Have you ever noticed that when you pray for something that oftentimes the answer comes in a way you’d never have asked for, thought of, or expected? I’ve been praying— along side other friends of mine—for revival in the Church, our nation, and the world for the past 25 years. I know many others across the globe have been praying for the same thing, some for longer and some for shorter periods of time. It has crossed my mind that the Coronavirus could be the Lord’s answer to bring about the much-prayed for revival in our world. Revival means to breathe new life into something; to awaken or restore life to something that needs resuscitation, and the Church is certainly in need of revival! And remember…the Church is the Body of Christ, and that includes everyone who claims to be a follower of Jesus…which means you and me!It’s not just ‘those people’ out in the world or the ones who attend different churches who are in need of revival, it’s me and it’s you!
It is widely believed across the globe, and particularly in the West where Christianity previously had been so influential, that we live in a post-Christian world, that the Christian religion is no longer relevant to the needs of our ‘modern world’. Many have adopted either the view that God doesn’t exist, or if they believe that God does exist, they believe in a god based upon their conjecture irrespective of Who God has revealed Himself to be through nature, through history, and through His inspired Word that we call the Bible. Rather than viewing God as the center of the universe Who created mankind for His pleasure and for His glory (Isaiah 43:7), we live in an era when mankind (inclusive of course of women too!) thinks the world is man rather than God-centered, and if god does exist, ‘His/Her/Its’ role is to serve mankind’s needs and wants. In other words, we live in a time when we are worshipping and serving the ‘creation rather than the Creator’, and we are reaping the consequences of turning our backs upon the One True God (Romans 1:18-32) I am not saying that God has brought the Coronavirus upon the world—although we most definitely deserve judgment for our rebellion against Him, a Holy God — or whether He has just allowed it; only He in His infinite wisdom knows its origin. But I do know for sure that the Lord is Sovereign over all things, and He is able to use everything and anything for the good of His people and for the glory of His Name! (Romans 8:28; Ephesians 1:11) I believe it’s His desire to use this global crisis as an instrument of His grace to awaken His Church to become the pure, unblemished Bride He has created and called her to be; to ‘shake everything that can be shaken’ so that people will let go of their pride, let go of the ‘false gods’ of this world, and to arrest the hearts and minds of people throughout the world so they might humble themselves and turn to and stand upon Jesus, the Rock of Salvation, the only firm foundation in life. (Hebrews 12:27) Have you considered that God, who used the plagues in Egypt to reveal and demonstrate His power so people in the world at that time would look to Him, come to know Him as the only Living God, and accept Him as their Lord and Savior, may be using this modern-day ‘plague’ to awaken people to that same reality— so they too will look to Jesus, the Only Source of salvation, and be saved?! (Exodus 14: 4;10; 15)
What are some ways the Lord may be using this to draw others to Himself?
This unprecedented worldwide crisis and the subsequent quarantining and cessation of normal activities can be used to cause people to slow down, to hit the ‘pause button’ in our fast-paced world in which we all too often get caught up in the ‘tyranny of the urgent’, and take the time to focus our attention upon what is truly important. God has removed so many things from our world that have distracted us from having our focus upon Him and upon our families. What an opportune time to assess our life and our priorities, and to make the needed adjustments so that what we do with our life aligns with what we say we believe. For example, it’s an ideal time to consider: What is the true purpose of my life? Am I living for the purpose for which I was created? (Isaiah 43:7) If I were to die from the virus, what impact would my life have had? Have I invested my time and other resources in what is truly significant and of eternal value? Am I full of fear or faith in the face of this crisis? What is the root of my fear? What do I need to do to overcome my fears? Have I been deceived into thinking that I have control over my life instead of submitting my life to God, the One Who is Sovereign over every aspect of life? What is God saying to me about what is in my life that needs to be revived?
Several times the Lord has brought to my mind a verse in Martin Luther’s hymn, ‘A Mighty Fortress Is Our God’ that states “one little word shall fell him”—referring to the Name of Jesus, Who alone is able to destroy Satan’s power, including gaining victory over death. I find it interesting that mankind, by nature full of pride and arrogance— which is the source of our rebellion against a holy God— is being ‘felled’ by something that is so infinitesimally small as a microscopic virus! How humbling for mankind to realize that it’s not even a ‘giant’ that has brought our world to a screeching halt, but something that’s so tiny it’s invisible to our naked eye! ‘Pride comes before destruction’, and I believe God loves us so much that in His grace and mercy He is giving us the opportunity ‘to humble ourselves under His mighty Hand’ so that we will look to Him Who alone is the Source and Sustainer of all Life, and then He will in turn lift us up! (Proverbs 16:18; 1 Peter 5:6)
What should be our response during this time?
1) First and foremost, ‘Fear not! Put your trust in God! Recognize that our Sovereign, Almighty, Always Loving God is in control! Ask Him to open your eyes so you can see Him ‘high and lifted up’ over this global crisis! (Isaiah 57:15-17) Ask Him to speak to you about how you can ‘redeem the time’ (Ephesians 5:16). Remember, it was while Paul was in prison that he wrote part of the New Testament, and that while in prison, John Bunyan wrote Pilgrim’s Progress. What do you think He is asking you to do to further His kingdom purposes during this time? You can be assured He isn’t asking you to purchase an abundance of products to hoard for your own personal use, but He likely may be asking you to give sacrificially of your time and financial resources to help others in need.
