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FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
 

FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL

A PERSPECTIVE ON COVID-19
(Part 12)

OUR WAY OUT

April 3, 2020

COVID-19 has brought the whole world to its knees. This means two things. For much of the world, it is being reduced to a position of helplessness and desperation. For Christians (and hopefully non-Christians as well), it means being humbled and becoming prayerful. For the former, there is increasing hopelessness; for the latter, there is always hope.

The world faces a dilemma. Lockdown to flatten the curve and hopefully defeat the pandemic? But this has quickly brought the world to economic dislocation and is threatening arecession. The cure can become worse than the disease. Or open up society and get people back to work? But this can lead to more infections and deaths. There are no easy choices or solutions. It is a seemingly lose-lose situation.

What is a quick way out? It is to find a cure or vaccine. ASAP. And so the world is feverishly working at one. And aside from the work of scientists and epidemiologists, what can help? It is prayer. Who can help? Only God. The whole world needs to pray.

King Solomon and all the people of Israel had dedicated the Temple. The Lord spoke to Solomon and what the Lord told him is the key for us today in defeating COVID-19.

We must first know this basic reality: God does chastise His people for their sins. To miss this point, or even to deny this point as some bishops have done, is to not understand what God is doing, and in not understanding, we will miss what God wants us to do. The world we live in today is in deep darkness and much sin. Many, including many Christians, have turned away from God.

How does such chastisement come? The prophet Ezekiel speaks of the “four evil punishments­sword, famine, wild beasts, and plague” (Ez 14:21). This is echoed in John’s vision of the fourth seal, where Death and Hades would “kill with sword, famine, and plague, and by means of the beasts of the earth.” (Rev 6:8). In this vision, they would bring death and decay to “over a quarter of the earth.” Hopefully this is not yet time for the end and not that many will die. But we can see the terrifying possibilities.

Many think of the end in terms of death with the sword, or, translated to modern times, by global nuclear war. But it could also come through ecological destruction, or plagues, or pandemic diseases. Right this moment, locust swarms have invaded Africa, and billions of locusts are ravaging crops and devouring food sources for millions of people.This could cause massive starvation and famine. Then we have COVID-19.

God had said to Solomon, “If I close heaven so that there is no rain, if I command the locust to devour the land, if I send pestilence among my people, ….” (2 Chr 7:13). God does do these things to chastise His people. God then tells Solomon, and us, what we are to do.

“if then my people, upon whom my name has been pronounced,
humble themselves and pray,
and seek my face and turn from their evil ways,
I will hear them from heaven
and pardon their sins and heal their land.”
(2 Chronicles 7:14).

Who are the people upon whom God’s name has been pronounced? These are the Christians. The responsibility lies basically with us. We are the ones who know the one true God. As such, we are the ones to implore the true and all-powerful God for His divine help. Then whatever we do will affect the rest of the world. What are we to do?

First, we are to humble ourselves. COVID-19 has shown the world how helpless it truly is. A microscopic pathogen has shut down everything. The world has been priding itself in its accomplishments. They have begun to look on themselves as gods. But now whatever they have built can be destroyed in an instant. That should be humbling. It is what is needed for the world to turn to God.

Second, we are to pray. We turn to God in prayer. We recognize God’s dominion over the world, which the world has rejected, and accept that only God can make things right. We recognize our helplessness and hopelessness apart from God. We implore God for His mercy.

Third, we are to seek God’s face. We must know Him, understand His ways, and hear Him speak to us. We are told by the psalmist, “Seek out the Lord and his might; constantly seek his face.” (Ps 105:4). Now, as we are on lockdown, is a perfect time to seek God’s face. Aside from prayer, we are to look to the word of God, the Bible. Then there is further study of various aspects of our faith. There is still much to learn.

Fourth, we are to turn from our evil ways. As we get to know more of God’s word, we can know what is pleasing to Him or not. Then we must repent of sin and resolve to sin no more. We repent of the wrong we do and for not doing the right we ought to do. We also not only reject sin but strive to move on to greater righteousness and holiness.

Then what will God do?

First, God will hear us from heaven. God is concerned about us. God does have a future full of hope for us. But we need to turn to Him. We need to spend time with Him, as children of the Father, brothers and disciples of Jesus, and holy warriors of the Spirit. God will not withhold good things from us. God assures us, “Now, therefore, my eyes shall be open and my ears attentive to the prayer of this place” (2 Chr 7:15).

Second, God will pardon our sins. As we repent, God assures us of His forgiveness. No sin is too grave. But we need to place God back in His rightful place in our lives, as our number one priority. And we must never again turn back to darkness and sin. God warns us, “But if ever you turn away and forsake my commandments and statutes which I set before you, and proceed to serve other gods, and bow down to them, I will uproot the people from the land I gave and repudiate the house I have consecrated for my name.” (2 Chr 7:19-20a).

Third, God will heal our land. Aha. If only we would do what we need to do, then God can stop this pandemic in its tracks. If only we would learn our lessons, then God can restore peace in our lives and in the world.

God has given us the way out of this pestilence that is COVID-19. Let us then do what God tells us to do.

* * *

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