Last weekend I participated in a prayer initiative called Porch Light Prayers.
In compliance with the quarantine and social distancing, people gathered, but stayed in their cars. Four caravans drove designated “prayer routes” charted on Google Maps, which when linked together cover all the perimeter of Clinton County.
The concept was that the caravans would circle Clinton County, praying for the inhabitants and for protection of essential job workers. I think it was successful. Most prayed with their eyes open (thankfully all of the drivers did), and God was honored and participants encouraged.
While the vehicles were gathering, someone wearing a mask came by and said, “Hello Dave”. A mask covered most of her face, and I couldn’t tell for sure who she was.
I gave a hearty, “How are you?”, with a warm air hug in reply, and she went on her way. When your countenance is covered by a mask, others can’t identify who you are or figure out what you’re up to.
I think the reason for the pandemic is like that: Masked. Who knows why it’s happening?
Some suggest it is linked to global warming, the result of our not taking care of the planet God gave us. Some think this is the devil’s work, using COVID-19 as an instrument of chaos and destruction.
Others, that this is God’s judgment, or perhaps a plague, or a warning that the end is near and so now is the time to stock up on toilet paper.
(Let’s face it, if Armageddon is as the Bible describes, and I think it is, many of us will definitely need extra T.P. I’m just sayin’.)
Myself, I lean towards realism. I’m not quite Dragnet’s, “Just the facts ma’am”, but definitely don’t hyper-spiritualize things either. I can tell you exactly why this virus grew so rapidly and spread across the globe seemingly overnight.
Are you ready?
It’s because it’s really contagious. There, I said it.
The “experts” (and seemingly everyone is one these days) say the virus is “zoonotic”, meaning it can transfer from animals to humans. It likely originated in bats, spread to another animal (the intermediate host), before being transferred to humans in Wuhan, China.
Then it spread. The world is so interconnected with people everywhere traveling everywhere, that the virus voyaged the planet on its human hosts at Mach Corona-19 speed.
May I unmask the pandemic from a long range, eternal perspective? God is fully aware of it, is fully committed to comfort those touched by it, and fully engaged in its eradication. Whether God caused it or not can be argued without resolution until His kingdom comes.
But regardless of whether the virus originated from the devil or a Wuhan bat, we can have confidence that God cares deeply for us and is calling people to know His love.
That’s the bottom line.
In the Old Testament, God tells the prophet Jeremiah this:
“And I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good for them. I will put a desire in their hearts to worship me, and they will never leave me. I will find joy doing good for them and will faithfully and wholeheartedly replant them in this land.” (Jeremiah 32:40,41 NLT)
God is preparing to replant us on the other side of the pandemic. A new normal is in gestation for us that will be different, but good.
In this new land, we will appreciate our freedoms more; take our families for granted less; exhibit more patience, understanding, and grace; and better acknowledge the value of helping others. And some who have been looking at God with arms folded, will open their hearts and receive His acceptance and forgiveness.
When the COVID-19 mask is removed, we will find a new normal birthed that is better than before.
Dave Hinman is Pastoral Elder at Dove Church Wilmington.