Getting Our Attention

We are certainly living in unprecedented times, at least within our experience in this generation. I don’t think that the president was out of line in comparing this to wartime. I have never been through wartime, and none of us alive today have ever experienced war in our own homeland. But here we are.

This certainly causes us to think about a lot of things including the safety of those we love, our own wellbeing, where we’re at spiritually, and what is God’s plan in all of this. I have seen comments by some Christians about this disease being a form of judgment on a sinful world, or by others that this is a sign of the end times. I have a less dramatic but no less impactful perspective on what’s happening.

Since we’ve been in Jonah, I think it’s appropriate to consider his plight as he was swallowed by the fish and under the sea for 3 days and 3 nights. Some commentators consider this time to have been a form of punishment for Jonah for his disobedience. But, as I explained in my last message, I see this time as a demonstration of God’s grace. He gave Jonah a second chance by saving his life and providing a moving temple of worship for Jonah as he was returned to Israel. Certainly it would have been less difficult if he had obeyed in the first place, but he would not have had the deeper experience with God but for the time in the fish.

So it is with our present circumstances. We have been offered two opportunities in the midst of this difficult time. First, we have the opportunity to draw closer to God, to consider our own walk with Him and the personal revival I’ve been talking about. And secondly, we have the opportunity to share our faith and hope with those around us who are living in fear. We know that God is in control, but how can we let others know the same?

“I called out of my distress to the Lord, and He answered me. I cried for help from the depth of Sheol; Thou didst hear my voice.

For Thou hadst cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas. And the current engulfed me. All Thy breakers and billows passed over me.

So I said, ‘I have been expelled from Thy sight. Nevertheless, I will look again toward Thy holy temple.’

Water encompassed me to the point of death. The great deep engulfed me, weeds were wrapped around my head.

I descended to the roots of the mountain. The earth with its bars was around me forever, but Thou has brought up my life from the pit, O Lord my God.

While I was fainting away, I remembered the Lord; And my prayer came to Thee, into Thy holy temple.

Those who regard vain idols forsake their faithfulness, But I will sacrifice to Thee with the voice of thanksgiving.

That which I have vowed I will pay. Salvation is from the Lord.”   Jonah 2:2-9

I don’t know about you, but this passage rings more true to me today than it did even a few weeks ago. Many are feeling a sense of helplessness during this crisis, not knowing whether or not they may be exposed to the virus, and not knowing if they will survive. But in the midst of his helplessness in the sea and in the fish, Jonah knew where to turn and where his salvation came from.

So I encourage you to look to Him in this time of uncertainty. Take time each day to spend with the Lord, in prayer for yourself, your family and the body. Also spend time in the Word, to seek His perspective. That is where our anchor is. Are you in need of a revival of your soul?

With our faith strengthened in prayer and scripture, we can then look outward to those around us in need. Don’t try to do this from your own strength, but from the strength you receive from Him. How can you be of encouragement to those around you? Think of those you know will be fearful and reach out to them with a call or an email. Use this opportunity to talk about how faith can bring peace.

I am looking for ways to minister calm at work as I communicate with hundreds of people each week. Although I can’t talk directly about my faith, I can point people to spiritual resources along with the other resources that are available. Please pray for me as I pray for you, to make the most of the opportunities we have. People don’t need doomsday warnings, they need to know the hope they can have in Christ.

Readings: John 14:27, Romans 5:1-5

Philippians 4:6-7 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”