Practicing our faith through the times of the Coronavirus

Day 43, April 25, 2020

“God saw all that he had made,
and it was very good”

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…” Those opening words in Genesis chapter one unleash a creative flurry that results in a universe populated with stars and planets, galaxies and nebulae, and the solar system we call our home. Those opening words in Genesis also lead to the amazing display of life that surrounds us here on planet earth. For six days God creates. For six days God declares that it is good. For a sixth day during the Coronavirus Crisis we are exploring the word “Good”.

The sixth day of creation is a special day for us human beings. The sixth day is the day we are created. We do well to take note that we are not created until the sixth day. There is a whole vast universe that comes into being before us. We come at the tail end. The creation story sort of puts us in our place, giving us a healthy dose of humility. At the same time, the creation story has something to say about human life that is absolutely amazing. From Genesis one we realize the sanctity of human life. With reverence and respect, let us hear again the story of our creation.

Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created human beings in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply…” (Genesis 1:26-28)

Created in the image of God, we enter the scene at the tail end of the creation story, and yet God has chosen to put his very own image upon us, within us. When the sixth day comes to an end, the God whose daily refrain has been, “It is good,” now gives a final opinion. “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.”

Genesis one is a crucial chapter in our manual of faith. Genesis one sets the stage. In a world that will often feel chaotic and spinning out of control, we learn right from the start that God is a God of order. God speaks into the chaos and brings order. Days fall into line, the stars and planets get locked into their orbits, mountains rise and seas roar, and human life is portrayed as being full of dignity and honor. Friends, we are created in the image of God. Amazing! We are given the gift of a wonderful life in a world filled with the wonders of life. And when we struggle to understand the meaning and purpose of life God tells us again and again, “It is very good.” With goodness coursing through creation Genesis one shoots us out into a world where God is constantly at work in ways that are so very good, culminating with the coming of Jesus, our Good Shepherd who lays down his life for us.

This past Monday I told Julie about my idea to write seven devotionals devoted to goodness, mirroring the seven days of goodness displayed in Genesis chapter one. I told Julie my idea as we were out on our early morning run. I told her the first day would be that very day, that Monday. She immediately said, “Oh, that’s great. That means on Saturday you will write about the creation of humans, and how we are created in the image of God.” First of all, it is always nice to hear someone affirm your idea with the words, “Oh, that’s great.” I was also very impressed that at 6 am and in the middle of a run she would have the foresight to see that Saturday would be the sixth day, the day when humans are created. Then she said words that are a double-edged sword for the Rhode Island Eberlys. “Saturday will be Clara’s birthday.”

Ah, yes. Today, Saturday, our granddaughter Clara, our only grandchild, turns one year old. She turns one year old in Houston. Pre-Coronavirus we were all set to fly to Houston and celebrate that historic birthday for a precious little girl who has rapidly become the center of our universe. Ouch. And ouch not just for ourselves. Ouch for all the graduates who won’t walk forward to receive a diploma or dance until late at night at a Grad Party. Ouch for all the others who have had a muted celebration of a birthday. Ouch for all the other happenings that have not happened, the hugs and handshakes that have not been shared. And an OUCH in capital letters for those who have lost loved ones. OUCH with heartbroken emojis and capital letters for those who have lost loved ones. And ouch for us, two adoring grandparents who will watch with tears in our eyes as Clara Jean Eberly fills her fingers with frosting and does her very best to blow out that single and solitary candle on her first birthday cake. Ouch.

And yet…what a good day to come to the sixth day of creation, when human beings, male and female, me and you, Clara and her parents Bridget and Jake, what a good day to come to the sixth day of creation, when human beings are created in the image of God…and blessed by God…and placed into a world that God has created, and God has ordered, and a world that when it spins out of control God has redeemed…and a world that when it is all said and done God will have restored to his final and good intentions…so that when the earth makes its last loop around the sun there will be no more sadness, and no more tears, no more crying, and no more pain. When the sun sets on that day, we will hear once again our kind and loving God say those great and glorious, those wise and wonderful words, “It is very good.”

Today, April 25, 2020, the first birthday of Clara Jean Eberly, we do say ouch. It hurts to miss times of celebration. And today, April 25, 2020, a day when we have returned once again to the sixth day of God’s beautiful creation, we also pause to remember that among all the “ouches” of life, there is so much to be thankful for, and so many for whom we are thankful, and so much to look forward to, and looking back, someone who gave his life for us. Among all the “ouches” of life, there is so much for which we give thanks. May we join together to affirm the words our Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer spoke as that sixth day of creation came to a beautiful and satisfying end. “It is very good.”

With the love of Christ,