Today we are looking at something that doesn’t make sense. There’s a lot of that around today! As you know,
- The coronavirus (Covid-19) is spreading
- Stock market has been dropping like a rock
- People are panicking
- Airlines have stopped most flights and stood down thousands of people.
- Restaurants are empty and closing.
So what should we do?
- Say “She’ll be right mate” and go on with life as usual? OR
- Buy extra hand sanitizers and toilet paper, hide inside, and prepare for end of world?
I don’t pretend to be an expert – I honestly don’t know where this is going to go. Using my gift of prophecy, I can say without a doubt… It may get worse or it may get better. (that’s the extent of my ability)
But I’ll try to look into this from a different perspective. A perspective you are not likely to hear on the News or on Facebook.
We were recently due to fly Korean Air into Israel for the trip of a lifetime. We turned up at the airport at 7 in the morning and on the way to the check-in we were met by a Korean bloke in a suit who wanted to know where we were going. We told him “Seoul.” But when he asked “and then where” we said “Israel.” He replied “Then you should book with someone else. We had a flight turned back yesterday because of the virus.”
So, I know about confusion & panic from Coronavirus. What made our predicament worse was that we were due to meet some people who had put a significant amount of time and effort into planning this trip. They’d booked the hotels and the tour bus to take us around. So my first thought was – what happens if we don’t turn up?
I tried ringing the help line for the travel agent, but they were so busy they hung up on me. I began to look for other flights on my phone. By this stage I was a bit frustrated and concerned.
Then someone pointed out the travel agency at the airport. It was a branch of the agency we had booked through. So, we spent the next few hours at the travel agents desk trying to make other arrangements. In the end we made it – a day late, but we were still there before the others. And we went to Zurich on the way and got our fill of Swiss chocolates.
As you know today, not only flights are cancelled but…
- Many sporting events, conferences, concerts are cancelled…
- Some schools shutting down. Nearly all have cancelled assemblies and gatherings.
- Travel bans are in place and seem to be getting more serious every day.
- People are being stood down all over the place.
- And the worst thing…. Grocery stores are out of toilet paper…
What are we going to do? Should we ignore it – or stockpile pasta / potatoes / paper towels and stay home next 6 months?
I think it’s wise to say “don’t make any long term or permanent decisions today! Things will change”. A couple of weeks ago we could meet in groups of 500. Last week it was 100. Today it not meet at all! Things change and change rapidly.
So, in times of crisis and panic, unless you have the gift of prophecy that’s better than mine, It’s best not to project out into the future. It’s always best to make wise decisions based on what we know today.
But the question is “does God have anything to say to people who are confused and feeling overwhelmed? Does God actually care?”
The Bible says there are people living amongst us who are different. It says they see things from a different perspective. They are determined to Not to be conformed this world and they Do not live like those who have no hope!
THERE IS A WAY THEY ARE NOT LIKE THIS WORLD
They live by faith, not by fear.
Jesus was comforting his disciples in John 14…. “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. John 14:1
He was telling them this because he knew what was ahead. He knew in a few days’ time they would see him crucified. They would think the one who seemed to promise them the world has gone. All their hopes would be dashed. They would think the Jesus they trusted has let them down and it didn’t turn out the way they expected. He knew they would feel a lot like many people today. Confused. Frightened. Wondering what was coming next. Of course, they knew if the government had crucified their leader, they would probably be next.
And yet Jesus said Don’t let your heart be troubled. You believe in God believe also in me. Don’t let your heart be troubled. That means for some people it is possible to choose to not be troubled – but how can you do that?
When things are in turmoil, if you look carefully at the quote you will see Jesus said it was all about belief in Him. It’s not based on the money in the bank or the stockmarket, or your employer. or your family you can rely on. It’s based in Him. And He proved a few days later He had the power to overcome our greatest enemy – death.
I doubt that God’s is sitting heaven thinking “Wow – I didn’t see this virus coming.” He was not surprised when the first person fell ill. He was not surprised when the first person died of this virus. He knew it was coming. He knew what its effect would be., He knows whether you or I will catch the virus because we know…
- He’s actually in control!
- He is good! Our God has a plan! And it’s a plan for our good.
- He won’t leave us. He won’t forsake us.
- He’s working in all things for our good…
So it seems that we have no need to panic – we can have peace if we believe in Jesus. That’s all you seem to need. To believe in Him.
Paul added something else though. He once wrote to a church – Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. Phil 2:3-4
During the early church, they faced extreme persecution – some even, from Paul himself. These people died because they believed in Jesus. Some lost their life for their faith! And how did they react?
The first Christians didn’t hoard their goods! They weren’t rushing the Jerusalem mega-mart to grab emergency supplies! They put others ahead of ourselves!
Acts 2 says All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts… Acts 2:44-46
These believers were under pressure BUT every day they continued to meet… They joined together like a family every day. And they did that for each other and for those who were living in their communities.
Now you are smart people – mostly. You read Retiredblokes.com so that says something!! Of course, if you don’t feel well, stay home – there’s plenty of online services or helpful things to watch. (Just don’t waste your life on rubbish. Find something that will add positively to your life. Something that will push you in the right direction.) But if you’re feeling OK then gather with another family. That way you will keep yourself accountable and have friendship which you desperately need. Of course even if the government tells you not to meet with others you can ring them. You can FaceTime or Skype them. Whatever you do, dont cut yourself off and pretend you’re OK on your own. You need other people and they need you.
So, we can live by faith – Not by fear – We can be sacrificial – Not selfish.
During this time, people are afraid… unsettled… anxious… You never know, you may be the exact person to bring the right word of encouragement to someone. You might just be the right person to make a difference in someone else’s life.
This virus may be highly contagious! But I’m hoping for some of you to be even more contagious in the positive things you do for others. In the extent you put yourself out for the sake of others. To the extent you may encourage someone with the right words. Do you know someone who has locked themselves away? Maybe you can be the one spreading hope – spreading love – spreading real life and joy to them! So don’t just sit there. Ring someone.