months now, fear and dread have blotted out the warm, energizing light of cherished plans and dreams that used to greet our mornings. Many have felt incarcerated in their own homes and long for someone to come up with an uplifting and unifying new perspective that will help pull us out of this morass of misery. The situation brings to mind the aftermath of another event that spread death, destruction, and economic disaster around the world over a century ago.
An Uplifting New Idea ~
At that point, the world was reeling from the impact of a different kind of war than the one we’re fighting now, but the prevailing atmosphere today reflects a similar kind of uncertainty and anxiety about the future that was so widespread back then. A badly needed injection of hope and optimism was provided when a simple phrase caught on and managed to go viral without the benefit of a social media platform. The phrase probably arose from a series of articles published by H.G. Wells in London in late 1914, although it is sometimes attributed to Woodrow Wilson. In any case, both men referred to World War I as “the war to end all wars.” Soon the words were pouring forth from the lips of multiplied millions.
The concept painted a new picture of the future for people on both sides of the conflict. Images of cities and towns reduced to smoldering rubble, of lush countrysides turned into bare, scorched earth littered with dead bodies, and of homeless, poverty-stricken survivors struggling to stay alive were replaced by the picture of a world that would never again have to face the unthinkable cruelty of war. The awful price they paid might be worth it if victory in the last war ensured that the next one would never begin. The idea that war itself had been defeated brought a sense of relief that flowed like a healing balm over grieving hearts and minds around the world.
Short-lived Hope ~
Unfortunately, as all of us know, that sense of relief was more short-lived than anyone would have suspected at the time. Political and ideological differences weren’t eliminated with the Armistice signed in 1918, and the “war to end all wars” . . . didn’t. With depressing rapidity, the world was back at it again with renewed vigor. They discovered that envy, fear, and hatred were alive and well, and more effective ways to kill one another than ever before had been developed. Although the hope for an enduring end to war failed to unfold, the deep longing that it represents lives on.
Even as our frontline warriors battle the unseen viral enemy plaguing us today, we’re discovering once again that the victory we really want lies beyond this present war. We want victory over more than this particular breed of virus. What we really want is a victory that defeats the next one, and the one after that, and so on. Scientists from all kinds of specialized fields are working around the clock to create a vaccine that will end this plague. But even when that marvelous potion is finally developed, no one is likely to declare that the devastating war against Covid-19 was a war to end all viral wars. We instinctively know that another one is coming, maybe even another invasion by some altered version of this one. So, does that mean every victory we win is only temporary, and that every hope for enduring deliverance is doomed to eventual disappointment? Is the quest for an ultimate end to suffering and death only a psychological mechanism we contrive to provide an escape from overwhelming heartache and grief?
An Impossible Quest ~
If a permanent victory that eliminates any and all future threats is an impossible dream, then why do our hearts still long for it? Maybe we keep pursuing a lasting, idyllic end to all our pain and suffering because the God who created us wants the same thing and purposely planted that vision in our hearts. That dream of finally winning a war that ends the possibility of another one, or of finding a cure that eliminates our susceptibility to disease itself, is compelling, but doomed to frustration and failure. Enduring peace has eluded every human contrivance and strategy because the truth is that the real enemy is us, or rather, the flaws and corruption that characterize our own fallen nature. God has made it clear since the beginning that if we’re to ever find a victory that lasts, we must look somewhere beyond ourselves.
Throughout His ministry, Jesus targeted the underlying sources and overt symptoms associated with our pain and suffering and proved His power over them. He demonstrated what God’s love really looked like and conducted a systematic campaign against disease and human disabilities. Matthew reports on one occasion this way:
Jesus departed from there, skirted the Sea of Galilee, and went up on the mountain and sat down there. Then great multitudes came to Him, having with them the lame, blind, mute, maimed, and many others; and they laid them down at Jesus’ feet, and He healed them. So the multitude marveled when they saw the mute speaking, the maimed made whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel. Matthew 15:29-31 (NKJV)
Only a Glimpse ~
Jesus brought miraculous deliverance to multitudes, but as powerful as His ministry was, it only represented a brief glimpse of what He really came to do. He freed victims from the paralyzing grip of all kinds of personal enemies, even death, but in every case those He delivered would discover that in this world, other foes would always be waiting somewhere down the road. Total victory couldn’t be declared until the source of conflict itself was finally defeated. Ultimate healing couldn’t be achieved until the possibility of another disease was eliminated, and that’s what Jesus really came to do.
On a battlefield called Golgotha, Jesus fought the final decisive battle against the root cause of every war. His body was ravaged on our behalf with the pain and affliction of every disease and finally, death itself. That was the only war that will finally end all wars.
It will be a day to remember when a vaccine against Covid-19 is developed, but another plague will be coming. Only in Jesus Christ can we find what we really want, and what God always planned . . . peace that can never be lost, the ultimate removal of every defect, and immunity against disease forever. Isaiah described God’s means of accomplishing that with beautiful simplicity:
Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:4-6 (KJV)
“TWEETABLES” ~ Click to Tweet & Share from the pull quotes below. Each quote links directly to this article through Twitter.
- “Maybe we keep pursuing a lasting, idyllic end to all our pain and suffering because the God who created us wants the same thing and purposely planted that vision in our hearts.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “Enduring peace has eluded every human contrivance & strategy because the real enemy is us, or rather, the flaws and corruption that characterize our own fallen nature. Lasting victory is only found in looking somewhere beyond ourselves.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “On a battlefield called Golgotha, Jesus fought the final decisive battle against the root cause of every war. His body was ravaged on our behalf with the pain and affliction of every disease and finally, death itself.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “Only in Jesus Christ can we find what we really want and what God always planned . . . peace that can never be lost, the ultimate removal of every defect, and immunity against disease — forever (Isaiah 53:4-6).” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
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Well said my friend. I look not for a vaccine to this latest malady, but to the time when no vaccine is needed ever again; for every pain, ailment, injury, and injustice will be banished for eternity. What happens to me in this life is not nearly as important to me as how well I am preparing for the next chapter. God’s blessings Pastor Ron.
I love your comparison of our current situation to the World Wars. Soon we will forget them as our WWII veterans pass away. We are in a spiritual battle right now, and my hope is in Jesus! Without the blood of Jesus, we have no hope at all. I am so encouraged to see how God is using this pandemic for His ultimate good.
I am so very far behind in saying so, Susan, but I am very grateful for your gracious response. As most of our friends know, we’re involved in a move from VA to TN, and the multitude of things associated with buying one house and trying to sell another is wreaking havoc on my schedule. Please forgive me for being so slow in acknowledging your note. Hopefully, I’ll be more on track in a few weeks. Meanwhile, God bless you for your faithful stand at a time when it is so desperately needed.
Only in Jesus is true peace and comfort to be found. This world can’t, and never will be able to, provide that. Believers can have hope only because Jesus has won the ultimate victory for us.
Trying to orchestrate our move to TN is really destroying my routines and schedules, Martha, but please know that I do read and treasure your responses and your consistent encouragement. Someday soon, I’ll be more prompt in getting to you. Till then, my gratitude and prayers for God’s blessing on your ministry continue.