Trusting v. Testing the Lord in the Pandemic

I have some very close Christian friends who are still gathering with others and going about their business despite shelter-in-place orders.

They tell me they just do what they normally do, trusting God he won’t allow them to get COVID-19.

They think how much you can do in the pandemic depends on how much faith you have.

I’m a product of the so-called Faith Movement, so I’m not unsympathetic to their views, but I’m afraid my friends are misguided, as perhaps others are as well.

In fact, I read a story the other day about a church in New Orleans that is still meeting despite the shelter-in-place orders.

Are such people models of faith, or ignorance, or something else? I actually don’t think this one is too difficult to sort out.

There is a difference between trusting God and testing God. If you intentionally and voluntarily put yourself into a situation, not because you have to but for a selfish reason, that forces God to move on your behalf you are testing God. It’s like a kid who can’t swim jumping into the water in front of his father, knowing it will force his father to jump in to save him. It’s a form of manipulation. This is why when Satan taunted Jesus to throw Himself from the temple to see if God would save Him, Jesus rebuked Satan saying, “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.” Matt. 4:6-7.

On the other hand, if you don’t have a choice, and you must enter a dangerous situation or God commands you to do so, then you do so trusting God, not testing Him. The job of healthcare workers–their role in the kingdom of God–requires them to be in presence of people who may be infected with COVID-19. If they don’t do their job, the whole healthcare system will break down. They should go to work every day praying and trusting God will protect them. That is faith. The same applies to others who are required to work during the pandemic.

Those, on the other hand, who continue to go out with friends and avoid isolation orders and social distancing directives so they can maintain their lifestyle may say they are doing so “in faith” but in reality they are testing God. They are saying, “I’m going to do what I want, and I am demanding you protect me.” Those in this group should not expect that the Lord will answer such prayers. He is not one who subjects Himself to manipulation.

Don’t test the Lord. GS


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