The tremendous, rapid change that occurred surrounding COVID-19 from Sunday to Sunday this past week is mind-boggling. Life in the world as we know it has changed dramatically in the span of a few short days. A workweek that started with cautious optimism ended with our President announcing a National Declaration of Emergency. The changes from Tuesday to Thursday and then from Thursday night to Friday evening surely rattle even those most strongly rooted in their faith. Images of 9-11 and memories of the onset of the 1980s AIDS epidemic come to my mind.
On the Front Lines
Making my chaplain rounds this past week, I encountered an increasing amount of worry, confusion, and exasperation in many of the people I am ministering to in their respective workspaces. I’ve had people ask me questions running the gamut from why God allows us to suffer to how can we best pray for God to help deliver us from this evil. People’s reactions to the spread of COVID-19 has been mixed. Some take it more seriously than others. Hardly anyone discounts that COVID-19’s impact is far-reaching and its effect remains to fully be seen. The stock market is crashing one minute, soaring the next. People are hoarding toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and buying up all kinds of stuff in Black Friday style. There are people who remain optimistic. There are others who are prepping for doomsday.
Truthfully, I don’t really know. I’m no expert on COVID-19. I’m not a doctor or a scientist. What I do know is that God is trustworthy and remains in control amidst this chaos rocking our lives. It is a time that tests our faith and courage. It is also a time that calls for us to exercise wisdom beyond measure and for us to act responsibly.
This past week, the words of the psalmist in Psalm 91 came up several times. Its words are encouraging and reassuring and should give the reader confidence. Our God is faithful and trustworthy. God is our dwelling place during these tumultuous times.
1 The one who lives under the protection of the Most High
dwells in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,my God, in whom I trust.”
3 He Himself will deliver you from the hunter’s net,from the destructive plague.
4 He will cover you with His feathers;
you will take refuge under His wings.
His faithfulness will be a protective shield.
5 You will not fear the terror of the night,
the arrow that flies by day,
6 the plague that stalks in darkness,
or the pestilence that ravages at noon.
7 Though a thousand fall at your side
and ten thousand at your right hand,
the pestilence will not reach you.
8 You will only see it with your eyes
and witness the punishment of the wicked.
9 Because you have made the Lord—my refuge,the Most High—your dwelling place,
10 no harm will come to you;
no plague will come near your tent.
11 For He will give His angels orders concerning you,
to protect you in all your ways.
12 They will support you with their hands
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the young lion and the serpent.
14 Because he is lovingly devoted to Me,I will deliver him;
I will protect him because he knows My name.
15 When he calls out to Me, I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble.
I will rescue him and give him honor.
16 I will satisfy him with a long life
and show him My salvation.
The words of the psalmist remind us that we can count on God during the most difficult circumstances and scariest situations. God is the sovereign ruler who has all the power. He is a sturdy shelter during the darkest storms and a safe refuge in times of grave danger. God does not abandon us. The Lord has not forgotten us. We are not promised to live a life that is free of suffering or free of disease. From my own study of God’s word, I don’t believe suffering and disease are what God wanted us to experience initially. In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, He saw that everything was good and there is no evidence of pain, suffering, or death. However, these challenges are an unfortunate consequence of living in a fallen world. Fortunately, we know that through the atoning sacrifice of His son, Jesus Christ, God has taken the necessary steps to ultimately make all things right. As believers, we can rest secure in the promise that through Jesus Christ, our salvation has been fully secured and paid for through His sacrifice and shed blood on the Cross.
That doesn’t make the present-day troubles we deal with, like COVID-19, go away or even easier to handle. But through an active, trusting daily walk with God, we can find assurance, comfort, and relief. We can lay our cares and burdens at His feet. We can share our fears and worries with Him. We can encourage one another and lift each other up as we venture through the valley of the shadow of death, knowing that He is with us wherever we go and that His rod and staff guide us and comfort us. In Christ, we are never going it on our own. Through the Holy Spirit, He is with us.
That knowledge should give us the confidence to face whatever this world throws at us. We need not be afraid. We can walk boldly, knowing that He has given us the tools to fight our battles and that we never fight them alone.
We can also use the wisdom God has given us, following the suggestions and proclamations our leaders and authorities have provided us. Those of us who are able can work from home. We can practice social distancing, taking steps to minimize the community spread of COVID-19. And we can all WASH OUR HANDS. We can follow the CDC guidelines and share that information with family and friends. These are a few steps we can take to help flatten the curve.
We can also remember to treat people like we would like them to treat us. COVID-19 doesn’t erase our ability to be kind, to be loving, to extend common courtesy. It doesn’t hinder us from lending a helping hand to our neighbor or listening to a worried friend. We can serve, give, and love.
Our Enemy-the Devil- surely seeks to use this as an opportunity to separate us from God and keep us from loving one another. The Good News is that we don’t have to let that happen.
Be wise, don’t act foolishly or recklessly. From all accounts, this is a SERIOUS disease. But at the same time, don’t forget in the dark what God revealed to you in the light. Love the Lord, your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, love your neighbor as yourself (Luke 10:27).
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May the LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you, the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.
Continue to keep the faith. Love one another. This too shall pass.
The Devotional Guy™
ABOUT: The Devotional Guy™ is a writing ministry of Chaplain Rainer Bantau, a Swiss-born, German kid who grew up in East Texas and today ministers throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
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