As I write this, cases of Coronavirus and associated deaths in the UK are on the rise, jobs are disappearing rapidly and lock down is likely to be for some period yet. So many people are asking what is going on and wondering how the future might look. It can all look quite frightening. A few weeks ago, before the whole world changed, I was preaching in my home church on “Hope in the Sovereign Lord” from Psalm 33. If you’re in need of some “hope”, feel free to have a listen to the sermon. As believers our hope is in God and him alone and we dare not put our hope in anyone or anything else! There is the message of hope in our dark world.
So what is going on in the world with the virus? What is the cause, are there any messages and what is the bigger picture we need to see?
Sadly we live in a fallen world, not the world that God created and we live under the curse of sin that has impacted every aspect of human existence. In Revelation 8 & 9 we see a picture of bad things that happen in this world time and time again – right through the gospel age, ranging from natural disasters to made-induced atrocities. All of these serve as a warning to the world and are allowed by God (not originated by him) to act as a warning and a prompt for people to turn to the Living God, “The rest of mankind who were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshipping demons and idols of gold, silver, bronze stone and wood – idols that cannot see or hear or walk. Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality and their thefts” Rev 9:20-21 NIV
There’s a lot of whacky stuff been written about Revelation, but the meaning seems pretty clear to me – these terrible things that we experience are a warning to humanity, with the key message to turn to God. Whilst they warn of final judgement, such events as Coronavirus are not “judgement” as such, rather warnings.
The Bible says, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” John 3:17 NIV. In these sad days, our message is that of hope to be found in God through Jesus Christ!
That’s exactly what is happening with our workers in Central Asia!!!
One lady went around her immediate neighbourhood, which is in semi-lockdown, and asked how people were getting on and whether she be of any help to them. Because it’s Central Asia and all they seem to do is drink tea, it was tea-time at every house. New opportunities to make and build relationships through which to share the Good News of Jesus – provided through the emerging tragedy that would not otherwise have existed.
Another lady living in one of the most dangerous cities in the world has chosen to stay. Lawlessness reigns, infrastructure constantly stretched, no medical support or backup, but a number of frightened workers linked to the NGO project who need someone to choose to stay with them and offer hope.
These stories are repeated many times over – pioneer, risk-taking workers on the frontline for the sake of the gospel, bringing hope to people. You may want to pray for their safety (that is one of my concerns as Director), but the New Testament emphasis is to pray for boldness to proclaim the truth under all circumstances, so please, please pray for opportunities and wisdom for our workers. How amazing it would be if lives are changed as a result of Coronavirus and people come to put their trust in God.
And how tragic it will be if, after all the pain we go through as a country, we come out the other end and nothing has changed.
Thanking you again so much for your support and prayers at this time!
In our Living Hope
Director, People International UK