Let me begin this WordBytes by thanking each of you for your feedback on the topics we have discussed during these weeks of sheltering in place (SIP). It has truly been a new experience for each of us as we try to adjust to the awkwardness of staying connected while far apart. Hopefully, we are learning more about who we are, our personal resiliency and about the tenderness God has for us as we “walk through the valley of death” (Ps. 23:4). While some may not share my view, I believe with God, we will successfully make it to the other side of COVID-19. The real question is, “what will be our testimony and our contribution on the other side?”
Pandemic and me
I have never personally experienced a pandemic of this magnitude—especially one that is claiming the extraordinary number of lives and decimating our world economy. I was four (4) years old when I became a victim of the polio epidemic of the 1950s. My mother often told me how many parents in our neighborhood would walk on the other side of the street from our house for fear that their children would also contract the disease.
But God protected my family. None of my siblings became infected by the disease and I’m here today to share my story. We too, will live to tell our individual stories about COVID-19 because I agree with the psalmist who wrote, “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the LORD. (Ps. 118:17, NKJ). Instead of declare, the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) phasing is “and recount the deeds of the Lord.” What will we recount on the other side of COVID-19?
There is a reason to recount our experiences especially during times of pain and struggle. As the children of Israel journeyed to the Promise Land, they often left memorials along the way. They did this to remember the mercies of God and to express their gratitude for God’s provision. Whether it was an altar (Ex. 17:15) or a stack of stones on the other side of the Jordan (Deut. 27:4-7), it was important that those who had experienced God’s provision and intervention declare those deeds to future generations. What memorials will we create on the other side of COVID-19 to declare the works of the Lord to future generations?
Throughout the biblical text, God has shown Himself to be a strong Deliverer. He rescued His people from all types and various forms of dangers; whether it was “the snare of the fowler or the noisome (deadly) pestilence.” (Ps. 91:3) God honored His covenants and kept all His promises.
Thus the LORD gave to Israel all the land that he swore to their ancestors that he would give them; and having taken possession of it, they settled there. And the LORD gave them rest on every side just as he had sworn to their ancestors; not one of all their enemies had withstood them, for the LORD had given all their enemies into their hands. Not one of all the good promises that the LORD had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass. (Joshua 21:43-45)
God expects right relations
Even in the administration of life in the Promise Land, God expected Israel to live in right relationship with others—even those who were subjugated through conquest by Israel. Consequently, systems were put in place to care for the needs of all people (Deut. 33). These systems were to emulate the same oversight God had extended to Israel. God’s love, grace, and mercy was evident from the day of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt to their final conquest of Canaan. How will we express God’s oversight for all people on the other side of COVID-19?
God will contend for us
God will bring us through this pandemic. HE will contend for us. It is His nature as our heavenly Father to provide for and to protect His children (Ps. 103:13; Matt. 6:26). As God made provisions to care for all the people in Canaan, on the other side of Egypt, He will do the same for our country. And who will be the conduit of God’s provision? It must be each of us. “As good stewards of the manifold blessings of Christ” (1 Pet. 4:10) let us prepare to serve on the other side of COVID-19.
As I read my paper and listen to the various news broadcasts, there is much being said about the current state of COVID-19 in our nation and in our cities. Living in these times feels surreal yet I know these times are very real—requiring “serious and watchful prayers” (1 Pet. 4:7).
Praying for the Other Side
Let us begin to pray TODAY over many areas that will need God’s love, grace, and mercy on the other side of COVID-19. Here is my short-list. Feel free to develop and share your list.
- Our children, our teachers, and our schools—they need a future.
- Our healthcare systems, our social systems, our justice systems—they need an advocate.
- Our communities, our families, and our parents—they need connection.
- The aged and the young—they need to be valued.
- The poor, the homeless and the disenfranchised—they need a voice.
Let us begin praying today for a better life for all, on the other side of COVID-19.