“If someone told you 6 months ago that a global catastrophe would occur in March 2020 of such magnitude that it would grind all industrialized nations to a halt, you’d have thought them insane.”Mark Wanders
A few years ago, we met a man in Florida who was part of a team whose primary goal was to hook you into buying time share vacation property. In sharing about Florida and Disney he boasted that ‘Disney never closes, and it never will’…it was open all day everyday. A conglomerate full-time money-making machine.
The other day my wife informed me that Disney closed due to corona. So much for never closing.
This pictures what’s happening globally. Everything we’ve set up as the triumvirate pinnacles of existence: business, travel, and entertainment, all ground to a halt.
And there we sit, looking around, thinking…how is this possible? ‘We never close.’
Enshrined in our culture of consuming, we pack our schedules, go where we please, and do what we want. Till now.
One little microscopic virus stops the world with unprecedented speed… with such deliberation that one is left aghast. There arises in us a deep sense of wonderment, almost shame, like a betrayal shame… Did we veer off course somewhere that we need such a jolt?
My son shared a Bible passage with me, 2 Chronicles 7. God is speaking to King Solomon, “At times I might shut up the heavens of rain, or command grasshoppers to devour your crops, or send plagues among you. Then if my people who are called by my Name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. …. If you faithfully follow me… I will establish your throne.”
In chapter 6 Solomon himself, wisest ruler ever, prayed that if trials come when the people are straying, and there is a turning in prayer for forgiveness, that God hear and forgive and restore the people to walk in God’s ways…and by extension, because of that, all people of the earth will come to know and fear God!
And now a plague…the COVID-19 virus, is here. It is global. God’s wisdom through Solomon still rings true: to humble ourselves in prayer, seek His face and turn from straying…from betraying… so that all would come to know God!
Go into your room
I find it interesting that in this global crisis governments are calling us to self-isolate and stay in our homes. Wise words; but incomplete. Enhancing that instruction are wise words of Jesus full of hope, “Go into your room, shut the door and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father who sees everything will reward you.”
God who sees all, and knows our needs, wants us to humble ourselves, pray and seek His face, and turn to Him through this crisis.
Business, travel, entertainment, all stopped…and the virus hangs over us all. Will we seek Him?
As individuals, families, groups, churches…and publicly as a nation?
Not the first Global Virus
We cut God out of the picture long ago, betraying He who made us for an idol of Money. We thought as nations, we could rule the world and do as we please, all the while entertaining ourselves to oblivion. Like a global virus, this too spread to all reaches of the earth, leaving behind a trail destruction.
Tell me it isn’t so.
And any time God gave warnings in our world by floods, natural disasters, fires, economic crises, conflict, warfare, uprisings, and more, we’d hardly lift our heads. We were too busy indulging.
Besides, it was never global. It was too easy to shake off as someone else’s problem.
When this all began in China, we hardly bat an eye. It’ll pass…like all other problems!
Then it spread to surrounding nations, and we started to look up. Then Europe…and even our precious North America. I think we are beginning to pay attention now. A global crisis appears to be the only thing to get our attention.
If you are open to it, God, in His grace and love, is calling us to turn back to Him. We veered off globally; now He is calling for our attention, globally.
Shaken to the Core
We realize the seriousness of the day. This is not a short-term crisis where things will soon get back to normal. Nations are being shaken at their very foundations, economies rocked; and this resonates deeply within our own foundation of body and soul. Lives, quite possibly our own, are at stake. Are we ready to turn, even die? Crisis makes us look up, toward the eternal. Response is either adoration and repentance or frustration and a hardening. But God still calls. There is hope. And it goes beyond this world.
Seeing God’s Grace
Grace abounds in crisis. Here’s what I’ve noticed so far.
- God’s warning message is global. In our connected world, word travels fast. Everyone, no matter your status, will have opportunity to hear and think about their life…and death, and the hereafter. God even uses calamity to turn people to Him.
