The Pastor's Pen
It is Wednesday morning, March 18, 2020, as I set out to write this devotional thought to my church family and friends. Our church leadership has decided that shutting down our services is wise, prudent, and in cooperation with the national effort to flatten the curve of the coronavirus. Being part of the national solution is a good thing! We can make a difference if we maintain an offensive and unified response. It’s an all for one, and one for all offense. Let us all stand on the frontline of this invisible war and say, “This far and no further.”
The Trump Administration has put out “The President’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America: 15 Days to Slow the Spread.”
- If you feel sick stay home. Do not go to work. Contact your medical provider.
- If your children are sick, keep them at home. Do not send them to school. Contact your medical provider.
- If someone in your home has tested positive for the coronavirus, keep the entire household at home. Do not go to work. Do not go to school. Contact your medical provider.
- If you are an older person, stay home and away from other people.
- If you are a person with a serious underlying health condition that can put you at increased risk (for example, a condition that impairs your lung or heart function or weakens your immune system), stay home and away from other people.
Also, practice regular hygiene: Wash your hands, hand sanitizer, avoid touching your face, avoid close contact, no hugging, no shaking hands, social distancing, cover your mouth when coughing, wipe down your home surfaces with Clorox Wipes, doorknobs should be wiped down, etc. I’ve even heard of washing the clothes you wear daily and bathing each day. In other words, common sense hygiene will help flatten the curve of this highly contagious virus. We are fighting a war with an invisible enemy, but it is a winnable war. The Psalmist instructs us that such a pestilence walks in darkness, meaning it is hidden (Psa.91:6).
Above all things, let us not live in fear but remain calm in the knowledge that our sovereign God is always in control of his creation. Let us daily ask the LORD to protect us, our love ones, our neighbors, and our nation. Remember the words of Isaiah, “Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that he cannot hear (59:1).”
Times That Try Men’s Souls
The year was 1776. The colonists were in the middle of declaring their independence from the British Empire. This is called the American Crisis. One man who supported the separation of the colonist from the British Empire was Thomas Paine. To bolster morale, he wrote an essay entitled, “American Crisis: Common Sense.” His first volume famously begins, “These are the times that try men’s souls.”
There should be no doubt we have entered a season of history where we are presently threatened with an invisible and extremely contagious enemy, the Coronavirus (Psalms 91:6). It might be, and we don’t know yet, but I would suspect that this crisis, as any crisis, may indeed, “Try our souls.”
Isn’t that what a crisis does?
It tests the spiritual fortitude of the soul.
I think so.
To be sure the body is involved. It is a virus and viruses affect health. We pray for those so afflicted, “Help them, LORD, to overcome. And protect and strengthen our first responders as they selflessly attend to others. There is a health crisis and with God’s help, we will overcome." The trying of the soul is also a spiritual crisis. In times of hardship, we will see both the good of our species and the bad. God help us to see more of the good!
No one likes to go through a crisis.
Our prayer is that it will pass, ...and soon.
It may be a slow passing. Whether slow or not, let us claim the calm and peace of GOD that a rainbow is coming (Gen.9:14). Doing what we must do to weaken and eradicate the virus, we can be assured that GOD is doing His part and His will to our good (Romans 8:28).
What to do?
First, never lose sight that our God is in the control business. If HE were not, the alternative would be disastrous. Indeed, humanity would never have walked outside the Garden of Eden. No, our God is always directing, demonstrating, orchestrating, and yes, controlling his creation. We don’t have to wonder if there is light at the end of the tunnel because God has told us, “Yea, thou I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil (pestilence): For thou art with me...(Psalms 23:4).”
There GOD is!
He is there in the valley of gloom and threat of doom.
God is our shining LIGHT, who rebukes the dark and reminds us we are not alone.
GOD is in the control business. He is controlling the pestilence in the midst! Never forget that! And never allow fear of the unknown to weaken your faith. Learn in times of darkness to say as Joseph said to his brothers: “But as for me, you thought evil against me; but GOD meant it for good... (Genesis 50:20).”
Dear brothers and sisters! Nothing catches our GOD by surprise. You can rest tonight in calm and peace. Therefore, let us be about our business at hand: striving to be on the offensive against this invisible enemy.
GOD is leading the charge.
He’s in control.
Let’s do what needs to be done, trusting that the sun will indeed rise in the morning.
Second, pray for deliverance from the pestilence. Jesus was an encourager and obviously, a practitioner of prayer. He instructed us, “...men ought always to pray, and not faint (Luke 18:1).” It was a good thing that President Trump called the nation to prayer last Sunday. We love our President. We thank him for doing the first thing, the right thing, seeking the mercies of God, first. We pray for our president. We can only imagine the burden he carries every single day.
But we should pray.
We must pray.
Let us call ourselves to prayer!
Pestilence is a terrible adversary. As the people of GOD, I call our church to a season of prayer. It is time. Let us give ourselves to prayer “3” times a day for deliverance from this scourge of death and suffering. We need healing in our land and healing for all the nations (2Chronicles 7:14). Ask the LORD to be merciful. Let us confess our sins before HIM and seek forgiveness. Plead with HIM to be our Shield of protection and our Mighty Deliverer. Deliverance will come as we place our trust in HIM (Psalms 91:6).
Let us not forget that pestilences, as other catastrophes like famine, floods, etc. in the Bible, have a judicial character associated with them. When Moses was dealing with a hardened Pharaoh, he said to him: “...the God of the Hebrews hath met with us: let us go, we pray thee, three days' journey into the desert, and sacrifice unto the LORD our God; lest he fall upon us with pestilence... (Exodus 5:3).
Is this pestilence in our midst judicial? Or, is it just a fluke, an unfortunate life crisis? I think I would say, “God always speaks to us through the crises of life. For a people of faith, we know this: If GOD did not do it, HE allowed it. And if HE allowed it, “What is he saying?”
We should think about this.
Maybe we should listen more closely.
One thing above all is for sure, “We must pray.”
And third, fear is its own worst enemy. Fear of the unknown can be crippling emotionally, if not mentally. “27” times in the NT, the phrase, “Fear not” can be found. In 2Timothy 1:7, we read, “For GOD hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” Others, who know not our GOD and Savior Jesus Christ, may live in fear but not the blood-washed saints of GOD.
Because the blood-washed, sanctified saints of GOD are as Paul defined us, “...more than CONQUERORS through HIM who loved us (Romans 8:7).” We are in complete agreement with the Psalmist who wrote: “Surely, HE will deliver thee...from the noisome pestilence (91:3).”
God is controlling his creation, the earth, and the people in it. So, let us enter a season of prayer, praying “3” times a day for God’s mercy and deliverance from this global pestilence. May His will be done. Rebuke fear, trust in the LORD, stay on the offensive with this virus and by the grace of GOD, we will persevere. To God be the GLORY!
STAY STRONG IN THE FAITH! Dr. Paul