It seems like overnight, the entire world has changed dramatically. An unseen, but deadly virus has killed tens of thousands of people. Cities & countries have been shuttered, business closed, millions sent to unemployment lines, schools are scrambling to move online & most churches as well. I wanted to share some quick thoughts to encourage & rally the people of God.
The pandemic the world is facing has not surprised God. He knew as we entered 2020, what we would be facing. Our God is sovereign over all. We can trust that God will and is using the crisis we are facing to bring all things together for good in His time. I can not help but think about the many testimonies we find in Scripture where the way out seemed impossible. May I remind, we serve the God of the impossible!
I am encouraged by the rallying cry of churches across America to unite together in the effort of prayer. I believe when we look back at this time in history one of the blessings we will observe is these times of prayer. Every day, Gods people are uniting in prayer. After all, the answer for this pandemic is not found at the White House, chemist labs or Governor’s mansions. The answer for today’s plague is found in our God reaching out in our day to give wisdom and clarity to our leaders, doctors and Scientist. He knows the answer. May Gods healing touch and amazing grace be felt.
I mourn for the thousands who have lost their lives and for the friends and families who were not able to join together at their bedside in the last moments of their life. I am saddened for those same loved ones, who were unable to hug each other at a normalized Memorial service. No words can soothe the heartache many are feeling today. When this pandemic passes, most will return to their normal way of life, but this time has been life changing for those who have lost loved ones to this virus.
My prayer is that our country and churches are prepared for the emotional and mental impact this crisis is having on our people. Some marriages are struggling, alcohol use is up 120% from a statistic I heard & abusive relationships highlight a pandemic that has plagued our society for many years. Let’s be ready to help our fellow Americans now and when this crisis passes. The lingering affects of this time will last a generation. In 20, 30 & 40 years, should the Lord tarry, we will look back at this time and challenge our grandchildren and great grandchildren to be prepared for such a calamity.
Let me encourage you to not allow this time to pass without a time of reflection. Assessing where you are in life, how you are doing in your walk with God and in the roles that God has for you is a wise use of this time. This is a Scriptural plan as Paul exhorted the church to have a time of examination. Assess your devotional time, participation in the church, relationship with your family & review your family finances. This is a good time to clean house, figuratively & literally.
This crisis has thrown every pastor & ministry into the whirlwind of uncertainty. I would say this, every pastor & ministry should do what is best for their churches as they move forward for the cause of Christ; whether that is exclusively online services, Drive in services or gathering together physically. I believe the right answer is dependent upon your location in the country, the dynamics of your ministry and frankly the demographics of your church. I will say this on behalf of pastors across America, the government does NOT care more for our congregations than we do. We serve side by side with our church members. We laugh and cry together, visit hospitals and mourn together. We go through the mountain tops and valleys. We love our churches. So, we as a church want to keep our people as safe as possible. Let’s be careful not to belittle decisions that men and ministries have made through times of prayer & agonizing over what is best for their churches. Further, lets extend some grace to those who have strong opinions on this topic. I have friends in all spectrum’s of opinion on this topic. I believe that is healthy to making a proper decision for our ministry. And I support the decisions they have made for their ministry.
Our political leaders from our President, to Governors, to local leaders are making decisions in unprecedented circumstances. I would remind our political leaders that the Constitution of the United States of America was written for times exactly like this. Let’s be careful that we don’t give up our liberties in the fog of this war. In America, the default is freedom & liberty. When it comes to the church, the Constitution is clear. The church has a Constitutionally protected status. That does not mean we ignore the guidance from the medical community. What it does mean is we, the church, are ESSENTIAL to our communities.
Further, the Constitutional rights of the church are preserved during a public health crisis. The Free exercise clause prohibits unequal treatment of religious individuals or organizations. Churches cannot be treated differently than drive-in restaurants or essential businesses. If liquor stores, abortion clinics, pot shops and big box stores can open in a safe manner, so can the church. In fact, I would argue that the church is and has been a cleaner environment than most public events or venues.
Many have asked my opinion on the way forward. My answer is simple. Reopen America! But do so as safely and carefully as possible. We have decimated our society. Millions have lost jobs, that may never return. And while, some of my friends and acquaintances have been affected by this terrible virus, many more are struggling because of job loses and economic devastation. There are many parts of America that have been virtually untouched by this virus. They should open today. They have been unnecessarily impacted. The loss of life and affect on Americans is not only found in those who have faced this virus. I have observed those with my own eyes who have had to forgo life sustaining medications because they do not have the money to pay for their medications. Reopening America comes with great risk, but I believe it must be done or we will be reopening Venezuela not America. No matter when we open, there will be an increase in cases. No matter when we open, there will be critics who point out a misstep. But for the future of our society we must reopen. So, work from home as long as you can. In public, make sure you follow social distancing guidelines and practice the needed hygiene to mitigate the risk. If you are sick, stay home. If you are uncomfortable, stay home.
Stay safe. This too shall pass!