In the first two weeks of the pandemic, Covid-19, it was heartbreaking to see senior citizens in person and in viral pictures standing in front of empty shelves in grocery stores. Later, stores set a special shopping time exclusively for seniors, they were also given priority at other times. The shelves got back full in a couple of weeks except for toilet paper. It took a while but toilets papers too became available. During those days, I was telling my family that we didn't need to panic and buy more than what we needed; others needed the items as much as we did. We need to face such problems as a society not just as a family. For many of us who profess to be followers of Christ, the crisis was a test of faith.
1. We shouldn't panic if we truly believe that God is our provider. We can actually be a source of hope and strength to others. Even when it comes to dealing with the virus itself, we need to follow precautions but our main concern should actually be protecting others. "Love one another deeply as brothers and sisters. Take the lead in honoring one another (Romans 12: 10).
2. There is a fine line between planning ahead and hoarding. It is good to plan ahead but we need to be considerate. The rule of thumb is that we always need to keep others in mind. "So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets" (Matt 7:12 ASV). If you have good enough for several months while your senior neighbor or church member is suffering, that is not prudence or foresight. It is certainly not something to brag about as a wise decision. Where does our safety coming from? Our "help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth" (Psalm 121:2 NIV).
3. The command of Christ, "Love Your Neighbor Like Yourself" includes caring for society. If a senior returns home empty-handed because I bought more than what I needed, I have failed to keep the commandments.
4. If one thinks this whole thing is happening because of the sin in this world, the right thing to do is to pray like Daniel in the Bible (Daniel 9). Daniel prayed for his own sin and the the sin of his people. Scaring people that this is the beginning of God's punishment will most likely misrepresent the loving and merciful God. We need to seek for God's mercy first before we pass judgement on others. The last day message is mainly about the hope of the second coming. Love, not fear, is the visa for salvation.
5. This is not a disease that came only for sinners that we don't need to follow advices given by health professional. Righteous people don't think they are righteous to begin with. Plus, we know there were righteous people in the Bible like Job & Paul who got sick. Sickness is not necessarily the result of sin.
6. If you are a pastor of a church, you have so many things to worry about because of COVID-19. It is time to do some soul-searching. Which one is bothering you the most?
a. There may be some members out there without any social support with no means to go out and buy things for themselves.
b. People may be in needs of hearing some comforting words from the Bible. And you are trying to figure out what technology to use to reach out to them.
c. You may be worried that people may be enjoying not coming to your church. And they may get used to not coming to church. This is most likely true if they used to sleep when you preach.
d. No more offering and tithe and you are worried about your own job (salary).
It is time to check on your true motive in the ministry.
7. Believers should never confuse presumption for faith. To think a disease will not come near you and you don't need to take preventive measures is not faith. It is presumption. It is not a test of faith; it is testing God. When the devil tempted Christ by asking him to throw Himself from the top of a temple, His answer was "It is said: Do not test the Lord your God." Luke 4:19.
8. I understand that not everyone who went out and bought in bulk was a covidiot. The first to hoard were those who saw this crisis as an advantage to make money. Their aim was to create a shortage and sell the products back on e-bay with an exaggerated price. The second group was the panic-buyers. They truly thought there was going to be a shortage and bought in bulk. Some redeemed themselves by sharing what they bought in bulk.
As I was writing this article, my wife, who is a nurse, informed me that they had 11 COVID-19 patients in their hospital. I know we will have to do some precautions at home to stay safe, but there is no panic button at home. We will stay cautions but hopeful. It is actually a blessing to take part in saving lives. We do our part and leave the rest to happen according to the will of God.
What was your experience during the loackdown? Did you experience the hand of God leading you?
What is your prayer as God's representative passign through this tragedy? What would you like ask God?