Power Over A Pandemic

Bible Book: Psalms  27 : 14
Subject: Coronavirus; Fear; Trouble; Hardship; Trials; Peace; Faith; Contentment

Power Over A Pandemic

Dr. J. Mike Minnix, Editor, www.pastorlife.com
Introduction

Psalm 27:14

“Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!”

Everybody has to wait. We wait in at traffic lights, we wait in grocery lines, we wait at fast food takeout windows … we wait all the time. When we are forced to wait we usually don’t like it. We fume at the traffic light delays and shift from one foot to the other in grocery lines. We are frustrated, angry and impatient beings. Yet, in the Bible, God tells us to wait when it comes to His working in our lives and in the lives of those we love. Our problem is usually that we can’t see that God works in the waiting time as well as in the working time!

I was driving recently and was a bit late for my appointment when I came to an intersection and was really hoping to get through it without having to stop, especially since the wait at that light was usually very long. The light turned red just as I got there and thus I had to stop. I sat there thumping my fingers in the steering wheel, waiting for the light to turn green. Just then God spoke to my heart to remind me that He knows where I am and He knows what time it is. When the light turned green, I slowly moved forward rather than racing ahead in an attempt to get to my appointment on time. Just then, a car came through the red light from the other direction. He passed by at what appeared to be 45 to 50 miles per hour, just inches in front of my car. He slammed on brakes after he passed through the intersection, apparently realizing what he had done. Fortunately, no one was hurt. Had I sped forward when the light changed, I would not likely be here or I certainly wouldn’t be in the condition I’m in today.

Waiting is part of God’s plan for us, and often we cannot understand the reason why. Our waits are in His will but our awareness of the reason for the waits is unreasonable to us at the time. It is often only after the fact that we become aware that the Lord’s hand was upon our schedules all the time.

Right now we are going through something I have never seen in my many years of life. I have lived in a portion of nine decades but haven’t experienced anything quite life this Coronavirus Pandemic we are in today. It seems that the entire world has come to a halt – or at least a crawling pace. This kind of abrupt change to the velocity of living feels a bit weird – strange – odd! Our "hurry living" has become "sit still," and it doesn't feel like living ot many people. In fact, for some people it is causing mental and emotional distress. How are we as Christians to deal with these times?

It is important for us to use this opportunity to look for God’s will and to do God’s work. As God’s redeemed people we have the peace of God that passes all understanding – or at least we can have that. To be sure, we can discover new things about how we are to live and serve God effectively in every circumstance of life.

I want to share with you some ways that you can have God’s peace and carry out God’s plan in such a time as this. Our text today gives us some subtle but sure directions. How does God want us to wait in a dangerous, dreary and deadly time like this?

First, note that we are to …

I. Wait with our Patience Focused on the LORD

Most of us are in a hurry to get on with our lives at the speed and in the manner we had before this virus erupted on the scene. We just want this thing (this pandemic) over with so we can go back to the things we like to do – or the things we feel we need to do. To focus on the disruption in our lives is not what God desires from us.

We must not wait for the disease to end, but rather we are to wait on the One (the Lord) who can end it. When we focus on Him rather than the problem a wonderful peace comes over our hearts and minds. You see, God hasn’t changed. He still sits enthroned in heaven and He can use all things for good in the lives of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

I suppose no generation in history has ever had as much control over things that impact daily life as we do in this twenty-first century. Our ability to travel, stay in touch with each other, do business without leaving home, and obtain unlimited entertainment is a marvel of modern technology. Yet, we are not happy.

Even before the pandemic it was clear that homes were falling apart at an unprecedented rate, young people were committing suicide at higher numbers than ever in history, drugs were ravaging the lives of young and old alike. mental illness was rampant and our prisons were more crowded than at any time in the past. We have at our disposal all the things are forebearers dreamed of but were not happy.

God seeks to slow us down so that He can reveal to us the real meaning of life. Knowing Him, living in His will, being indwelled with His Spirit and sharing His love brings about the greatest measure of joy and success that one can ever know. I have noticed that since the pandemic has erupted more people are talking about God and turning to Him in prayer than any time I can remember. Perhaps – just perhaps – we are on the verge of a national or worldwide spiritual awakening.

