3 Keys to A Christian Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic

Today I’m sharing from Core Christianity

3 Keys to A Christian Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic

By Ryan Thomas

“There is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). That was easier to believe a couple of weeks ago. Although this certainly isn’t the first time a crisis has captured the world’s attention, few to none have had the sort of global impact as the advent of Covid-19. Maybe you have noticed a change in your mood. Going to the store makes you anxious. Troubling questions have begun to surface with greater regularity and intensity. Why has God allowed these events to happen? Where is this all headed? How do I find him in the midst of this madness?

In times like these, it is easy to become so glued to our televisions that we effectively mute God. Coronavirus and its deadly impact have flooded mainstream media coverage. Social media is awash with humorous memes about social distancing. And living somewhere between the humor and the horror, perhaps you are wondering, what am I to do?

Unless we are careful to peel our eyes from our screens and open our Bibles, inclining our ears to hear the Lord’s voice speaking to us from his Word, other voices will dominate the conversation. That doesn’t mean that the Bible should be our only source of guidance. It won’t answer every question about the Coronavirus—or any virus, for that matter—because even if the Bible does encourage handwashing (upon penalty of death, no less; Exodus 30:21), its purpose lies elsewhere. We still need experts to weigh in on the various medical, social, political, and economic factors. In other words, Christians should be diligent hand washers, not because of Exodus 30:21, but because infectious disease specialists say it is one of the best ways to prevent viral spread.

What we will find in Scripture to help us through this unique time is everything we need to know in order to glorify God and enjoy him forever. We’ll find guidance that applies whether our best-laid plans go awry or the world turns upside down. In fact, as Christians, you and I face the same difficult choice today that we faced yesterday, and will face again tomorrow. That is, will we trust in and follow Jesus?

So what does that look like in the face of rapidly changing response plans, ominous projections, and much uncertainty about the future? What, in short, should characterize your response?

1. Faith, not Fear

The point isn’t that we never feel afraid, but that we act in faith rather than react in fear. Fear is consumed by circumstances. It sets its gaze upon the horizon in a tireless search for trouble. “I hear the whispering of many—terror on every side!—as they scheme together against me, as they plot to take my life” (Psalm 31:13). Fear always looks out, but never up.

That doesn’t mean that faith is ignorant. No, it knows the trouble that surrounds it, but nevertheless chooses to look up to God in faith. “I had said in my alarm, ‘I am cut off from your sight.’ But you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy when I cried to you for help” (Psalm 31:22).

Read the rest here.

I Trust in You, O LORD

But I trust in You, O LORD;
I say, “You are my God.” 

My times are in Your hands.
—Psalm 31:14-15

Once again, I struggled to unscrew the top from a jar but the stubborn cap refused to budge. Just as I was getting ready to call on Rick for help, it came loose.

I hated having to ask Rick for help so often, but the arthritis in my fingers and carpal tunnel problems with my wrists cause difficulties with the simplest tasks. Daily my frustration grows as I witness different parts of my body getting weaker and sometimes even breaking down. These days I can’t even get down onto the floor or up again without great pain and difficulty because of my bad knees.

Why do things have to be this way? I silently ask God, but I already know the answer: “Trust Me, child, I’m always here to take care of you.”

What would we do without the promises of such a loving God who faithfully guides us through the trials of life? He knows everything about us, which means He understands our limitations. He has intimate knowledge about how much we hurt and He is always with us to comfort our painful and grieving body and spirit. He holds us close to His heart in His ever-powerful hands.

I know my God takes care of me—I believe this without a shadow of doubt. I guess my real problems start when I focus on my problems instead of on God. He realizes my pain and frustration and provides the best comfort possible through His Word. How often I have been in despair and found in Scripture the very words I needed to calm my heart.

Imagine the strength in God’s hands. Now picture those same hands pulling you close in a calm and comforting embrace. His strength is our strength and can get us through those frustrating times when nothing seems to go right.

Beloved, our times are in God’s hands because everything in our lives is under His control.

Sunday #Praise and #Worship: Lord, I Need You

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Life is admittedly tough. Just when you think things are going smoothly, something suddenly happens that threatens to shake our faith. But those of us who have placed our trust in our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ have the power of His Word to hang onto. In the pages of the Bible are many words of power, comfort, peace, faith and truth.

No matter what’s happening in our lives, let’s not forget that our ultimate hope and JOY is in our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ and no one or nothing else. The song “Lord, I Need You” sung by Matt Maher has been running through my mind lately, especially when I’m struggling with life in my little corner of the world.