2) Worship God! Worship in both the Hebrew and Greek mean to ‘kiss toward’, to show respect for, or to prostrate and bow before someone. We worship God by showing Him reference and awe for Who He is, and we come to know Who He is by reading the Bible, His infallible Word to us. We also worship Him and demonstrate our respect for His authority and Sovereignty in our lives by confessing our sins to Him; sins such as fear, pride, selfishness, rebellion, self-protection, and idolatry. God draws near to those who are humble and broken hearted and those who are humble demonstrate their humility by confessing their sins. When you humble yourself and confess your sin, God promises to forgive you and cleanse you from your sin. (Psalm 34:18; 1 John 1:9) We worship God and show that we love Him by obeying His commands, and all of His commands can be summed up by loving Him with all of our heart, our soul, our mind and our strength, and by loving others as He has loved us. (John 14:15; Luke 10:27)
3) Praise Him! God inhabits the praises of His people, and when we praise Him, we come into His Presence— where there is fullness of joy! (Psalm 22:3; Psalm 16:11) Praise Him for Who He is—an Almighty, Merciful, Loving God Who is able to provide all that you truly need! Praise Him for all of the blessings He is giving to you now, and that He has bestowed upon you in the past. I encourage you to thank Him for things that you may have taken so for granted before the crisis and the quarantine— things like your health, medical professionals and our healthcare system, going out to restaurants, gathering with friends in their homes or together at your local church, etc.. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
4) Spend time with God. The better you know God, the greater your trust will be in Him; the greater your love will be for Him; the greater your desire will be to obey Him; and the more you’ll desire to worship and praise Him! The way to know God is by spending time reading the Bible and reading and listening to other God-inspired resources. Turn off the TV, put aside your computer, and put down your phone — don’t binge on that which will never satisfy the deepest need of your soul— instead tune into God and focus your attention on hearing what He longs to say to you! He will speak to you as you read the Bible which reveals His character and is the source of all wisdom. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you His wisdom, His heart, and His mind as you open up His ‘love letter’ to you. This would be a great time to read a book of the Bible all of the way through in a single sitting rather than just in snippets. It’s also a great time to memorize verses by writing them down on a 3×5 card and placing them where you will often see them, saying them out loud, and repeating them every day of the quarantine. I encourage you to read devotions as well (I highly recommend ‘My Utmost for Your Highest’ by Oswald Chambers; ‘Streams in the Desert’ and ‘Springs in the Valley’, both by Mrs. Charles Cowman; ‘Live Dead Joy’ by Dick Brogden; and ‘Morning by Morning’ by Charles Spurgeon) or biographies of great men and women of God, and I encourage you to listen on your own as well as with your family to sermons and podcasts,(A wonderful resource for sermons/talks from a variety of godly men and women is sermonindex.com)
5) Claim and Hold Fast to the Promises of God! Knowing God’s Word will give you the wisdom to realize the surest ground you will ever stand upon are the promises of God! God is not a man that He can lie…every word He has spoken is true, and every Word of His will come to pass! (Numbers 23:19; Psalm 89:34; Isaiah 40:8; Isaiah 55:11) What comfort is to be found in God’s promises! Promises like, “For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, ‘Fear not, I am the one who helps you.’” (Isaiah 41:13) Another one of my favorites is: “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19) “And, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”(Proverbs 3:5-6) His most famous promise likely is found in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” The greatest fear that everyone faces is the fear of death, but for us who know God and have put our faith in His finished work on the cross on our behalf, we can know with a certainty that, ‘to be absent from the body is to be present with Christ’, and that death has lost ‘its sting’! (2 Corinthians 5:8; 1 Cor. 15:50-57) When we know that death has been swallowed up in victory, we have no need to be afraid of the Coronavirus, or of anything else!!! Some of God’s other many promises can be found by going to: https://www.biblestudytools.com/topical-verses/gods-promises-verses-in-the-bible/
6) Pray! One of the greatest investments you can make to strengthen your relationship with God and to demonstrate your love for Him and for others is through praying. Below are just a few suggestions for your prayers:
Pray for supernatural wisdom for world leaders and for our national, state and local elected and appointed governmental and business leaders. Pray also for the world’s leaders and for people in every nation to learn to number their days that they may gain a heart of wisdom, to humble themselves and look to and worship Jesus, the Creator and Sustainer of everyone and everything in this world! (Psalm 90:12; Colossians 1:15-23)
Pray for the individuals and the families who have been impacted by the virus; for physical healing for those who are suffering, for comfort for those who mourn, for the salvation of all who have contracted it or who may contract it in the future; and that God would use the fear of the virus to draw all people from all over the world to Himself.
Pray for the health and well-being of all of the health care workers and their families.
Pray for those supplying the food and other essentials to the stores.
Pray for people whose financial situation is precarious, and the multitudes who are concerned about their current as well as future financial situation.
Pray for the Church to arise and be what we have been called to be—faithful to boldly proclaim the ‘good news’ that God so loved the world that He sent His Son so that whosoever would believe in Him might not perish but have everlasting life through faith in Christ! For the Church to love others as Christ has loved the world; willing as He was for us, to lay down our lives for the sake of others.
Pray that the Lord will strengthen your faith so that you will be a faithful witness to the One Who always is and Who always will be ‘Faithful and True’ to you! (Revelation 19:11)
Above all, stand firmly on the truth of God’s Word at all times— especially when the enemy assails you with fear. Choose to fear and love God above all else, and you will be released from every other fear—even the fear of pain, suffering, and death!
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? …we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8: 31-32; 37
A Mighty Fortress is Our God
by Martin Luther
A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and pow’r are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.
And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us;
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.
That word above all earthly pow’rs, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth;
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.
Written by Julie Van Gorp