Since my last post, the world has gone crazy. Hence this early blog post.
Mid-November 2019 saw the diagnosis of the first case of Corona Virus, or more accurately, COVID-19. That is less than four months ago! Since that moment, we have seen global news changing at such a rapid pace it’s been virtually impossible to keep track.
Presidents and heads of state have been making decisions with shattering implications in some cases, and often changing their minds a day later because of new developments. Just today, I heard of weddings that have had to be canceled with only a few days’ warning, and an expensive honeymoon suddenly called off. A few hours ago, I spoke to a lady in the pharmacy who is out on holiday from England. She is due to fly home later this week, but she had come into the pharmacy to see if he could give her more of her prescription medication because, thanks to COVID-19, she doesn’t now know how long she’s here for.
COVID-19 has schools closing, and parents are thrown into a quandary. Vacations are being called off and bookings canceled. Visas are revoked, and people are stranded with no ways of returning home. People have family members in jail and they are not allowed to visit them. Wedding venues have to close their doors. What, I wonder, happens to funeral parlors? We can’t forbid people to die!
All round, the world is in a mess.
COVID-19 took the world by storm. But you know what? It didn’t take God by surprise. The world is in panic. But God isn’t. And nor need we be.COVID-19 took the world by storm. But it didn't take God by surprise. The world is in panic. But God isn't. Click To Tweet
Way back in history, Paul wrote these words to the Philippian church.
Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything. With thankful hearts offer up your prayers and requests to God. Then, because you belong to Christ Jesus, God will bless you with peace that no one can completely understand. And this peace will control the way you think and feel (Philippians 4:7 CEV).
He goes on, in verse eight, to give us a list of suggestions to concentrate on. And these could have been written for us today.
Finally, my friends, keep your minds on whatever is true, pure, right, holy, friendly, and proper. Don’t ever stop thinking about what is truly worthwhile and worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8 CEV).
True? Pure? Right? In view of the COVID-19 crisis, what can we keep our minds on that is true? Or pure? Or right?
For starters, let’s avoid passing on all the horrific facts about Corona that we see on Social Media, and stick to the positive news. Yes, people need to be informed. But they don’t need to be scared witless! Especially by facts that are often proved to be false or exaggerated. This is a great time to bring encouragement and to point people to the Christ who loves us with such overwhelming love.
How about holy? How holy is it if churches close their doors to their normal worship services?
Remember—the church is not a building. It isn’t even a gathering of believers. The church is the family of God spread across the world. It is made up of all those we can watch on our TV screens, worshiping the Lord and sharing His Word. It is made up of our neighbors who love Christ.
Aren’t we blessed today, with our Whatsapp, our Facebook, our Internet access, our telephones, all our means of communication? Let’s quit complaining about what we can’t do, and give thanks today for all those things we can do that were not available to folk facing other pandemics such as the Black Death (1346-1353), the Spanish Flu (1918-1920), the many Influenza and Cholera pandemics back in history. Let us rather concentrate on all the blessings of communication we have today. And let us use them wisely, to build one another up.
So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you’re already doing this; just keep on doing it (1 Thessalonians 5:11 MSG).
Now is a great time for us to BE the Church. Let’s reach out to those around us and let them SEE Christ alive in us.Now is a great time for us to BE the Church. Let's reach out to those around us and let them SEE Christ alive in us. Click To Tweet
So we can’t go to Sunday Worship?
How about inviting a friend over who doesn’t go to church usually, to watch a Christian video or a live worship service? When people are scared, they often realize their need of a Savior. Now is the time for us to show them the One who died for us—and who died for them.
[Since this was written, many countries are in lockdown and this is no long possible. Try to record sermons if there’s a way you can get the disc to your friend. Or phone them and share the highlights of the message with them. Don’t be preachy! Say something like, “I have to share with you something that really struck home to me today!”]
Let’s be friendly, says Paul.
Who do we need to befriend? The lonely ones. Those with no family nearby. Folk without transport or unable to get to the shops. The lady from England who is running out of medicine. People who have no access to the Internet or up-to-date news.
And how about being proper? What does that even mean?
Other versions use the term good report, or worthy of respect. What is our proper behavior when it comes to speaking to others? How are we teaching our children to react in a time of crisis? In ten years’ time, when they face a crisis of their own, will they look back and be able to follow the example of their parents during the Corona Virus Pandemic? Will they be strong Christians then because of the way we behave today?
Teach children how they should live, and they will remember it all their life (Proverbs 22:6 GNB).
I love the way the Message expresses this verse we’ve been looking at:
Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse (Philippians 4:8 MSG).
The night before His death, Jesus told His disciples,
“Before the night’s over, you’re going to fall to pieces because of what happens to me. . . But after I am raised up, I, your Shepherd, will go ahead of you, leading the way to Galilee” (Matthew 26:32 MSG).
Jesus knew they would face a situation they couldn’t even imagine, and they would fall to pieces at times. But He would be ahead of them, leading them on. Yes, we face a crisis such as we couldn’t have imagined six months ago. There will be times when we are tempted to fall apart.
But God . . . He goes before us. This time has not taken Him by surprise.
If we follow these suggestions of Paul, we can be assured of the peace that can only come from God.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7 NIV)
I don’t know about you. But that’s how I want to face this Covid-19 virus. In peace. A peace that is way above my understanding. A peace that will keep me safe because of my faith in Jesus.
Even if I go through the deepest darkness, I will not be afraid, LORD, for you are with me. (Psalms 23:4a GNB).
God bless you and keep you safe in His mighty hand.
And if you don’t know what to do next, maybe Elizabeth Elliot has some good advice for you!