Lately, each day has brought more troubling news about the spreading COVID-19 virus. Healthcare workers, scientists, and world leaders all acknowledge that they are uncertain of what the future holds. All of us have concerns for ourselves, our loved ones, and fellow believers. But thankfully, we know where to turn. At times like these God’s promises become all the more meaningful and precious. There is nothing tentative about God’s encouragement in Ps. 50:15: “Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you and you will honor me.” The Lord calms anxious hearts with His assurance: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior” (Is. 43:1-3).
Each morning when we open our eyes we can praise the Lord with Jeremiah: “Because of the LORD’S great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lam. 3:22-23). Even though our daily routines are disrupted, it doesn’t mean we don’t have cause for thanksgiving. No matter what is happening around us, we have the inner peace of knowing that all is well between us and God since Jesus has reconciled us by His blood shed on the cross. Each day we can thank God for the opportunities to serve Him and our neighbor in love. Especially at this time when so many are so fearful, watch for ways in which you can share God’s words of comfort with others. Email or text a favorite Bible passage. Spend time talking with someone who feels isolated and lonely.
Another way in which we show Christ-like love for our neighbor is by doing what we can to help prevent the virus from spreading. Government officials are urging people to avoid large groups and unnecessary contact. Paul tells us that the government is instituted by God as His servant for our good and that we honor God when we respect and obey our leaders (Rom. 13).
Keep praying. “The prayer of a believer is powerful and effective” (James 5:16). Ask the Lord that according to His will He would provide healing for those who have contracted the virus and that He would soon bring an end to the pandemic. Ask Him to protect those who are in particular danger because of their care for the sick. Pray for all of us in the Messiah family and for our fellow believers throughout the CLC and our sister synods overseas. Try “praying the church directory.” Go through the directory listing family by family and offer a special prayer for each of them.
Not being able to get out as much as usual may mean more time for Netflix, but even better, it can open up more time to spend with the Lord in His Word. What a blessing if the “new normal” could mean more regular devotions at home and more time spent in personal reading of Scripture.
Finally, even though we will not be getting together as a group for a time, let’s make a point of staying in touch with one another for mutual help and encouragement. Check up on a fellow congregation member who may be alone or struggling in some way or whom you just haven’t spoken to for a while. Without question, this is a difficult time for all of us personally, for us as a congregation and a church body, and for us as a nation. But it is also a blessing, a time to come to the Lord in humble repentance for sin and to receive with renewed appreciation complete forgiveness, the perfect peace of God which passes all understanding, and the confidence that “if God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? (Rom. 8:32). “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you” (Is. 26:3).