Christian response to the current pandemic is, above all, an opportunity for us to show the world how trust in an Almighty God makes a difference. Guaranteed I don’t have the answers; however, I do know God is still in control, prayer is our first line of defense, and this isn’t the only time the world has experienced hardship.
OF COURSE, THERE WAS THE BLACK DEATH
People started getting sick. High fevers, seeping sores then diarrhea and vomiting and often death within days. The people in Germany knew what was happening. After all, they had heard about this terrible scourge that plagued Europe since October 1347 when twelve ships from the Black Sea docked in Messina, Sicily. The ships were filled with dead bodies and the rest were barely alive.
Bubonic Plague continued to rear its ugly head in the world during the 1300’s through the mid 1700’s. And in 1527 it was working its way through Wittenberg, Germany. Consequently, shops closed, people kept their distance, no one wanted to help those who were sick, and those with the means fled – sometimes leaving sick family members to die. Moreover, even clergy, doctors, and government officials left the people to fend for themselves.
MARTIN LUTHER’S CHRISTIAN RESPONSE
However, there is one man (and I’m sure others) who stayed despite orders to leave. It had been ten years since Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses (1517) beginning the Protestant Reformation. Don’t know much about the Reformation? Click here for a three minute video overview. I admit I don’t know a lot, but we should all know a little about this historical event that changed the Christian church forever. It’s worth three minutes when you are stuck at home anyway! Okay, I know, I digress.
In spite of the risk, Luther did not flee, additionally, he wrote a now famous letter – also worth taking the time to read.
Why did he risk his life and even the life of his pregnant wife and children? This leader of the Reformation based his decision on Matthew 25: 34—46. It is here Jesus explained that taking care of others when sick, hungry, in prison, or lost is the Christian response.
CHARLES SPURGEON AND HIS CHRISTIAN RESPONSE
Spurgeon was a young man (20 years of age) when he came to pastor New Park Street Chapel and consequently found himself in the middle of a cholera outbreak in London – specifically the 1854 epidemic in the Soho district.
It was during this time he realized that those who showed no interest in the gospel prior to this deadly illness sought out the Good News. This terrible outbreak of disease was an opportunity to lead people to Christ; therefore, this man of God did just that.
Don’t let a crisis go to waste is a cynical and unfortunate political tactic; however this catastrophe was the right time to lead people to Jesus, further God’s kingdom, and grow spiritually.
ISRAELITES RESPONSE TO NATIONAL DISASTERS
Of course, the Old Testament is full of national disasters. After all, the book of Judges records one after another. The people disobeyed God’s laws and He allowed enemies to conquer the Israelites. The people grew tired of the oppression, so they repented and cried out to God for help. God raised up a Judge to overcome their persecutor and for a while people were grateful, but fell into disobedience again. This went on for 325 years!
Furthermore, the book of Joel is a warning of God’s impending judgment because of His people’s sins;
however, it is also full of hope for those who repent. (Joel 2: 12—13)
I AM NOT SAYING THAT COVID-19 IS A PUNISHMENT FROM GOD, but I am pointing out that when disaster struck the Israelites repented – turning to God for help, grace, and rescue. We, too often, turn to government and science to save us instead of the One who ultimately saves.
SO WHAT IS OUR CHRISTIAN RESPONSE?
Some of these responses are recycled, but still timely.
Let’s take our Christian Response from Luther by serving others.
I know, I know it is hard to make our Christian response service when we are to stay home. Here are some suggestions:
Take food to a food pantry. There are many people out of work right now.
Send cards to a nursing home with uplifting messages.
Run errands for those who can’t get out.
Call the elderly and check on them, but more importantly, talk for a while.
There is also the Christian response of Spurgeon: Share Jesus and grow spiritually
When you send cards or call people make sure you don’t just serve the saved, but seek out those who don’t know our Lord and Savior. Always include Bible verses and some salvation message.
Post Scripture on FB and other social media.
Do family devotions. You have a captive audience and they may come to appreciate this time together. For some help to get you started go to the top of this page and click on devotionals then choose children’s devotional and choose one then click on download PDF version. There are 19 short lessons, which begin with Genesis and end with Jeremiah and Lamentations. That is all the further I’ve gotten thus far! It is fun to start with #1.
Learn the importance of silence by reading: Silence. Is it biblical?
Last, but not least take a clue from the Israelites and prayer to God with a humble and repentant heart
Of course, our Christian response must be prayer. Pray the God takes this virus from the world and pray for those who are ill. There is a prayer at the end of this post to get you started.
This is a good time for self-reflection. Neglecting to seek forgiveness for specific sins grieves the Holy Spirit and affects our relationship with God. Pray these Psalms to prepare your heart for confession: 6, 32, 51, 103, and 130. Additionally, these Scriptures help you recognize your sin: Luke 18: 8—14, Acts 3: 19—20, and 1 John 1:9. Don’t forget to pray for the sins of our nation.
Have a day of Thanksgiving.
When you pray don’t ask God for anything, but instead focus on gratitude. Every hour take a few minutes to read Scripture and focus on what you are grateful for in life. At day’s end read your long list. This is a great family project.
Suggested Scriptures for this exercise: Psalms 18, 30, 32, 67, 100, 107, 118, 135, 138, 145. Other passages: 1 Chronicles 16:34, Isaiah 12, Isaiah 51: 1—3, Colossians 2: 6—7, Colossians 3: 14—17, 1 Thessalonians 5:18, and Hebrews 12: 26—28.
Here is a link to a sermon on six ways to deal with a crisis by my Pastor.
COMMENTS ON CHRISTIAN RESPONSE
Additionally, please comment below with any suggestions on how to get through this difficult time in the world. If you have other ideas than those listed I know our readers will appreciate something fresh and new. Of course, if you have other examples of Christian Response to a past pandemic share that too.
In the meantime, let us pray this prayer together as we wait to see God work.
Father, We are trapped in a continuous cycle of sin and have turned our backs on you. This grieves you and we don’t seem to really care. We kill babies in the womb and don’t respect or obey your laws. Our focus is on fun, fame, money, success, and other worldly endeavors. Let this time bring us to our knees with a repentant heart, not one that is sorrowful over the consequences, but a true desire to turn to you once again.
Father, we remember those whose are affected by this pandemic personally through illness, death, job loss, or any other way. God we pray for the lonely in the nursing homes and hospitals where no visitors allowed. Many, especially the elderly may be scared without their normal support system and those with weakened minds are even more confused and frightened. We pray for comfort and healing for them at this time.
We lift up those whose job it is to take risks to help others. Those in the medical field, firefighters, military, and police. Also, those who continue to work and provide us with food services and banking needs. We pray for special protection on these groups of individuals who serve us during this difficult time. Help us encourage them and not make their jobs harder.
Despite our lack of church services help us be the church and use this time to draw people closer to you. Give our leaders wisdom as they make decisions. I pray they are seeking Your guidance.
God we are on our knees begging for mercy for this lost world as we watch life as we know it change, possibly forever. In fact, God, we pray that our lives may be changed giving us more appreciation of our blessings, health, and joys of life. We also pray that we grow in wisdom. Let us use this as a time of refreshment, prayer, Bible study, and seeking a stronger relationship with You. In Jesus Name. Amen
Blessings until next time.