It’s hard to believe that just a few weeks ago, most of us were going through our daily lives, as we have for these many years, without a thought or care of the freedoms and privileges which are so taken for granted – going to a mall, catching a movie, eating out, attending a party or going to our weekly congregational service.
Life as we have known it, has come to a screeching halt, without warning and without regard for our work obligations, family responsibilities or impending travel arrangements. It all ended abruptly, sending the message loud and clear that our plans and decisions were no longer in our control. It was an unexpected gut punch in many ways.
Each day seemed to bring more ominous news along with new restrictions and rules. It was only in our wildest imaginings that we would, on occasion, consider a time, well into the future, when there might be food shortages, restriction of movement, fear of death and the end of our happy-go-lucky lives.
Well, the distant future has now caught up with us – March 2020 has brought the onslaught of a deadly plague in our time – Coronavirus – the new pandemic. Such a global grave threat has not been seen in our lifetime, and its effects upon each and every human being on Planet Earth has to have caught the attention of most of us.
It certainly caught mine. It would have been one thing had it just affected a particular people group or one country, but the fact that this plague has spread to every nation and every tongue gives us pause to try to understand where God is in all of this and whether or not He is trying to speak forth something that is vitally important.
Whenever I feel that way, I immediately search the scriptures for answers, and this time was no different. My search led me to the apocalyptic book of Revelation since all that we have been experiencing seemed so unprecedented and so much of end time prophetic events.
By the time I came to chapter 3, I couldn’t help but wipe the tears from my eyes. There, I saw an eerie portrait of myself – someone who had once been so zealous and so exuberant about my faith, freely sharing the message of salvation wherever I went, being an integral part of my congregation with untiring efforts to help in whatever way I could, praying and reading the word more often than watching television or reading texts and emails. I saw the watered down person I’d become, floating adrift by the many cares of life and trendy fads which have taken over our daily routines.
I couldn’t help but notice the words, “Listen, Listen,” repeated over and over again in each of these three chapters – almost to say as if we haven’t been listening at all. It had been years since I last read Revelation, and so the tone and mood immediately sobered me up to a place where I could get a clearer perspective on things.
Did God send this pandemic to the world or was it simply the results of a man-made error? While none of us know the answer to that question, does it really matter? I don’t think so.
What does matter is the fact that each one of us has had the rude awakening that we are not the masters of our lives as we may have thought. We do not make our destiny as we have been told. We do not plan what will be! Someone who is greater has seen to it that startling events have necessitated a deep look into the direction we’ve been taking and whether or not it will be “business as usual” after this pandemic is under control, freeing up the general public to return to their daily routine.
While we may very well have a few years ahead of us before we get to the end of this age, it’s probably safe to say that many of us, as believers, have lost a great deal of our fervor for the faith. It could be due to having been mortally hurt by another believer, a congregation or its leadership, a spouse who has dragged us away, an exaggerated need for success and power or a desire to fit in and conform to a world which holds God with little importance. Whatever it is, it has fulfilled the words of Matthew 24:10 – “At that time, many will fall away.” (NASB) “For many others, the overwhelming spread of evil will do them in.” (MSG)
How honest are we willing to be about our own spiritual condition? Have we come to the precipice of falling away? Maybe we go to our weekly congregational meetings, but are we deliriously excited about our faith, about preferring one another or about being the best example of a believer that we can possibly be? Probably not!
Each year, during Yom Kippur, we are to use this day as a time of reflection, a moment to take personal stock of where we’ve been and where we’re going. Few of us likely do that, because the 24-hour period is fast gone, and we are back to the daily routine of life, but this Coronavirus pandemic is not limited to a 24-hour period. It is long, deep and fully invasive into every part of our life. It threatens to last for weeks, possibly months and who knows beyond.
First and foremost, it is a time to understand that new and unprecedented events are taking place. That, in and of itself, is worth a second glance. Nothing like this has ever happened before. We are literally in uncharted waters.
Secondly, we no longer control our lives. Freedoms have been lost and may continue to be lost. It’s worth seeing this as providential, because the one thing we do know is that nothing takes God by surprise. He uses everything for His purposes – even the evil, and a pandemic certainly falls into that category.
So is God trying to say something to us through this cataclysmic event which has grabbed hold of the entire world? Maybe He’s trying to simply remind us that He is here – waiting for us, hoping we’ll change our daily routine in favor of a new one that includes Him more, that acknowledges Him more and that loves Him more. Wouldn’t it be great if that new routine would be responsible for our becoming a closer version to the conformed image of the One who loved us enough to die in our place? And what if that new image could impact the world in a greater way? Would it not be God’s way of mercifully reminding us why we’re here and that our lives are not really ours any longer – since they were bought with a price! If that’s His message, He truly is using the evil for His good purposes! Proverbs 16:4
We have lots of time now to think about so many of these things. If we don’t do it now, when?
Update March 16, 2020
Just this evening, we’ve heard on the news that what began as a health crisis has now turned into an economic crisis with 150,000 Israelis suddenly finding themselves unemployed for a minimum of one month if not longer. Many of these people live from paycheck to paycheck, so the situation is dire for them. We must, with all earnest, seek the Lord and stand in the gap for these people, for our nation and for humanity. We literally need to plead for God’s mercies and beg Him to save us from this deadly threat in our time.