As you listen to this song, ponder the words of comfort and peace Jesus speaks to His disciples:

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you;
not as the world gives do I give to you.
Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

—John 14:27

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If for whatever reason you cannot view this video, you can read the complete lyrics here.

Heads Roll

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Heads Roll

By Patricia Knight

“The Lord your God is with you,
He is mighty to save,
He will take great delight in you,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing”
(Zephaniah 3:17).

When I was a little girl, playing with my dolls was a favorite pastime.  Imagine the trauma I suffered when my doll’s head fell off!  My Daddy always seemed to be able to pop that doll’s head right back onto her shoulders again. I would go running to greet him at the end of his workday, hanging onto the two doll parts. He instinctively knew what would make a little girl’s heart happy, performing repairable doll surgery right before my eyes.

One day the three of us siblings were causing a loud verbal commotion. Our mother announced in measured tones, “I have a headache and if you children don’t quiet down, my head is going to fall off.” Instantly, I envisioned a frightening mind picture of my mother’s head detached from her shoulders. So I was quick to assure her, “That’s all right, Mommy, Daddy will put your head back on when he gets home tonight.” I remember confusion reigned when she broke into peals of laughter. This was not funny at all to me, but if she found humor in my remarks, maybe her headache would go away and we wouldn’t have to witness her head helplessly rolling off her shoulders.

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Lessons the broken doll taught me prepared me for tragedies that would strike in my future lifetime, directing me where to turn for relief. Trusting God as the Source of all my help is the ultimate relationship the heavenly Father wants all of us to enjoy with Him. He is the one “who comforts us in all our troubles” (2 Corinthians 1:4). That is the knowledge we need to navigate this world and its trials. There is no problem too difficult for my Lord to solve.

Job was a broken man but not defeated. He was declared “blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil (Job 1:1b). One day, he suddenly lost all of his wealth, family, and possessions. He was struck with a rare skin disease of overwhelming proportions. However, he persisted in trusting God. Job knew, that “nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). He was not into the mode of blaming God for his calamities. Job rationalized his steadfast hope: “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”(Job 2:10). Job decided to choose victory, as God promised. He took the high road of deep faith that would not shatter during a personal crisis.

I didn’t understand how my Daddy fixed my doll, but I trusted that he would. More importantly, he took responsibility for his little girl’s happiness. Isn’t this the reaction God wants from us, that we trust Him for our happiness? God loves us and wants us to put our confidence in Him as the Source for all our help and protection.

Jesus taught His disciples in parables, using common objects to convey a lesson to them. He will also find the best way to teach us His principles, even if it involves a toy.  Nothing escapes God’s service.

Sunday Praise and Worship: Praise You in This Storm

I should not be astonished when I see God’s hand in my life, but sometimes I am. Today’s Sunday Praise and Worship post is one of those times.

In case you have not read my recent post about my Dad going home to the Lord, you can read that here. I composed and scheduled today’s post several weeks ago, not knowing that it would be so appropriate for me and my family right now. I pray that God will use it in your lives today too.

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Life here on earth is full of storms, and I’m not just talking about the weather. So many of us are dealing with situations that can fill us with doubts about Who God really is. Does He know what I’m going through? And if so, does He even care?

Beloved, God fully realizes what is going on in our lives. More importantly, He wants us to come to Him during these times of stress, pain and uncertainty. If we are His redeemed children, we can grab onto His faithfulness in helping us through the tough times.

When we praise God through the storms of our lives, we are telling Him that we trust Him completely—whether things are going well or are absolutely devastating.

While  you listen to Casting Crowns singing “Praise You in This Storm,” lift up your hands and hearts to “praise the God who gives and takes away.” Remember that He is the God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3-5) and is available 24/7 to listen to the cries of our hearts.

And I’ll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
And every tear I’ve cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

If for whatever reason you cannot view this video, you can read the complete lyrics here.

Let’s Reach Out with the Gospel to Women Victimized by Abortion

One of the great devotionals I receive daily via email is from Randy Alcorn’s Eternal Perspective Ministries blog. Amid all the disgusting information uncovered in the videos that reveal how Planned Parenthood has been selling body parts from aborted babies, we have neglected an important fact. There is a huge population of women who are mourning the loss of these babies. I’m sure all this news and the videos being splashed abundantly around the internet are dredging up horrific memories.

Randy Alcorn’s article is an excellent reminder that we need to keep these women in prayer and reach out to them with the Gospel message.

