Of all the directives we have received formally from local and federal government sources and “recommendations” from social pundits over the last week concerning COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus, one that seems to have gained the most popularity outside of washing our hands is social distancing.
The idea of isolation has been touted as the most effective strategy to help stem the tide of the spread of the coronavirus. But with self-isolation comes many questions. What will I do with my time? Where do I turn for engagement? For believers, these questions should lead us to an even more important question. What does this mean for us spiritually? Though we need to distance ourselves socially, this is a wake-up call for Christians to draw nearer to God spiritually.
In a society that is constantly on the move, we’ve slowed down to a pace that’s never been seen by many in our lifetime. Even though our normal routines have been abruptly interrupted, what has developed is a golden opportunity to seek God more than ever before. Throughout Scripture — in the Old and New Testaments — we are admonished to seek the Lord. In James 4:8, we’re told to draw near to God, and He will draw near to us.
This is a time to hear from God. This is a time to be a light. This is a time to activate our faith over fear. This is a time to draw nearer to God. Throughout life, we’ve all faced uncomfortable moments that show us what we’re really made of. Well, this is a challenging and uncomfortable moment for the world. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King put it so succinctly: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in the moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of controversy and challenge.”
Believers in Christ, this is our time to stand for Christ, to show the world what it looks like to live out Isaiah 41:10. “Fear not, For I am with you: be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will uphold you with my righteous hand.”
The God of the Bible thrives in challenging moments. Like the news all around us today, the people of God heard, as the NLT version puts it, terrifying news (2 Chronicles 20). The response of their leaders and community was to turn to God and seek Him for guidance. The guidance produced boldness, the boldness produced action, and the action produced an opportunity for God to show up and move in their situation.
As we draw nearer to God in these challenging times, what will be produced?
My challenge to ALL, especially those who journal, is to take out your pens and write down what God is saying to you. Allow God to speak to you. For pastors and ministry leaders who can’t physically meet with your congregations and teams, pray for unique ways to communicate the Gospel.
In these turbulent times, we must heed the call to social distancing. But it’s also just as important to practice the opposite spiritually.
Rev. Tim Latiff is the National Director of the CURE Clergy Network.
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