Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "The Lord's My Shepherd"1 (Lyrics)
Our topsy-turvy world seems to be spinning — faster and faster — more out of control with each passing day, battling a seemingly unstoppable virus, with neither a vaccine to prevent it, nor a sure treatment to cure it. It is indeed a pandemic of worldwide proportions, and — just as during the plagues of Egypt — the effects reach from the highest to the lowest, from the throne to the prison. We are all at risk, from the strongest to the weakest, and no one is immune. Nationwide quarantines are major disruptions to everyday life, and a tumbling stock market elicits grave concern.
Like people everywhere, we Oregonians are under a "stay home, stay healthy" order. Many businesses are grinding to a halt, schools are closed, and church at home with the aid of the Internet is now our way of weekly worship. For many, this order is massively disruptive to daily life. As a retiree, I feel great sympathy for working families and children who are isolated at home. However, now that this enforced solitude has slowed down my normally busy life, I have time to tidy up my house and even expect to do some much-needed spring cleaning. I will also have time to read some of the many books that have long been gathering dust on my bookshelf. My phone, email, and texting will connect me with others at the touch of a finger. The newspaper, Internet, and evening news will keep me informed of everything that I need to know. My family is nearby in case of emergency.
Lest I simply squander away this rare opportunity, however, I need to set aside time for reading Scripture and praying. If I ever feel distanced and isolated from friends and family, there is no better antidote than to pray for them. It is in our time of greatest need that our faith grows the strongest. When we have no other recourse, our reliance upon God is greatest.
We may never understand why our world is in such upheaval at this particular time in history, or how long these chaotic events will go on, or where we can be safe. Thankfully, however, we do know that God is in control.
These words of St. Francis de Sales are of great comfort in our time of worldwide trouble:
- Do not look forward to what may happen tomorrow. The same eternal Father who takes care of you today will take care of you tomorrow, and every day of your life. Either He will shield you from suffering or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace then, and put aside all useless thoughts, all vain dreads and all anxious imaginations.
We can echo the prayer of King Jehoshaphat of Judah when a vast army was threatening to annihilate his people:
2 Chronicles 20:9,12b – If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you. (NIV)
Prayer: Our dear loving and protecting Father, our entire world is in a time of great distress, and we need Your help. Give our leaders and medical personnel guidance on how to stem the tide of this outbreak, and show each of us how to live wisely during this time. We ask for peaceful hearts and confident spirits, for You are in control of all things and will shield and protect Your children. Thank You for Your loving care. Amen.