Many words have been written and spoken about this present crisis concerning the pandemic COVID 19. Let me share some personal reflections on this matter, some serious and some not so serious.
COVID 19 IS SERIOUS, AND WE SHOULD TREAT IT AS SUCH
At the start, the temptation was to treat the situation lightly, saying it was nothing compared to the yearly influenza outbreaks. But it was eventually realized that this was not so, and people become fearful for various reasons because:
- It was very contagious.
- There was not a known medicine to cure it, and no vaccine had been developed.
LIFE CAN CHANGE SO QUICKLY
Who would have thought as we celebrated the New Year that in less than three months, life would radically change? That millions of people would be out of work, losing their incomes for reasons not their own? We have no guarantees in life, and we need to harken to the words of Jesus to live one day at a time. See Matthew 6:33-34. Life can change so quickly.
WE ARE NOT TO LIVE IN FEAR
Change unsettles people, especially when it is wrapped in risk or danger. But God tells us in His word, ‘Do not fear.’ The Bible is full of promises, such as:
- Psalm 56:3 – Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You.
- John 14:27 – Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
- 2 Timothy 1:7 – For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
Let us live in faith, not in fear.
One of the scenes that caught people’s attention was the fight to get toilet paper. Years ago, many people didn’t have toilet paper, and they used all sorts of things, including grass, leaves, corn cobs, etc. as toilet paper. Then later, Americans used the pages of the readily available Sears Catalogue. It was in 1857 that people first started using toilet paper, at that time called ‘medicated paper,’ that was made of hemp, with added aloe.
The creation of toilet paper on a roll occurred in 1890, and then in 1928, a much softer version was sold, that eventually was called ‘Charmin.’ So having rolls of toilet paper is a relatively new invention.
I grew up in the days of the great depression in the 1930s and through the days of the Second World War in the 1940s. In Australia at the time, our family did not have or could not afford toilet paper, so we used cut up newspapers. We survived.
Most people are not prepared for sudden change and unexpected events like this present crisis. My wife, Dorothy, and I have been fortunate to have a friend who helps us by doing our food shopping each week. She brought extra food to ensure that we had enough during this time. Also, our daughter Joy, along with our grandson Mitchel, worked out a plan of action for the entire family on how to handle the COVID 19 crisis, including what to do regarding work, shopping, banking etc., and they have followed through with this plan.
Many people will learn from this experience and will be better prepared in the future. Let us be prepared.
My wife, Dorothy, and I have been confined to our home by order of our two daughters and multiple grandchildren. We are amongst the most vulnerable segments of the population, as both of us are in our 80s and have underlying medical conditions. We are thankful to have each other to keep us company, along with the daily email and calls from family, and the occasional conversation with members of the family that occur from across the driveway when they drop off or pick up what is needed from our home. I can’t help but think of Jewish people, such as Anne Frank in World War II, who were forced to live in an attic or secret room for months or even years.
PHONE CALLS, EMAILS, AND FACEBOOK
Communication has changed as we have been told to practice ‘social distancing,’ staying 6 feet apart. We have been blessed to receive phone calls from people inquiring how we have been coping and offering to help. We have a daughter that lives in Germany, and in addition to phone calls, we exchange emails every day to share what is happening in our lives during this time. Our church has set up encouragement groups, where three to four people connect by phone or online a few times a week to encourage, support and pray for each other. We should all be looking for ways we can reach out and help others – even a phone call can make a difference to someone isolated and alone.
PRAYER AND REVIVAL
There are many who are praying that these current events will spark revival in the hearts of people, as so many people have suddenly realized that they are not really in control of their lives. Christians are praying that in this time of crisis, that people will turn to the Lord, who alone is in control.
Greg Laurie of Harvest Church in California in an article entitled
‘Will COVID-19 lead to the Next Great Awakening in America?’ writes,”In the past four weeks, we have seen 21000 people indicate their desire to put their faith in Jesus Christ” Other Churches report similar responses. Let us pray that revival will take place in the midst of the crisis.