It seems that every time something bad happens Americans, especially Americans,  turn to God. At the outbreak of the Gulf War in the early 1990s the church I pastored was filled with people praying and seeking God. Then, after the twin towers in New York City were destroyed by Islamic terrorists every pastor I talked to spoke of how every seat in their churches were filled with people. Yet, when the crisis was over the seats that were filled became empty again with a few weeks. It became apparent that many people were turning to God as a “tooth fairy” or a glorified “Santa Claus” - a kind of divine "rabbit's foot." People wanted God when they needed Him but turned their backs on Him the moment they felt safe again. Perhaps this time individuals will have to take a little more time to consider how quickly our world can change and how long that change can last. Some experts in government, finance, and education are saying that the world economy and international behavior will change forever because of the Coronavirus. I don’t know about that, but I do hope that it causes us in great numbers to turn to God with true hearts of devotion and faith - that is real change our world needs.

For those of us who know the Lord, we are to be patient and wait on Him. Listen again to what I said. We are to wait on HIM! We are not waiting for the pandemic to pass – we are waiting on the Lord, Himself.

 We are learning anew that even when we think have control in life we are actually depending on Him. There is only one true constant, everything else is on shaky ground, so focus on the Lord even when everything nailed down seems to be coming loose. The Lord is the only rock that will not roll.

Secondly, we are to …

II. Wait with the Power of Good Courage in the Lord

The words "good courage" used in our text today must be explained. In the text these two words come from a single Hebrew word. In Hebrew this one word is “chazaq” and it is used several times in the Old Testament. It is a very interesting word, indeed. It means to “take hold of” or to “make firm.” It has at its root the idea of  becoming strong, rigid, and secure.

When trouble comes, believers are to “fix” themselves in the strength of the Lord. It is not a matter of how well I can handle something, but rather it concerns how well I can trust God to handle anything that arises. I must have a "fixed courage" that doesn't waver.

The word used in this text for “good courage” is a verb – it requires action – and it calls for a continuing action. I must “lay hold” of the Lord and His promises and I must be “fixed” in that position. If I do, I shall not be moved by adversity (Psalm 10:6).

In this time of the unknown, when fear and foreboding are in the very air we breathe, the Christian is to lay hold of that which has already laid hold of him. God has you in His hand, so grasp the hand that holds you. The Bible is telling us to ‘hold on’ tight to the Lord. When we do, the passage found in Romans 8:28 becomes a reality – we know He is going to do something amazing out of something that appears awful.

Let me remind you of how awful things looked on Friday when Jesus was crucified – but Sunday was coming! Have “good courage” and a peace will be yours in full measure.

But, then note one more thing in Psalm 27:14 …

III. Wait with the Promise of a Strengthened Heart from the Lord

In Psalm 27:13, just one verse prior to the one we are considering today, David wrote that he would have fainted had not believed in the goodness of the Lord. The verse actually reads like this:

“I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
That I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.”

This verse of scripture tells us how David came to the point to give the challenge for believers to  be of “good courage” – to “lay hold of God with a firm grip.” David admitted that had he lacked the faith to know that God had plans to bless and not to curse, plans to uplift and not to destroy and plans to share goodness and not judgment, he would have fainted – he would have lost his grip.

There are those who question every incident of suffering by questioning the goodness of God. Actually, the opposite thought ought to occupy our hearts and minds. Why does a holy God bless an unholy people? When I look at my life and that of those I know, I wonder why God even bothers with us. He does so because He is a God of love and grace. He sent His only Son to die in our place that we might overcome this world and have everlasting life. David knew that God was a God of blessing and goodness. Had he not believed that, his heart would have failed him.

If you want your heart strengthened, know and maintain a faith in the fact that God will bless our lives in the land of the living. When you do that, it will strengthen your heart. His promises will uplift your spirit, firm up your mind and cause you to rise above the doubt and fears griping the world.

This pandemic has created a time of confusion, worry and fear, but trust the goodness of God even when you can’t see His goodness in your immediate circumstances – after all, that is what faith is – trusting God even when you can’t understand or explain a situation you are facing. And, always remember. God HONORS FAITH.

Conclusion

Now, how can I increase my trust in the Lord? Has God been good to you in the past? Has He taken you through things that seemed overwhelming? You know the answer is yes, so now is the time to believe that He will do it again.

Stop right now and rehearse (perhaps even write down) as many amazing things as you can remember that God has done for you and the ones you love. I mean it – do it! Recall God’s goodness toward you. As you remind your heart and mind of the goodness of God in your life and in the lives of those you love, your heart will gain strength. When I think of all He has done for me, I cannot help but trust Him in the face of this deadly virus.

Turn your attention from the problem to the problem-solver! If I look at the problem, I will tremble. If I look at the Lord who has blessed me all these years, I will rest and rejoice in peace – and that is what I pray for all of us who know the Lord to experience. And, for those who have left God out of your lives, now is the perfect time to turn to Jesus Christ and trust Him to be your Lord and Savior.