Let’s Reach Out with the Gospel
to Women Victimized by Abortion

by Randy Alcorn

Millions of women and men, both in society as a whole and in our churches, are suffering under the guilt of abortion. The heavy emotional burden of abortion isn’t limited to those who’ve had one. A schoolteacher in her forties said, “Advising my daughter to have an abortion led me into a long, suicidal siege. I’m not over it yet.” [i] (Another group of people affected are those who work in abortion clinics. Check out this article,“Mugged by Ultrasound,”about why so many abortion workers have turned prolife. Wow. Also, see Justin Taylor’s blog for the sixth video released about Planned Parenthood.)

I encourage you to read through the following perspectives from Diane Meyer, a close friend of ours. In fact, she’s like a third daughter to me and Nanci. She lived with us when our daughters were small and she was a young unwed mother. We had the joy of seeing her come to Christ, and helped her place a baby for adoption.  (Just this last year she was reunited with her 33-year-old son and it was our privilege to be there with Diane’s family and the adoptive parents.)

Read the rest here.

Shared by permission of Randy Alcorn, Eternal Perspective Ministries, 39085 Pioneer Blvd., Suite 206, Sandy, OR 97055, 503-668-5200, www.epm.org

 

Raining Blessings

This is another devotional from Streams in the DesertIt made my eyes leak. 

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God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.
—Genesis 41:52

A poet stands by the window watching a summer shower. It is a fierce downpour, beating and pounding the earth. But the poet, in his mind’s eye, sees more than a rain shower falling. He sees a myriad of lovely flowers raining down, soon breaking forth from the freshly watered earth, and filling it with their matchless beauty and fragrance. And so he sings:

It isn’t raining again to me —it’s raining daffodils;
In every dripping drop I see wildflowers upon the hills.
A cloud of gray engulfs the day, and overwhelms the town;
It isn’t raining rain to me—it’s raining roses down.

Perhaps you are undergoing some trial as God’s child, and you are saying to Him, “O God, it is raining very hard on me tonight, and this test seems beyond my power to endure. Disappointments are pouring in, washing away and utterly defeating my chosen plans. My trembling heart is grieved and is cowering at the intensity of my suffering. Surely the rains of affliction are beating down upon my soul.”

Dear friend, you are completely mistaken. God is not raining rain on you—He is raining blessings. If you will only believe your Father’s Word, you will realize that springing up beneath the pounding rain are spiritual flowers. And they are more beautiful and fragrant than those that ever grew before in your stormless and suffering-free life.

You can see the rain, but can you also see the flowers? You are suffering through these tests, but know that God sees sweet flowers of faith springing up in your life beneath these very trials. You try to escape the pain, yet God sees tender compassion for other sufferers finding birth in your soul. Your heart winces at the pain of heavy grief, but God sees the sorrow deepening and enriching your life.

No, my friend, it is not raining afflictions on you. It is raining tenderness, love, compassion, patience, and a thousand other flowers and fruits of the blessed Holy Spirit. And they are bringing to your life spiritual enrichment that all the prosperity and ease of this world could ever produce in your innermost being.  —J.M.M

Songs across the Storm

A harp stood in the calm, still air,
Where showers of sunshine washed a thousand fragrant blooms;

A traveler bowed with loads of care
Struggled from morning till the dusk of evening glooms
To strum sweet sounds from the songless strings;

The pilgrim strives in vain with each unanswering chord,
Until the tempest’s thunder sings,
And, moving on the storm, the fingers of the Lord
A wondrous melody awakes;

And though the battling winds their soldier deeds perform,
Their trumpet-sound brave music makes

While God’s assuring voice sings love across the storm.

So Do Not Fear

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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.
—Isaiah 41:10

When I was a little girl, I was deathly afraid of dogs because one day a large dog chased me home from the corner store. I remember my terror while running with that dog right on my heels. I glanced back once to see his huge jaws open and those sharp teeth exposed.

As I got closer to home, I began yelling for my Mom to open the front door. I don’t know that she heard my words but she definitely heard me calling for her and was at the front door when I appeared. I darted past her and she quickly slammed the door shut.

Several years later, I started taking piano lessons from a woman who had the cutest little dog. Although the dog was cute, it was still a dog and I was as frightened of that little thing as I had been of the big dog who chased me home. My piano teacher couldn’t figure out why I was so afraid of her dog until I told her what had happened with that other dog. Once she understood my fright, she made it a point after every lesson to bring her dog over so I could get used to it. Several months later, I finally felt comfortable with her dog and learned to enjoy her sweet little face and cute ways.