- Everything has slowed, almost stopped, from how it was…all the busyness halted. We’ve been given time to reconnect with what is important. God, family, friends, nature, meditation, prayer.
- Self isolation. An opportunity be alone, reflect, pray and repent. Sometimes, when pain and fear run deep…it’s for our good, to instill in us dependence and hope in Jesus. His words ring clear that prayer to our Father in secret has reward for us – comfort and hope in His Son who conquered this world.
- As fast as COVID-19 has spread, it moves slowly as far as disasters are concerned. Unlike a tsunami or an earthquake which takes life in an instant, without warning, this plague allows for people to pray and think, to prepare and act.
- Grace flows as the sick are cared for. Compassion flows abundantly, around the world, by doctors, nurses, paramedics, drivers, family members, and all those connected to caring for others. We have opportunity to pray for those infected, for caregivers, and for those of us still healthy.
In Grace, the time is Now
Death is never easy to face. But death has been defeated…in Jesus Christ. Sin has been paid for. The time to repent is now. Grace in action includes forgiveness available in Christ, and eternal life in Him. If death does come, all is not lost. To live is Christ, to die is gain. If you do not know the Way and the Truth and the Life in Jesus Christ, grace is extended to you now to explore who He is, what He has done, and why it matters.
In this realm of death on earth, eternal life begins by believing and changing. Jesus Himself said, “I am the resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in me though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
Our Response anchored in Hope
Believing in Christ is key. Putting our hope in Him steadies us in worry and fear.
There’s comfort in knowing our days were ordained before any came to be. And Jesus said we cannot add one hour to our life by worrying. We will live out all our days marked out for us here and have eternity to join Christ beyond this world.
That gives perspective on living today. In the wisdom of God through Solomon, we can…
- Humble ourselves and pray. Acknowledge God as Creator and Sovereign over all and that we His creatures are dependent on Him for all things, in good times and bad. Pray that many would come to know Him through this. All praise and glory belong to Him! His arm is not short; He provides when we ask and gives freely of His Spirit – our source of boldness over fear and power to believe in all situations, even through what seems impossible.
- Seek His face and turn. When we pray and seek God’s face His Spirit convicts us of our smallness and our faults (wickedness) and our need to turn from straying. If there are things you are holding out on towards God, others, or yourself, repent of them. Seek His face, seek His forgiveness. Forgive as you have been forgiven. Let the peace of Christ enter in. Get back on course in serving God with your life in the power of the Spirit.
- Be assured God hears. Our seeking Him is not in vain. He hears and responds when His people cry out to Him. Forgiveness is already ours when we believe in the saving work of Christ at the cross and confess it. God will restore our land. If not here entirely… for certain in the new world to come. He has established His throne in Jesus. His kingdom is coming.
- Walk in God’s ways. Is our walking in love, serving God and neighbour. Finding others that we can encourage and serve – even if for a time from a safe distance away. Call them, text them, pray with them, connect with them in these challenging times as how to best get through each day. Find someone nearby and be of support and help to them, even by just asking how they are doing. Walk in grace and truth and always point to the hope we have in Jesus and His kingdom coming.
- Give thanks in all circumstances. That’s the hard part. Because circumstances are not always easy. That’s why we need to stay close to God and not lose perspective of our circumstances – how it all ties into His eternal plan. Knowing our lives are secure in Jesus, allows for an anchoring of our thanks in the hope we have in Him. Look around and give thanks for what you do have.
Looking Up Again
Despite our opinion as to what’s happening in our world, its shaky kingdoms are grinding to a halt. And we are being given a gracious global opportunity to stop the madness of veering off course and redirect our hearts and lives to look once again to God who is establishing an everlasting kingdom.
Psalm 19 says, “The heavens proclaim the glory of God, the skies His craftmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make Him known.”
We’ve gotten so focused on everything down here that we’ve forgotten to look up and give glory to Creator God. Perhaps God sent something drastic down here to make us look up once again!
How will we use this extended time of grace in this global crisis?