We also need to be praying for our President and the people who he has gathered around him to fight this pandemic. One can only imagine the pressure that has come upon the leaders, not just in Washington, but also across our country, the state governors, mayors, etc., as they work together with people in health care to combat the pandemic. The list is too long to cover all those that have been caught up in this. And let us not forget to pray for our nation and also the nations of the world as they battle this pandemic.
LIFE IS FRAGILE
As the COVID 19 pandemic continues and people die, it reminds us of James 4, which states, ‘For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.’
Let me finish with a story set in a time of crisis that illustrates this point about life and death that we all will face sooner or later. The story includes a hero of mine, Peter Marshall, a one-time pastor in Washington DC and chaplain of the U.S. Senate, as told by his with Catherine Marshall.
On Sunday, December 7, 1941, Peter was to preach to the regiment of midshipmen in the Navel Academy at Annapolis.
All the preceding week, he had been haunted by a strange feeling that he should change his announced topic and preach a particular sermon. It was a feeling he could not shake off. On Sunday morning, he confided it to Chaplain Thomas.
“If your feeling about it is that strong, follow it by all means,” was the chaplain’s advice.
So Peter preached on the text, seemingly a strange text for the young midshipmen:
“For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (James 4:14).
In the chapel before him was the December graduating class, young men who in a few days would receive their commissions and go on active duty.
As we were driving back to Washington that afternoon suddenly the programme on the car radio was interrupted. The announcer’s voice was grave. His apparently routine words throbbed with emotion: “Ladies and Gentlemen. Stand by for an important announcement. This morning the United States Naval Base at Pearl Harbor was bombed in a surprise Japanese attack. . .”
Instantly, we knew that we were living through one of the history’s dramatic moments, that fateful December 7th, “the day that would long live in infamy.”
Within the month many of the boys to whom Peter had just preached would go down to heroes’ graves in strange waters. Soon all of them would be exposed to the risks and dangers of war, and Peter, under God’s direction, had preached to them – young, vital, alive as they were that morning – about death and immortality (Marshall).
It is often said, “Don’t waste a crisis.” And as far as the present crisis is concerned, it can be a learning experience. We need to ask the Lord, “What can be learned from all this? What is He saying or doing through it all?” We may be surprised by His answer to that question!
Marshall, C. (1954). A Man called Peter. Great Britain: Peter Davies.
Dear Pastor Alan,
The sweet phrasing of you and Dorothy being confined by order of your daughters and grandchildren made me smile. Yes, we are in uncertain times but this is certain – the love and affection we all have for you both knows no distancing!
It was a joy to see Timothy last Sunday and I couldn’t resist giving him a big hug! Boy, was he hungry for conversation. Of course, I was too!
I had forgotten about Peter Marshal’s Dec. 7 sermon. Thank you for including it!
But what has gotten me thinking is how you ended this letter with, “Never waste a crisis!” I have been using the variations of this Saul Alinsky quote during these past few weeks because from a political viewpoint, the Corona virus is a perfect opportunity for those who seek a “New World Order” to begin their goals of crashing the US and world economy to promote their agenda of a “One World Solution.”
But until this newsletter, I had never applied it to the church’s mission before. What if, like some are suggesting, this time will be used by God for the start of the new wave of revival? And adding to that, as Rick Joyner has also considered, that it can also be a wonderful time for God’s people to rest in Him?
Can this time of confinement be used by God for a revival? And is there evidence to indicate anything is stirring now? Fact: Social media and the streaming of church services and sermons on the Internet is on the rise! As a simple example, I asked Mitchell about the volume of views our own services are receiving and learned that the of screen views of COTH services is now 2-3X the number of actual attendees on any normal Sunday. And this doesn’t show how many are watching on each screen! Our Easter service has already had over 180 views!
All glory to God! We might be temporarily imprisoned but His Word is not!
Blessings to you both!