Pastoral Perspective for the Pandemic
However inadequate we may feel for the responsibility, it remains the task of servants like me to offer comfort and help from the Scriptures for their flocks under duress.
I pray these words might encourage the fainthearted and help the weak (1 Thess. 5:14)–and I count myself among them–in the hard providence that is COVID-19.
Here are six exhortations from the Scripture in hopes that Proverbs 24:10 may not indict us in this challenging season.
Behold Your God
I awoke this morning to snowfall. Welcome to Spring in Idaho!
The Lord reminded me of Psalm 147:16-17–who can stand before his cold?
He reminded me of Job 26:6-14–Coronavirus disease is but the outskirt of his ways.
He reminded me of Isaiah 45:7–he is the Lord who does all these things.
He reminded me of Job 2:10–in all these things Job did not sin with his lips.
And he reminded me of 1 Peter 5:6-7–casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
And so I ask you, dear saint, sheep of his pasture, how big is your God–even in the face of global calamity? “Does disaster come to a city, unless the Lord has done it (Amos 3:6)?”
Stand in awe of your sovereign God.
Strengthen Your Hand
Check out 1 Samuel 30:1-6. Take this text to the bank of your soul for fighting distress.
When hemmed in by seemingly insurmountable troubles, what did King David do?
He strengthened himself in the Lord his God.
Little flock, in these days when providence has robbed us of the regular means of grace which are corporate worship, the preached word, the Lord’s Table, and one-another community, perhaps more than ever we must press on to know the Lord (Hosea 6:3).
Read your Bible. Anchor your thoughts in texts like Luke 12:32.
Pray alone and with the members of your household. Trade time in anxiety for precious minutes of intercession in pursuit of God’s peace (Phil. 4:6-7).
Stream redemptive resources which abound on the internet.
Dear ones, move toward your God, not away from him.
Remember Your Examples
We have need of patience which forges in us the enviable virtue of steadfastness.
James 5:7-11 aims for this reality of genuine faith. “We consider those blessed who remained steadfast” (11).
Take your cue from the farmers, the prophets, Job, and the archetype of patient suffering reaping all its rewards, Jesus Christ (Heb. 5:7-10).
Read biographies. I highly commend John Piper’s 7-volume series The Swans Are Not Silent for readable, accessible, and profitable use of sheltered-in-place time.
Remember those who spoke the word to us and imitate their faith (Heb. 13:7).
Love Your Neighbor
Oh, how we need one another within the family of God and without (Gal. 6:10)!
Pray for one another. Text one another. Email one another. Call one another. Message one another.
And long for one another!
Do you not miss as I do taken-for-granted Sunday-together delights like warm embraces, robust hymn singing, earnest praying, hearing God’s word preached, feasting at the Lord’s Table, fellowshipping over lunch, and more?
It is a form of sharing in Jesus’s suffering to be deprived of such things. Identify with your persecuted brothers and sisters around the globe who regularly take their lives in their hands to enjoy such privileges (Heb. 13:3). They know better than we.
Consider Your Ways
Church, exploit, don’t waste, the severe mercy of a stay-at-home order. You have time to ponder and examine your ways which normal busyness wars against.
To whom or what do you turn for comfort in these challenging times?
“Little children, keep yourself from idols” (1 John 5:21). There are places on the internet you must not go. There are things on the TV you best not watch.
There are pursuits–good pursuits of which you are robbed for a season–that you may choose to pursue Mary’s better part (Luke 10:38-42).
Drink from the fountain of living waters, not broken wells that hold none (Jer. 2:12-13).
Temper Your Judgments
Resist the temptation to take God’s place on the throne. Jesus warned of this (Luke 13:1-5). God alone knows his ultimate purposes (Deut. 29:29). And he always judges perfectly. We do not.
The peoples of China, Italy, Spain, New York, Louisiana, California and other hard-hit COVID-19 hotspots have nothing on me as an offending sinner deserving judgment.
I, like Paul, am the worst (1 Tim. 1:15).
What to do? “Unless you repent, you will all like wise perish” (Luke 13:3-5).
Dear flock, examine yourself (2 Cor. 13:5). Believe the gospel again (1 Cor. 15:1-2). And hope in God–our refuge, strength, and very present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1).