The Corona Virus, COVID-19 pandemic has forced the globe to its knees. It has showcased the very best as well as the very worst in people. It has highlighted how quickly human beings succumb to fear and panic. It has also shown the adversion towards authority that many people have and the extend to which individuals greed and selfishness will lead them to. It has and will continue to reveal what really IS important to individuals, couples, families, organisations and corporations.
For Christians, this current situation is another opportunity to shine as lights in a dark place, to show the world a better way to live and to point them towards their sure Hope- God. I feel I need to add at this point that Christians also need to be adhering to what our governing authorities are saying and directing us to do. I have heard and read a few disturbing and disappointing stories of pastors who are defying the current social distancing measures that have been put in place and continuing their church services and other gatherings as if nothing is happening. This is a blatant disregard for the Word of God and scriptures such as those found in Romans 13. ("Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no governing authority except from God and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists authority resists the ordinances of God and those who resist will bring judgement on themselves"..vv1-3. But read the whole chapter to gain the full context of the passage) God will not be glorified when Christians ignore or defy the Word of God.
I'd like to ask Christians:
What are you spreading - fear or hope?
Christians should be hope- spreaders during this time ,not fear -spreaders.HOPE is exactly what our world needs. And I don't mean a fleeting hope in others; their generosity and friendship, food hampers and messages. Nor a vain hope in the government's economical stimulus packages. None of these measures or anything else for that matter, can satisfy for long or provide people with true and lasting hope.
Christians need to be displaying a quiet confidence,a peaceful and calm demeanor, reminding and highlighting the sovereignty, love and wisdom of God and pointing others to Jesus, their source of great and lasting hope.
Why are you fearing?
I was reading Mark 6 over the weekend and came to the story of when Jesus asked His disciples to get in a boat directly after the feeding of the 5000. The passage tells us that Jesus then send the multitudes away and He departed to the mountain to pray.
By evening the wind arose and the disciples were struggling in the boat while a storm raged. We need to remember a number of encouraging points about this story.
1. Jesus put them into that boat knowing full well a storm was coming.
The Lord has not been taken by surprise by COVID-19 nor anything associated with it. He knew this 'storm' was coming and also knows how long it will last and what the effects will be.This knowledge alone should give Christians great comfort and reason to trust.
"Great is our Lord and abundant in strength; His understanding is infinite." (Psalm 147:5)
2. When He saw the struggle they were in, He came to them.
Make no mistake about it. He will never leave you alone-ever. He is always with you and He will always come to you in your time of need.
"I will never leave you or forsake you." (Hebews 13:5)
3. He talked with them saying:
a) "Be of good cheer"
b) "It is I"
c) "Do not be afraid"
Remember Jesus' words...
He is telling you as He told His disciples to be cheerful despite what's raging around you. Be joyful despite the circumstances. Being joyful is different from being happy. Happiness depends entirely on what's happening around you. I'm certainly not suggesting you act 'as happy as Larry' at the moment. That would show no sensitivity or empathy on your part. Joyfulness is a fruit of the Holy Spirit and is available to every Christian to exercise. Joy is a spiritual gift. Joyfulness says 'It is going to be okay even when things are not okay at the moment.' Joyfulfulness involves displaying trust- a trust in the Lord.
Remember Jesus' words....
When Jesus told His disciples "It is I" He was reassuring them and reminding them who He was. He had only hours before fed 5000 men plus women and children with 5 loaves and 2 small fish! The Bible says "they had not understood about the loaves because their heart was hardened."(v52) They had witnessed many other miracles by Jesus. They had seen lives changed at His touch and His presence. They had personally benefited from Jesus' ministry in their own lives. We can say the same. We need to remind ourselves WHO Jesus is. We need to write down, recite and memorise as many attributes about His character that we can. With such reminders, we will be reassured about Jesus- the one who can and will calm the storm.
Remember Jesus' words..
Jesus' words are clear- DO NOT BE AFRAID. I think He shouted them during this situation as He was walking out on the water of a storm with fierce winds at the time. God does not give us fear. Fear is inherited as we grow. Fears grow as we allow them to. We feed our own fears through poor company, bad habits, wrong thinking, talking about them and listening to the lies of the enemy of our souls rather than the words of the Lover of our souls.
"God has not given us a spirit of fear, but love, power and a sound mind." (2 Tim. 1:7)
I hope this simple message has been helpful to you at this time. Spread hope not fear.