I need not write about COVID-19 here. One google search will yield you hundreds of results but the short of it is it has become a pandemic that has affected and still affects the world at large as of writing. In fact, it is still spreading in many parts of the world.
Pres. Duterte has already issued a sea, land and air travel ban effective March 15 to April 14. My flight to Taiwan for the Holy Week has already been cancelled due to the travel ban. I didn’t realize how serious it is in my city until a friend sent me a video of people panic buying in one grocery store. The whole world is in hysteria!
The news, social media, and almost all conversations have centered around COVID-19. There is fear. There is panic. There are doubts. There are more questions than answers. Everybody, including myself, says that the world is not safe.
The future is cloudy. Our understanding is lacking, but let us not forget that in the midst these things remain – faith, hope and love. If we look for them, we will find them.
What then do we do in times like this?
I suggest that we do five things.
P is for Pause & Pray.
Pause the panic. Pause the fear.
Pray on our knees because we know that peace comes only from God.
Notice that I didn’t say stop the panic or stop the fear. I just said pause it. For control freaks like I am, stopping something may not come easy, but pausing? Yes, I can do that. I can pause.
Let’s pause. Let’s pray. To the One True God of the Bible.
I hear some people say that in times like this, we should really do something because “religion is just a crutch for the cowards“. Whoever said that line, I agree with you. Religion is indeed a crutch because religion is dead. But you know what is not a crutch? Jesus Christ!
Religion is a crutch but a relationship with Jesus Christ is my assurance. Our only assurance. We can never put our assurance to any man, science or discovery. Only to God. Period.
Do our prayers really matter?
Why pray? I’m not asking why in the sense of needing this or that. I’m speaking of why in the context of God’s sovereignty. If God is going to do something regardless of whether or not we pray, then He doesn’t need us to ask and we don’t need another ‘waste of time’. If it’s all que sera sera then, let’s take a siesta, let it all just happen.
Does a Sovereign, All-Powerful (Omnipotent) God need our prayers? I believe He does! Well, actually we need it more for us than for Him.
The answer to why prayer is necessary lies in God’s original plan when He created Adam – Genesis 1: 26:
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
Then in Psalm 8:3-8 David says this:
When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?
You have made them a little lower than the angels
and crowned them with glory and honor.
You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
you put everything under their feet:
all flocks and herds,
and the animals of the wild,
the birds in the sky,
and the fish in the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.
The Hebrew word משׁל mashal translated ‘rule’ indicates that Adam (and his descendants) was God’s manager on earth, a steward or governor. God didn’t give away ownership of the earth, but He assigned us the responsibility of governing it.
In Genesis 2:15, we read –
Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.
The word keep is a translation of the Hebrew word שׁמר shamar which means ‘to keep, watch over, guard‘.
Based on the preceding verses, let’s summarize:
Adam was God’s governor or manager on earth. The earth was Adam’s assignment, it was under his charge or care. Adam was the watchman or guardian. How things go on planet earth, for better or for worse, depended on Adam and his offspring – us.
Stay with me here. When we get to the end, you’ll understand why.
My purpose here is not to overwhelm or impress you with a lot of Hebrew words, but to give context and a better understanding of God’s plan for humankind.
Think about it – if the earth remained a paradise, it would be because of humankind.
If things messed up, it would be because of humankind.
If the serpent gained control, it is because of humankind.
Because humanity was in charge!
Why would God do it this way?
Why would He take such a risk?
From what I know about God in Scripture, I can think of one reason – God wanted a family who could personally relate to Him and He to them. He doesn’t want programmed robots.
GOD works through the prayers of His people
So complete and final was Adam’s authority over the earth that he had the ability to give it away to another. Read Luke 4:6-7 when Satan was tempting Jesus –
And the devil said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.”
So complete and final was God’s decision to do things on earth through human beings that it cost God the Incarnation to regain what Adam gave away in the garden. God had to become a part of the human race. I can’t think of a more staggering truth!
Without a doubt, humans are to be God’s link to authority and activity on the earth.
The reason why prayer is necessary is because God chose, from the time of creation, to work on earth through humans. Though God is Sovereign and Omnipotent, Scripture clearly tells us that He ‘limited’ Himself concerning the affairs of earth, to working through earthlings called humans.
Let’s take our lesson from Israel’s wicked leaders in the time of Ezekiel as we read in chapter 22, verses 29-31:
29 The people of the land have used oppressions, committed robbery, and mistreated the poor and needy; and they wrongfully oppress the stranger. 30 So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one. 31 Therefore I have poured out My indignation on them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath; and I have recompensed their deeds on their own heads,” says the Lord God.
My own paraphrase of the passage above would read something like this – “While My justice demanded judgment, My love wanted forgiveness. Had I been able to find a human to ask Me to spare this people, I could have. It would have allowed Me to show mercy. Because I found no one, however, I had to destroy them.”
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that COVID19 is God’s judgment. Truth is, I don’t know. I’m no prophet. All I know is that we need to PAUSE and PRAY.
Either God wants the earth in this condition or He doesn’t. If He doesn’t, which is certainly the case, then we must assume one of two things – either He is powerless to do anything about it (which He isn’t, He is God of Infinite Power), or He needs us to pray.
And change does not necessarily mean a change of circumstances, but perhaps a change in our hearts.
Let’s rise to the occasion, COVID-19 or not, let’s make it a habit to PAUSE AND PRAY.
Pause the panic. Pause the fear.
Pause Netflix. Pause cable.
Pause social media. Pause the news.
Panic, fear, social media, news and any form of entertainment won’t do us good. But prayer will reconnect us to our Creator.
And know this – He is good. And He is God.
Questions for Reflection | Actionable steps you can do
- When was the last time you prayed on your knees? Go ahead, find a place where you can be on your knees and pray to God.
- Text or message a friend or friends & ask how you can pray for them. Then, pray for them. Don’t wait until your next quiet time or the next hour, pray for them as soon as they have replied to your message.
- How can you be a faithful manager of God on this earth? Think of one thing. Go ahead and do it. Be faithful in doing it. If we each do our share, our individual efforts pulled together can go a long way.
Be cautious but also think beyond your own comforts.