by anna harrison
Lent takes on new meaning this year when the whole world- Christians and non-Christians alike- are experiencing a coronavirus pandemic known as COVID-19. We’re all clinging to hope that this, too, shall pass and that the virus will pass over and spare our families and friends; that even if we’re exposed, we won’t be infected by what the current president has labeled ‘our invisible enemy’, so that life can return to normal as we know it.
As I often do when troubled, when I woke this morning from a panicked dream I reached for my Bible and opened it, hoping the Holy Spirit would lead me to some words that would calm my fears and help me forget the angst I had just experienced.
And, as usual, I could count on God’s Word to minister to me and so I share it with you. I turned to Isaiah chapter 21, which I encourage you to pause and read now.
Now, y’all bear in mind that I had just woken up from a panic dream myself when I randomly opened the closed Bible to that page. I sat back, dumbfounded, after reading it the first time, then went back and re-read it. I kind of referenced coronavirus as the enemy, in my mind I changed all the names of those locales, of the nations, to become the nations that have suffered significant losses so far from this pandemic; and in thinking of the watchmen as the talking heads on TV and the experts they rely upon, I remembered that they tell us what to watch for by way of symptoms and they’ve instructed us on how we can best fight this attack by washing our hands often, coughing into our elbows, abstaining from touching our faces, staying several feet apart, and staying at home if we’re sick. These are the five recommendations from the World Health Organziation to removed ourselves from harm’s way- the exposure to this virus. The Bible story even went on to say that it will take a long year to defeat this enemy, and they’re telling us now that it will be late summer at the earliest, and possibly up to a year, year and a half before this virus runs its course, so we must be strong and persevere.
It disheartened me that this Scripture indicated that only a few of the stalwart would survive, until I remembered something I used to hear from the pulpit as a child, to the effect that we should fear not, because He will be with us in spirit forever. So I searched Bible Gateway on the Internet to see if my memory served me correctly, and I did come across Isaiah 41 verses 10 and 13 (TLB).
“Fear not, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed. I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will uphold you with my victorious right hand. I am holding you by your right hand—I, the Lord your God—and I say to you, Don’t be afraid; I am here to help you.”
What a comfort it is to know that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost have got our backs, as we say nowadays, thousands of years later. This is not to say everything’s going to be alright and that all of us will walk away from this virus unscathed. As Paul said to the Philippians in chapter 1:29-2:5 (TLB):
“For to you has been given the privilege not only of trusting him but also of suffering for him. We are in this fight together. You have seen me suffer for him in the past; and I am still in the midst of a great and terrible struggle now, as you know so well. Is there any such thing as Christians cheering each other up? Do you love me enough to want to help me? Does it mean anything to you that we are brothers in the Lord, sharing the same Spirit? Are your hearts tender and sympathetic at all? Then make me truly happy by loving each other and agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, working together with one heart and mind and purpose. Don’t be selfish; don’t live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself. Don’t just think about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and in what they are doing. Your attitude should be the kind that was shown us by Jesus Christ.”
In closing, let us remember another well-loved Philippian scripture from chapter 4, verses 6 and 7 (TLB): “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs, and don’t forget to thank him for his answers. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus.”