Especially frustrating during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, or “public health emergency” declared in January of 2020 and reportedly repeatedly renewed since, are the seemingly-contradictory scientific conclusions and the resulting constantly-changing guidelines and recommendations from health officials and others who make and execute our public policy.
In general, people probably understand both that scientific findings can change over time and that governmental policies should adapt to the latest findings, but, in regards to the coronavirus, something that can threaten our own physical bodies, scientific credibility apparently has been so undermined that the latest guidelines are largely being ignored, at least locally.
Given the changeable nature of things related to the coronavirus and other earthly matters that we deal with every day, we may all the more appreciate the unchangeable nature of heavenly things that safeguard our own spiritual souls.
For example, there are no changes in the Triune God (Psalm 102:26-27; Malachi 3:6; James 1:17; Hebrews 13:8), and so, contrary to any sort of moral relativism, there are no changes either in God’s law, which shows us our sin, or in God’s Gospel, which forgives our sin for the sake of the God-man Jesus Christ’s death on the cross and resurrection from the grave—and what a blessing that there are no changes to God’s law or Gospel!
We may remain impenitent and unbelieving and so receive God’s unchanging condemnation and wrath (Mark 9:48), or we may be brought by the Holy Spirit to repentance and faith and so receive God’s unchanging forgiveness and salvation (Isaiah 54:10), but changing from wrath to salvation is a change not in God but in us, in our relationship to Him (1 Peter 5:5; Luke 1:52-53; 18:9-14).
The Divinely-inspired author of Proverbs calls us to trust in the always-credible Lord and not to lean on our own sometimes-faulty (even partially-sanctified) understanding (Proverbs 3:5), and God’s sacraments—Baptism, individual Absolution, and the Lord’s Supper—provide objective evidence of His working believers’ forgiveness that can lead to our subjective responses of peace and joy.
We do well to pray both with an evening prayer of the Church that we, “who are wearied by the changes and chances of this passing world, may rest in [God’s] changeless peace” and with hymn-writer Henry Lyte, “Change and decay in all around I see; O thou Who changest not, abide with me” (“Abide with Me”, Lutheran Service Book, 878:4, lines 3-4).
The Rev. Dr. Jayson S. Galler is Pastor of Pilgrim Lutheran Church in Kilgore. You can reach him through the congregation’s website: www.pilgrimlc.org.