The hopes and expectations I had that 2020 would be a better year than 2019 didn’t materialize . . . at least not yet. Instead they seem to have imploded. However, as my family has talked about what is happening and what has happened, we still know that God is in control and has not abandoned us (any of us). We personally have felt his hand of protection because of some recent timing of events. My brother was the one who brought these to our attention.
1) Dad passed on January 20. The first case of coronavirus in the US was on January 21.
2) To help my mother through this time, my brother invited her to travel with my niece and join up with him and my sister-in-law in Milan, Italy, for a weeklong trip north. They were to leave March 23. In God’s grace not only did he close that door early, he took all guess work out of it completely, by naming the one city they were to fly into!
3) Prior to Italy, my brother, sister-in-law, and another other niece, her husband, and their six children were going to travel through Israel. That door was shut just a few days later.
As a family we have looked at the grace of God’s timing in all of these situations. How difficult it would have been to deal with dad’s condition with these added stresses. How we had time between Dad's passing and the "shelter in place" order to get all of Mom's financial and legal concerns taken care of. How awful it would have been had the family already been traveling when the outbreak occurred.
We know there are still some uncertain times ahead, and every family will feel the effects of this sinister virus in one way or another, that there will still be hardships and heartbreaks, but we also know that God is good. Satan isn’t, and he is wreaking havoc right now and trying to pin it on God, but God’s light, and grace, and protection, and love are still shining through.
And though we don’t know what the future holds, we do know that God will be with us through it all, for he promised to He will "never leave [us] or forsake [us]." So it is at times like this, when we do feel his protection that we should take a moment where we are, and remember God's providence and protection at this point as Samuel did when he memorialized God’s intervention on behalf of the Israelites against an overwhelming Philistinian attack. He placed a stone of remembrance and said: "Thus far the LORD has helped us” (I Samuel 7:12). And then let that "stone" be a constant reminder that He is still near.