Article: A CHRISTIAN REFLECTION IN THE MIDST OF COVID-19 | JACOB VARGHESE

I am sure all of us are updated with the data regarding COVID-19. I am not an expert in that field and I am not able to analyze those details but one thing we know that within these couple of weeks lakhs of people around the world have been affected and thousands have lost their lives. Have you ever thought about it in our micro situation? What would happen if any of us gets it? What would happen if somebody whom we really love gets it? How would we feel? What would it feel like? Would we be calm or anxious? Being a Christian how do we respond to a situation like this in our life?

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I trust God and I am sure God can do amazing things. For that we need to have an attitude of patience and peace.
During this very difficult time, it is absolutely unlike that anything of this kind we have ever experienced before. We are hearing these terms everywhere we turn like- pandemic, social distancing, self-quarantine, lock down, work from home, online classes etc. Business and economy are impacted drastically and the reality of not being able to be with friends and family in this time is just unbelievably devastating. Many of the events have been called off and cancelled including marriages, even funerals are affected. Needless to say, these are extremely difficult days. We need to stay informed rather than being panicked and need to look to God in this unprecedented time and need to follow all the guidelines and recommendation from our state and central government. At the same time let us find ways to stay in touch. Thank God we live in an era where through technology we can stay connected, though we need to be careful, we are able to keep in touch with people and maintain our relationship.

When we are hearing all kinds of reports, it is hard to know what to trust, whom to trust but I want to encourage you, as I encourage myself we have to trust God and stand on God’s unchanging word. What does God’s word say? Some great scriptures that come to my mind are Isaiah 41:10 where God says “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand”. Psalm 46:10 says “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Proverbs 18:10 says “The name of the Lord is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe”. In 2 Thessalonians 3:16 says “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you”. I have found some quotes from Dr.Billy Graham’s writings. The first one says “the only hope for enduring peace is Jesus Christ, God’s mercy and grace give us hope and for our world.” I think it is rightly applicable to the situation we find ourselves in now. Another quote is this “Christians can trust God to redeem even the greatest of tragedies and most desperate of situations”

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In Joshua1:9 where the Lord says “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Bottom line is this, our world is traumatized right now and even as a Christian, we may be going through trauma as a result of everything going on around and we hear through the media. When we go through a tough time in life, we know there is something different that we as Christians can do. Though we are not able to gather together in church like we used to but we have a God who tells that He can identify with our suffering. As per Hebrews 4:15 we have a great high priest who is able to empathize with our weaknesses because He was just like us who has been tempted in every way, just as we are, yet He did not sin. John 16:33 Jesus says “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Psalm 34:19 says “The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all” 2 Corinthians 4:17 says “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all”. Think about Covid-19 as our momentary and temporary affliction. I know this doesn’t seem light right now. This is pretty heavy stuff but from the perspective of eternity even this global pandemic is a light affliction. It will make sense one day in God’s timing for us in eternal glory. It is easy to worry during times like this in the midst of the fear of the unknown and uncertainty and it makes perfect sense. Everywhere we turn the news that we are hearing, we even as believers would be worried. But I just want to encourage you as I encourage myself with some more scriptures that comes to my mind. In Philippians 4:6-7, God says “do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”. I love what Jesus says in Matthew 6:34 “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own”.

As these days Churches can’t gather for worship, I think God might be trying to teach all of us something during this time. It’s never really been about just going to church, it is about being the church, you know when you say look at the church, really biblically speaking a church is not a building but the church is me, it is you, we are the temple of God, we are the chosen ones, God could be teaching us in this time, who is church? Basically speaking, the church is the ambassadors of Christ, we are called Christ’s ambassadors, and we are called the body of Christ. I cannot tell you what is going to happen to this virus. But I want to speak into the life of our church from a perspective of Christians who should have faith. I want to focus on the goodness of our God. We as followers of Christ are not going to live in fear. We live by faith not by Fear. In John Chapter 14:1 Jesus was comforting His disciples, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me” In verse 27 again He says “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid”. We know Jesus so we do not live in fear. He gives us peace that is not of this world, it is from His kingdom. We live by faith not by fear. When the rest of the world lives in fear we open up the gift from God that is peace of mind. A peace that is not anything this world would understand. Jesus says the peace I give you is a gift the world cannot give. So do not be troubled or be afraid. God is not panicked, He is not taken aback, He is not surprised, and He is not afraid. We have to remember our God is always faithful. He is always in control. Our God is good. Our God has a plan. Our God will never leave us. He will never forsake us. He is worthy of our praise in all things, everything, everywhere and every day. Whatever we are going through, our God is working it out for our good. If our God is for us, who can be against us?
Many ask why God is allowing all of this to happen. But the truth is everything that has been happening was already foretold in the Bible. It is the inevitable fulfillment of the scripture. God has always allowed humanity to go through such difficult times. The question is why? We need to remember when everything is going well, our tendency is to relax and relay on our own strength. Many imagine they are self-sufficient and they forget God but moments like these show us we are nothing. In the blink of an eye, an invisible enemy appeared to take the lives of thousands with no regard to social class, race or status. Where is the powerful now? Our money and power can do nothing to stop this virus from spreading. In times like these we see how fragile and insignificant we are. Only in times like these we stop to reflect and bow before the one true God. Yes, it is time for us to humble before God the most high and seek His help. Christian faith is exciting, true and relevant even today. God’s plan is to minimize us, and maximize ‘Christ in us’! And He will do whatever it takes to make it happen. EVEN IF IT IS COVID-19 FOR THAT! When we succeed through our own efforts, we take the credit. But when we have to depend on God, He gets the credit. It is God who makes us able to do all that we do. God’s love for us is matchless and immeasurable. God is merciful. But do not take God’s mercy for granted! There is a limit to God’s mercy. Remember the day of mercy will soon be ended. The door of hope will soon be closed. This is the time! Do not postpone. He loves you and wants a relationship with you.

