HOW QUICKLY LIFE CAN CHANGE
In a matter of days, life has radically been altered for so many people. The virus has spread, people have died, schools have closed, conferences and sporting events have been canceled, nations, like Italy, have been put on lockdown, the stock market has crashed, travel restrictions have been put in place, churches have canceled services, and countries have closed their borders.
HOW FEAR AND ANXIETY CAN AFFECT PEOPLE
Not just the fear about the coronavirus itself, but the uncertainty regarding the future. Where is this all going? The plans that now have to change. The loss of employment and income. Concern for the most vulnerable in society, in this case, the elderly and people with pre-existing conditions, including children.
HOW ARE WE GOING TO RESPOND TO SUCH A CRISIS?
Let us start with the Word of God from 2 Timothy 2:7, which states, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
Four points we can pull from this verse:
- Fear is not from God. God doesn’t want us to be anxious. See also Philippians 3:6. We can trust God, who still is in control.
- God has provided power – The power of the Word and the Spirit. We are to respond in faith not fear.
- God has given us love. 1 John 5:18 declares, “There is no fear in love. But perfect fear cast out fear.”
- God has given us a sound mind. In other words, we need to think clearly and wisely how we are going to respond and act. Fortunately, there are many examples in Scripture as to how to do just that when in the midst of a crisis.
Take one example from the book of Nehemiah that can give us some guidelines on how to respond to this pandemic.
Nehemiah had the vision to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem that had been broken down during the Babylonian conquest of the city. As such, he was opposed by his enemies. How Nehemiah handled this situation can give us some guidelines for today.
NEHEMIAH RECOGNIZED THE ENEMY AND THE CHALLENGE
Nehemiah did not put his head in the sand and pretend that there was no problem. Rather, he recognized there were enemies, like Sanballat and Tobia, who were coming against him and creating confusion (Nehemiah 4:8). We need to recognize that the situation the world is facing is real. It is serious. People have and will die. As a result, the government has rightly taken a series of steps to try to keep the suffering and effects of the virus to a minimum.
Let us be honest and recognize the challenge that faces nations all over the world and also as individuals and families.
Right at the beginning, when the threat rose, Nehemiah prayed. “Nevertheless, we made our prayer to our God. . .” (Nehemiah 4:9). Prayer is not the last line of defense. It should be the first. Like Nehemiah, prayer should be the first thing we do. Prayer is a mighty force for good in times of trouble. We should pray more and talk less.
Let us be a people of prayer and come before God and seek His help in all this.
NEHEMIAH STOOD FIRMLY ON GOD’S WORD
Right from the beginning, Nehemiah stood in faith on the Word of God. It was the foundation on which He laid out the vision for the work of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. If you go back to Nehemiah chapter 1, you will read how he referred back to the promises of God for His people.
Let us stand in faith on the promises of God’s Word.
NEHEMIAH WAS PREPARED AND DID PRACTICAL THINGS TO ENSURE VICTORY
Nehemiah came up with a plan on how to handle the challenges before him. “With one hand they worked at construction (of the wall), and with the other, they held a weapon” (Nehemiah 4:17). In other words, they put into place a practical plan. So should we. There are practical plans that we can implement, beginning with such things as washing our hands.
Let us prepare ourselves by following through with the practical guidelines that are recommended to us.
NEHEMIAH STOOD AGAINST FEAR
Nehemiah declared to the people, “Do not be afraid of them” (Nehemiah 4:14). If there is one thing that is clear from Scripture, it is that God does not want His people to live in fear. There are 365 promises in the Bible regarding fear. We are to live in faith, trusting God to take care of the needs in our lives.
Let us stand in faith and not live in fear.
NEHEMIAH WAS A PART OF A TEAM
Nehemiah was a part larger of a body of believers, organized around the wall, with various families and groups responsible for certain areas. So, it must be with us. We are not meant to be standing alone. We need the love, support, and help of others – our family, our friends, and our fellow believers in the church. One church that I have heard of told their people to make five phone calls to others every day.
Let us make sure that we are part of a team.
NEHEMIAH KNEW GOD WAS IN CONTROL
Nehemiah told the people who would be working to rebuild the walls, “The hand of God . . . has been good upon me” (Nehemiah 2:18). And when they completed the task of rebuilding the wall, it was “perceived that this work was done by our God” (Nehemiah 6:16). They gave glory to God, for He had done it; He was in control.
Let us remember that God is in control.
There you have seven keys from the book of Nehemiah on how we should be responding and acting in times of challenges and crisis
SCRIPTURE TO STAND ON
Lee Grady, the former editor of Charisma Magazine, put out a list of ten Scriptures that can be of help to people and their families during the coronavirus outbreak. For example, “I sought the Lord, and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears”(Psalm 34:4).
Recently, Shawn Bolz prophesied that the coronavirus is about to end. “The Lord showed me the end of the coronavirus. The tide is turning now! He is answering the prayers and cries of the nations and is putting an end in sight. The exaggerated fear-based tactics of the enemy and several media outlets for political reasons are coming to an end. The enemy has been trying to distract and steal from several equally important purposes and issues by dominating airwaves with conspiracy and fear. Even now, several vaccines are coming out, as well as a natural dying out of the virus itself. The Lord is saying, ‘I am removing the threat of this.’ Within a short amount of time, the extreme threat will feel as though it is in the distant past” (Charismanews.com).
A FINAL WORD
There is a reoccurring phrase in Scripture that comes to mind in times like these. It is simply the words, ‘It came to pass.” In other words, the present challenge will pass, and life will return to normal, albeit it will be a new normal.
Remember, God is still on the throne and in control of it all, so let us keep our eyes on Him and our trust in His promises.
https://www.charismanews.com/opinion/80214-how-to-pray-when-a-global-virus-is-spreading (List of Ten Scriptures)
https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html (Map as of March 18, 2020)