Keith Waaraniemi with Jim Frantti and Eric Jurmu | The Voice of Zion April 2020 --
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a sobering effect on the entire world. During this pandemic, as in all times, we can say, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Ps. 46:1). We turn to God in prayer for ourselves and our communities. We pray for local authorities, national leaders and medical professionals. We don’t comprehend the challenges they face, but through their efforts we receive blessing and protection. They are ministers of God for our good (Rom. 13:4).
In North America, federal, state and provincial authorities have given us guidelines on how to slow the spread of the virus. Using their best judgment and available information, they recommend that gatherings be limited, both religious and otherwise. In accordance with these guidelines, LLC has taken unprecedented steps to address the situation. Please refer to News and Notes from LLC for further details.
The LLC recommends that all congregations follow the instructions of their local and national authorities. In these times, we may wonder how serious the pandemic actually is. We each have our own perception based on our own perspectives and the information we have received. History may someday tell the tale, but likely the answer will reside with God alone. At this time, we know that the virus spreads at an alarming rate and thousands of people have died. That is why heeding the advice of authorities is not only prudent, but absolutely essential. We pray and trust that God gives the appropriate officials the necessary wisdom to make necessary decisions.
Just as previous generations have faced overwhelming threats and have worked together in times of natural disasters, war and economic turmoil, let us each take responsibility to do our part to help slow the spread of the virus. Elders and those with underlying health conditions are especially vulnerable to the virus’ effects, but people of other ages are not exempt either. Human life is fragile for all of us.
The events of our daily lives have been significantly altered. School and university instruction is canceled and has shifted to online learning. Family life may feel fuller, at times overwhelming, without normal routines. Many businesses are temporarily closed, and some store shelves are empty. The full extent of this pandemic’s effect on our lives is yet unknown. Changes in employment may begin to cause financial concerns.
All of this can make the future feel more uncertain. We may be worried, anxious and doubting. In these times, let us trust in the message of God’s Word, which assures us that there is nothing new under the sun and nothing happens without God’s knowledge. Read Psalm 46:10 and Psalm 73:23–25; there the psalmists sing of God’s presence and blessing.
This pandemic reminds us of how much we need one another. Let us now, as always, remember how Jesus instructed us to love our neighbor and carry loved ones in prayer. We pray on behalf of those who are ill and those who care for the ill. We pray for those whose livelihood suffers as a result of economic upheaval. We pray for families and parents who are affected as schools close and routines are upended. We remember those who are alone, those who are suffering and need assistance. Let us comfort and instill hope in our children and youth who may feel distress in uncertainty.
Can we see a silver lining beyond this cloud of trial? God’s ways are above our ways. While we must limit social gatherings, this does not prevent us from hearing or meditating on God’s Word. Some congregations broadcast online services, and archived sermons take on a new importance. We cannot gather at services, and we feel a deep longing for believing fellowship. Yet the message and comfort of God’s Word still brings us peace, blessing, hope and joy. We have seen examples of online devotions, Sunday school and Bible class. God is at work in ways we could not have foreseen. May the message of the gospel also reach those who long to find peace of conscience, those that seek a gracious God.
In this time, God is granting us an opportunity to focus on our own households, our closest ones. We can be thankful for modern technology which allows us to stay in touch with friends and family. Let us uplift one another and care for one another and pray. Let us find God’s blessings amid the changes we experience. He has promised to give us hope and a future (Jer. 29:11).
Amid crisis, our heavenly Father reveals to us all that living faith and caring for our neighbor are the most important matters in our lives. May God give us continued forbearance and patience. We join with the words of the songwriter in song of Zion 382: “What God ordains is ever good.” God will never forsake us!