Tag Archives: pandemic

The Unknown Future

My wife Diann gave me the idea for the following reflection concerning the pandemic of the coronavirus and how it’s changed how we view the future. I want to give her credit because I’m “staying home” with her, “sheltering-in-place” with her or however you want to put it, and so I DO NOT WANT her to be angry with me!

She was sharing with me how we’ve always known we can’t predict the future and that our plans are always subject to change, but that we’ve never known that to be as true as we do now! So many of our plans, most of our plans, have been dramatically changed because of the pandemic in a way that’s never happened before.

Before the pandemic we gave mental assent and lip service to the fact that the future is unpredictable, but we hadn’t grasped that truth in a heartfelt way as we have in this pandemic of the coronavirus. We planned graduations, weddings, vacations, sports events, and other major life events not giving much thought that we might not be carrying through on those plans.

My mother would often conclude a reference to what she was planning with the phrase “the Lord willing.” Being my mother’s son I have often done the same. From here on out, when I use the phrase, I’m going to be putting more meaning into it!

This new respect for the future’s unpredictable nature puts us in a better position to relate to God in a more appropriate way! God is the one who is ultimately in charge of the future, not us. God is the one who knows the future before it happens, not us. The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

When we insist that we can manage our future from the present, that we’re in control, we deny God’s sovereign rule. One of the keys to having a healthy, maturing, and deepening relationship with God is to recognize His right to have ultimate control over our life. That not only means yielding to His will and leadership in the present but yielding the future to Him as well! We shouldn’t look for God to bless our plans for the future but look to being blessed by God’s plans for us in the future!

Does this means we give up making plans? Of course not. God’s designed us to be able to think ahead, to plan. It’s just that it’s all subject to His approval!

As we reflect on all the plans that have not turned out the way we planned, we can turn it into a positive. It can deepen our resolve to be ever ready to yield to God’s ways when they are not the same as our ways, to be open to His will always. I don’t know about you, but that wasn’t something I planned on learning at this particular time!

“Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.'” James 4:13-15

Faith in a Pandemic

Martin Luther painted by Lucas Cranach the Elder in 1529

As we deal with the pandemic of the coronavirus, we can learn much from something the great church reformer Martin Luther wrote over 400 years ago. I first saw this quote in a post on the Rock Point Church (of Schertz, Texas) Facebook page. Their post stated…

“When Martin Luther was dealing with The Black Death (Bubonic Plague, 14th-16th centuries), he wrote these wise words that can help inform the way we approach things happening in our world right now…

‘I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance inflict and pollute others and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me, and I have done what he has expected of me, and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me, however, I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely as stated above. See this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God.’

And so Luther stayed in his hometown of Wittenberg, Germany, along with his pregnant wife. He cared for and ministered to those dying of The Black Death until the plague had passed from his area.

Quote From: Luther’s Works Volume 43 pg 132 the letter “Whether one may flee from a Deadly Plague” written to Rev. Dr. John Hess.

I wanted to pass along this Facebook post because Martin Luther’s words are insightful and helpful all these years later! So are the words of the Psalmist with which we close.

“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’ You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.”  Psalm 91:1-2 & 5-6

The Pandemic’s “Pause” Button

Remember when we used to go to sports events, movies, restaurants, church activities, social events, school, and work? And how many hours didn’t we spend in going here, there, and back again!

The coronavirus pandemic has pushed the “pause” button on much that made up our busy lives. Most of it was good, and we hope we can get back to it sometime soon. But are there opportunities as we live with the pause button pushed?

Being a person of faith in God, I’ve come to the conclusion, along with multitudes of others, that if God allows something to exist or happen, such as this pandemic, then He has a plan and purpose for it. So, how does He want us to use this pause in our lives?

God’s into pauses. In the seven day week He’s designated we set aside one day a week for rest, the Sabbath it’s called, a day to pause. We’ve not always been very good at following His command on this, one of His Ten Commandments.

With much of life on pause how about asking ourselves, “What’s God trying to tell me through this?” “What lesson or lessons am I to learn?” Our busy lives have kept us from really thinking, we’ve been so caught up in doing. The tyranny of the urgent has often kept us from addressing what’s important. Now that our lives have been put on pause, in one way or another it’s a good opportunity to reflect on what’s really important in life.

We’ll need to resist the temptation to spend time grumbling, we don’t hear much from God when grumbling. Binge watching old TV shows or movies probably isn’t at the top of God’s list of ways to make the most of this time on pause either. Familiar addictions and sins over which we’ve gained ground can slip back when we have additional time on our hands, reinforcing Ben Franklin’s warning that “idle hands are the devil’s playthings.”

This is not a time to find ways to kill time but to find ways to redeem the time! The pause button can prompt us to think, read, act, and pray our way to being a better person, more the person God wants us to be.

In spite of the need for social distancing we can find creative ways to nurture closer and deeper relationships with each other. We can rediscover that being is more important than doing, resting is better than rushing, and affirming others better than self-achievement! We can move God from the periphery of our busy life to the center of our quieted soul.

Ironically, even though life is currently on pause for many of us, it’s possible we can later arrive at a place where we discover we’ve fast forwarded in important areas of our life! How about we pause and think about that?

“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.” Isaiah 30:15

Peace in a Pandemic

Ethan walking down the steps to our house with me. Ethan, his sister Grace, and their mother live at Refuge Ranch where their mother is on staff.

The coronavirus pandemic is having a major effect on every one of us in a variety of ways, from impacting our normal schedules and activities to affecting what we can purchase because of shortages of essential items. We can’t keep from thinking about the pandemic…a lot! It’s easy to worry at a time like this; it’s difficult to experience any measure of peace at a time like this.

Much is being said about the symptoms that indicate a person might have the coronavirus. There’s a symptom, however, that many of us exhibit concerning the coronavirus even though we most likely don’t have the virus. That symptom is fear.

Fear can be good. A healthy fear of the virus prompts us to take appropriate precautions and actions that can help protect us and also contribute to the containment of the virus.

This symptom of fear, however, can also be bad. Fear can distract us from focusing on our normal daily activities that continue to need our attention. Fear can be debilitating, the anxiety reaching a level of panic at this pandemic. Fear can weaken our faith in God, distancing us from Him.

I’d like to remind us of an available vaccine that can be helpful, not for the pandemic itself, but for the pandemic-inspired fear that can infect our mind, heart, and soul. Just as a vaccine often uses a very small dose of the actual disease to fight the infection, I’d like to suggest how a proper small dosage of fear can be used as an antidote to fight the big fears that infect us.

Picture a small child, a toddler, facing a bunch of steps that he wants to go down. He’s old enough to fear falling head over heels if he attempts to go down the steps. He uses his fear to prompt him to reach out for the hand of the adult who is alongside him. Reaching up, he grasps the big hand of the adult that’s reaching down. He has the same fear of the steps, that has not gone away, but now he confidently takes the steps because he is holding on to someone bigger than himself in whom he has faith. What he doesn’t even realize is that the adult’s grip on him is far greater than his grip on the adult!

The symptom of fear that we exhibit in confronting the coronavirus can be used to prompt us to reach out our hand in faith to grasp the hand of God that is reaching down to us! And to realize that our weak grip of faith is enough, for His grip on us is far stronger! No matter what we face, no matter what will happen, He will be with us, and in the ultimate sense, it will be okay! We can have peace in this pandemic!

“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me…” King David in Psalm 23:4a