As an adult, until a few years ago there was always a furry canine friend or two in my life and I know what it is like to feel the love and trust of these special creatures.

God works in our lives to alleviate our fears much like my piano teacher did. She would take my hand, place it gently on her dog’s back, and together we stroked that soft fur. Eventually I got up the nerve to pat the dog myself—first her back, then her head and finally I trusted her enough to let her lick my hand.

Beloved, God guides us through times of fear and uncertainty by slowly but surely filling us with the confidence that only He can give. You can always count on Him to keep a firm hold of your hand to carry you through those fearful times because He promised to do so.

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Valley of Vision

This wonderful devotional was written by Joni Eareckson Tada and included in her Pearls of Great Price book. Joni has always been an inspiration to me, and I hope you are touched by this as much as I am.

Valley of Vision

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Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baca,
they make it a place of springs;
the autumn rains also cover it with pools. 

—Psalm 84:5-6

In the days of the conquest of Canaan, the Valley of Baca was known as a dry, waterless place where only balsam trees could grow. Some have called it “a place of weeping.” However, when we trust God during dry, parched times, we can turn our valley of weeping into a refreshing “place of springs.” 

My favorite Puritan prayer about valleys has seen me through many a dry place in my spiritual journey:

Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly, Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision… Let me learn by paradox that the way down is the way up, that to be low is to be high, that the broken heart is the healed heart, that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit, that the repenting soul is the victorious soul, that to have nothing is to possess all, that to bear the cross is to wear the crown, that to give is to receive, that the valley is the place of vision. Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells, and the deeper the wells the brighter thy stars shine; Let me find Thy light in my darkness, Thy life in my death, Thy joy in my sorrow, Thy grace in my sin, Thy riches in my poverty,Thy glory in my valley.[1]

Psalm 23:4 says, “… though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” We fear no harm in the valley because death can only cast its shadow on us. Evil has no grip on us. Truly, we find God’s brightest glory in our darkest valleys. 

Lord, You are the Great Shepherd who leads me through every dark valley. I trust You to turn my valley of weeping into a place of refreshment and encouragement.

www.joniandfriends.org

[1] Arthur Bennett, The Valley of Vision… A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions, The Banner of Truth Trust, Pennsylvania, PA, 1997, Preface.

Copyright © 2006. Pearls of Great Price by Joni Eareckson Tada. Published in print by Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan

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Prayer When I’m Overwhelmed

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Many of us are struggling with so much these days. Health problems. Financial troubles. Maybe the need of a job or a place to live. Perhaps our children are not living as they ought to be. Or it may be that we have no idea where our next meal will come from.

I hope you will be blessed by this devotional that I wrote for the anthology titled Anytime Prayers for Everyday People. This particular devotional was included in the section titled Prayers of Supplication.  

When I’m overwhelmed by cares . . .

I will relieve your shoulder of its burden;
I will free your hands from their heavy tasks. 
—Psalm 81:6 NLT

 

When the cares of my heart are many,
thy consolations cheer my soul. 

—Psalm 94:19 RSV

 

Cast your cares on the LORD 
and he will sustain you. 
—Psalm 55:22

 

The LORD lifts the burdens of those bent beneath their loads. 
—Psalm 146:8 NLT

 

Let him have all your worries and cares, for he is 
always thinking about you and watching everything
that concerns you. 

—1 Peter 5:7 TLB

 

. . . I will pray.

Precious Lord,

From my window, I see children playing in the yard next door, soaking up the warm air and bright sunshine. I still remember those carefree childhood days, filled with simple pleasures—but that seems so far away now. Instead I feel as though I’m buried under a flood of cares: bills to pay, personality conflicts at work, family disagreements.

My life seems to be buried under an avalanche of responsibilities to be met and problems to be solved. My cares cover me like a cloak, blocking the sunshine from my dreary heart.

Help me lift my head, Lord. Fill me up with Your Spirit. Help me to throw off my cloak of sadness and let in the sunshine of Your love.

As an act of faith, I close my eyes and reach out to You—the Giver and Sustainer of life. I release my cares to You, one by one, piling them high at Your feet. The disappointment at work, the unexpected car repair, my aching joints, and on and on and on . . . until every burden is transferred from my shoulders to Yours.

Thank You for being my Burden-Bearer.

Amen.

Tell God all that is in your heart,
as one unloads one’s heart, 
its pleasures and pains, to a dear friend. 
Tell Him your troubles, that He may comfort you. 
—Francois Fenelon

 [From Anytime Prayers for Everyday People. Copyright © 2006 Bordon-Winters LLC]

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