We are all aware of the COVID-19 virus issues facing the globe and in particular, our own country of Canada. As I write this note, I am in self-isolation in my home for the next 14 days as I have just returned from out of country while doing some Disciple-Making training in the US. We receive news of the need for self-isolation while we were abroad. I am now settling into my new normal for this period of time in our current situation.
It is important that we all take the necessary precautions that Health Canada and the Provincial Health Ministers are encouraging, recommending and requiring of us to help slow the spread of the virus in our communities. This helps the elderly and most vulnerable among us, which is always on the heart of God.
Having said that, it is also important that we hear another voice speak into our hearts from Isaiah 41:8-10:
But you, O Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, you descendants of Abraham my friend, I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, ‘You are my servant’; I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
In this text, we see that God has invited us into a relationship with Him, equipped us as servants and empowers us with His very presence to face whatever fears we may be facing. He also sends us out to represent Him to a broken and hurting world. As one article I read yesterday puts it: “Christianity has been handling epidemics for 2000 years. Practical theology says care, sacrifice, and community are as vital as ever.” May God be glorified through the attitudes, behaviours and character responses of His kids in the season that is now upon us.
Jim Denison wrote in his blog a few days ago:
One of the ways God wants to redeem this crisis is by showing us how much we need Him. But the Lord also wants to redeem it by showing us how much we need each other. It is difficult to make sacrifices that don’t seem necessary at the time. If (Canada) were Italy and huge numbers of us were sick and dying we would obviously see the need for social distancing and other sacrifices for the common good. However, to keep their experience from becoming ours, we must act as if it were. The key is to reframe personal sacrifice as service to others.https://www.denisonforum.org/columns/daily-article/rita-wilsons-quarantunes-and-a-prayer-for-a-pandemic-reframing-sacrifice-as-service/
I just got off a zoom call with the BC EMCC pastors as we focused on this text of Isaiah 41:8-10, where we talked about the voices in our culture saying, 1. “Be afraid: lots of us could die!” (and for those who are older and immune-compromised, this is a particularly pointed and possible reality for them); 2. “Don’t be afraid – we will all get through this” (this second voice does work to a point, as we all work to “flatten the curve”). But there is the third voice from God saying, “So do not fear, for I am with you!” It was a great time of sharing and hearing from the Holy Spirit as we face the challenging time at hand. It was also good to share the peace of Christ with each other in our journey this day.
And so, may the peace that passes all understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. May His peace be the sentinel over your heart that keeps you from worry and fear, and the sentinel over your mind that keeps you from doubt and self-reliance.
Blessings to you all during these challenging days, and may you be salt, light and leaven to your hurting and fearful communities – for we have the spiritual confidence from our Heavenly Father to live and lead in a pandemic plagued world. (Is. 41:10)