Psalm 91:10 No harm will
come to you.
No sickness will come near your house.”
There are many comforting scriptures as we face pandemics, but sometimes these are taken out of context. This entire Psalm is wonderful comfort and highly recommended reading at this time.
God brings us peace in the trouble, and the ability to act wisely.
It’s great to claim God’s promises to us, but it’s important to understand the conditions thereof.
1 Whoever lives under
the shelter of the Most High
will remain in the shadow of the Almighty.”
In this case, it’s addressed to those who remain under Jesus’ authority. i.e. those who love and serve him and do not deviate from his righteousness – those who turn to him when they’ve succumbed to human weakness, rather than hiding behind self-righteousness, or ignoring the need for trying to live a godly life.
Be careful, because the devil misquotes such wonderful promises like verses 11-12.
Luke 4:9 Then the devil took him into Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest part of the temple. He said to Jesus, “If you are the Son of God, jump from here! 10Scripture says, ‘He will put his angels in charge of you to watch over you carefully. 11They will carry you in their hands so that you never hit your foot against a rock.’ ”
12Jesus answered him, “It has been said, ‘Never tempt the Lord your God.’”
Sometimes we abuse scripture, to ignore concerns, and we thereby put the Lord to the test. Sometimes people blatantly test God by putting themselves in harm’s way, while hiding behind a religious façade of misapplied promises of God.
We are called to submit to governing authorities, who are all appointed by God. If we do not follow their instructions, then we are not remaining under Jesus’s authority (unless they explicitly contradict God’s authority).
Romans 13:1 Every person should obey the government in power. No government would exist if it hadn’t been established by God. The governments which exist have been put in place by God. 2Therefore, whoever resists the government opposes what God has established. Those who resist will bring punishment on themselves.
So, we are to follow governmental decrees, even when they’re uncomfortable, inconvenient or interfere with our traditional practices.
For example, we are asked by our government not to greet with a handshake, a hug or a hongi, as these can spread infection. This really cramps my style at church, where I flippantly say my main ministry is hugs.
However, there might be specific exceptions, where God specifically calls us into what would otherwise be dangerous. For example, Jesus disobeyed the law to touch lepers, as he was led by the Holy Spirit to heal them. Or more commonly, dangerous situations may come over us. In these cases, we should not fret, but be comforted that since we remain under God’s authority, we are also under his protection. Even so, perhaps we get sick: God will sustain us. Perhaps we die, then we are with God. Throughout the ages, Christians have faced such situations. Although Paul had an incredible healing ministry, a time came when his companion nearly died from sickness.
Philippians 2:25 I feel that I must send Epaphroditus—my brother, coworker, and fellow soldier—back to you. You sent him as your personal representative to help me in my need. 26He has been longing to see all of you and is troubled because you heard that he was sick. 27Indeed, he was so sick that he almost died. But God had mercy not only on him but also on me and kept me from having one sorrow on top of another.
Even in this darkest hour, Paul was spared by God’s grace.
The shepherd’s psalm is also wonderful comfort and encouragement in difficult times.
1The Lord is my shepherd.
I am never in need.
2He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside peaceful waters.
3He renews my soul.
He guides me along the paths of righteousness
for the sake of his name.
4Even though I walk through the dark valley of death,
because you are with me, I fear no harm.
Your rod and your staff give me courage.
5You prepare a banquet for me while my enemies watch.
You anoint my head with oil.
My cup overflows.
6Certainly, goodness and mercy will stay close to me all the days of my life,
and I will remain in the Lord’s house for days without end.
As I follow his guidance in righteousness, even if that leads through the valley of death, I will fear no evil. Because God’s discipline gives me courage.
God is doing something amazing through the pandemic
Romans 8:28 We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God—those whom he has called according to his plan.
Again, don’t skip the conditions of God’s promises. I pray that God would open your eyes to imagine the possibilities that God is working through our troubles. Sometimes, God is sculpting away things that get in our spiritual way, or unrighteousness, sometimes he allows distress to expose flaws in our character, or to build compassion for others. Life’s not easy, but God’s carrying us through.
If it weren’t for the holocaust, Israel would not be the nation it is today.
Ezekiel 38:8b … a land that has been rebuilt after a war. Its people have been gathered from many nations and brought to the mountains of Israel, mountains that have been ruined for a long time. These people were brought there from the nations, and all of them live there safely.
In this week’s bible study, we read
Luke 8:22 One day Jesus and his disciples got into a boat. He said to them, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” So they started out. 23As they were sailing along, Jesus fell asleep. A violent storm came across the lake. The boat was taking on water, and they were in danger. 24They went to him, woke him up, and said, “Master! Master! We’re going to die!” Then he got up and ordered the wind and the waves to stop. The wind stopped, and the sea became calm. 25He asked them, “Where is your faith?” Frightened and amazed, they asked each other, “Who is this man? He gives orders to the wind and the water, and they obey him!”
It was so cool how God was guiding the discussion, and God was teaching us through each, through his Holy Spirit. We saw how this was talking about the Covid-19 storm. I asked rhetorically if Jesus had a nap on purpose to expose the weakness in the disciples’ character. This is speculative, but often it feels like God doesn’t care about our storm and leaves us to face it alone. But he’s right there, and he’s not concerned. He knows we’ll get through it. And when it gets overwhelming, he steps in and shows us how we should have handled it – if we weren’t so busy panicking about our impending doom.
Revival is coming
Something amazing is about to unfold, which will only be possible because of this pandemic. As we see the horror unfold, we should rejoice, because of what God is about to do. Through the uncertainty this generates, people’s life-foundations are being shaken, so that they will not rely on the natural, but will receive the supernatural. Revival is coming this year to the world. Watch for the amazing things God is doing – through this time of trouble.
This is an opportunity to do things differently – to develop online communication and resources. This is an opportunity to reach the world in different ways. We might not be able to hug everyone, but we can re-learn other ways of touching people’s hearts.
I pray that God will comfort you through this difficult time and give you wisdom to face the storm. I pray that God would show you the amazing hope that lies beyond our understanding.