 

Do we intentionally choose to isolate ourselves to pray? It is written in the Bible that Jesus often withdrew from the crowd to pray. Prayer was not an occasional activity for Him but it was His habit. He was addicted to communion with the Father. Take time to pray and hear God’s Word. The news around us is discouraging, but God’s word is encouraging. So let us be encouraged through prayer, reading and listening to God’s word and encourage one another to pray like our Lord Jesus Christ, constantly isolate ourselves to a lonely place to pray. During this time of quarantine at home, take this opportunity not just to spend time with our family, watch Television and social media. This is the time God has given especially for us to isolate ourselves to pray. Take this crisis as a God-given joy to nurture our prayer lives.
The question I want to ask today is what is God’s message to us in these troublesome and trying times we are facing. Let us turn the word of God for direction and assurance and one of the verses I want you to turn to is Psalm103:19 The Lord has established his throne in heaven,
and his kingdom rules over all. That means God is in control of all these. He knows before it happened, He knows why it happened and He knows how long it is going to happen. What is our response to what God has allowed to happen at this time in our country and our world? This is not a time for fear but of courage. We will win this battle but our response is very important. It is time for prayer and confidence. What is God’s instruction to us as believers? As believers we have a powerful influence in this country. All of us know the encouraging words seen in Psalm 23 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Isaiah 41:9 says I have chosen you and have not rejected you. This is a wonderful promise God has given us for times like this.

The writer of Psalm says in 119:71 my suffering was good for me, for it taught me to pay attention to your decrees. This is the time for prayer, prayer like never before. Not a time for fear and depression but a time for faith and obedience. It is the time to reflect how our relationship with Jesus Christ is. Jeremiah 24:7 says I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart. 2 Chronicles 7:14 says if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Where are you spiritually in your relationship with God? Would you say that your life style makes a contribution to the healing of our land, our nation? 1 John 1:9 says if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. We need to confess our sins not only for the sake of our good health but for the sake of the good health of our nation. We need to surrender our lives to Jesus Christ, trust Him to save us and our nation. We think just telling the gospel is enough, that is not true we need to start applying it. We need to start realizing why Jesus left us on this earth. The reason we exist as Christians on this earth is to shine for Jesus. We are the light of this world. Let our light so shine before men that they may see our good works and glorify our father who is in heaven. The reason we are here is to live for Christ. In the midst of the present situation, people are looking for an alternative. An alternative is not there because we Christians are afraid. We need to become that alternative. We need to reach out to the people; we need to conquer people with love. We need to erect light houses for Jesus, a door for people to enter in and to know the love of God. We need to stop being self-satisfied. We need to rise up to the challenge God has placed in front of us today.

Revelation 3:8 says “I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name”. It takes love to take advantage of the open door. No love, no open doors. Our God is a living God, Holy God, loving God, and righteous God, who loves all the people that is the message we need to get across to people around us. Despite the lingering uncertainty, COVID-19 silently offers us an opportunity to reflect on the spiritual impact it has on the world and our communities. So, in this time of crisis, be free from fear, even free from the fear of death and we as faithful believers in Jesus Christ ask for God’s wisdom and be wise, don’t think as the world thinks, cultivate your relationship with God, love God and those around you, serve them, do things for them, seek out opportunities to share the gospel and pray for the Body of Christ.
JACOB VARGHESE

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