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  • Writer's picturedave dyrud

Can we see God in the midst of a pandemic?

One month ago the President declared a state of emergency for the U.S. due to Covid-19. Cities and even whole states began issuing “Stay at home” orders, businesses closed, millions of people lost jobs, grocery store shelves were suddenly empty as people scrambled to get everything they might need for the time they’d be quarantined at home.

After the initial fear wore off, people seemed to settle into their routine with a sense of determination, making the best of a bad situation. Zoom, which only weeks ago meant to “go really fast,” had now become a household word describing people’s communication with others via video chat.

But something seems to be changing. The internet is getting overwhelmed, Zoom chats are dropping as the signal cuts in and out. People’s eyes are growing weary from long hours on the screen, people are beginning to project the long term damage to the economy and many are wondering if their former jobs will be available at all when the stay at home orders are lifted.

For the first time today, many of my conversations revealed a weariness in people not seen even a week ago. The changes, once doable, are now starting to break people down. Levels of frustration and anxiety can be heard in people’s voices and can be seen on their faces. People are now beginning to ask questions about how long this will last and how will I provide for my family if it goes on too long.

It appears we are settling into a new normal! One that will force us to rethink life and priorities as we move forward.

So where is God in all of this? Why is He allowing it to go on? Why does God allow it to go on when so many Christians around the globe are praying for it to end? I thought God answered prayers if we pray in faith?

Are you thinking about any of these questions? I am!

Would you allow me to share with you a thought from Scripture that God has put on my heart? It comes from Hebrews 12:27-28

“This means that all of creation will be shaken and removed, so that only unshakable things will remain.

Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping Him with holy fear and awe.”

Does it feel to you like the world is being shaken? It sure feels that way to me!

The writer of Hebrews is telling us that at times God allows the world to be shaken, not because He likes to see us in pain and not because He doesn’t care about us. It’s actually the exact opposite! He allows the world to be shaken so that…so that what can be shaken, those things that are not strong enough to be the foundation of our lives, will be removed…

…And when they are removed, only those things which are unshakable will remain!

Could it be that God is not stepping in to end this pandemic because there are shakeable things which we have allowed to be the foundations of our lives?

Could it be that as these things fall down and crumble before our eyes, God is reminding us of the ONLY thing that is unshakable, and that is Him?

Jesus said it this way in Matthew 7:24-27

“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”

Have we built our lives on beautiful sand which seems like a vacation destination at first, but provides no strength against the storms of life?

What if we, rather than panicking and giving in to the fear of the loss and change, spent time with God in honest reflection, asking Him to show each of us where we have built our lives on sand instead of on The Rock, which is Him? What if rather than grieving the loss of material things, the freedom to leave the house whenever we want and even our own health, what if we followed the encouragement of the writer of Hebrews when he said that because we are receiving a kingdom that is unshakable, let us BE THANKFUL and PLEASE GOD by WORSHIPING HIM with fear and awe?

When Jesus was teaching His small group of disciples what it looked like to live in His kingdom He told them to “to put as first priority the things of His kingdom and the values of His kingdom…and then He would provide for them the things they needed for daily living.” Matthew 6:33

What relevant instruction for today! Focusing on the things of this world right now can lead to unnecessary stress. As people feel more and more isolated as they are denied face to face interaction with family, friends and coworkers, anxiety and even depression is building in many.

But God has a solution, don’t look out at the world, at the things that are being shaken around you, look up to Him, the one who provides a foundation that cannot crumble.

As Tracy and I continue to trust God with ministry opportunities in the midst of the pandemic, He has opened many doors that weeks ago seemed closed.

Tracy is part of a ladies team which has been going into strip clubs on Thursday nights, taking dinner to the dancers and demonstrating God’s love to them within a pretty dark place. The girls always appreciated the dinner and even had good conversations with Tracy and other ladies from the team. But they always stopped short of stepping out of club life to pursue a life with God. When the pandemic forced the clubs to close, putting all of these girls out of work, a new openness to the message of hope only found in Jesus filled some of their hearts.

Tracy now leads a Zoom bible study with a few of the girls from the club, who are now open to meeting Jesus. One girl moved home with her family, is going to school again and is doing really well. A second girl was on the verge of losing her daughter, but when Tracy and a teammate, Rosanne, went and cleaned her home, getting it ready for the social worker to visit, she was touched. When the pandemic hit, she reached out to Tracy asking her where in the Bible to find verses for comfort. Tracy invited her to the Zoom Bible study and she’s attended for 3 weeks now! God is at work.

We have also had the opportunity to deliver food and birthday gifts to another dancer from the club who wouldn’t share anything about her personal life before this. Now we’ve been invited to her home, met her 9 year old son and got to provide gifts and food for his birthday party!

On 4 different occasions I have been invited into people’s homes to fix toilets, clogged sinks, stuck windows and to deliver Medications from Walgreens, because they were in high risk categories so couldn’t go out. Those moments together opened opportunities to pray with people and shore the hope we have in Jesus!

I’ve participated in several gatherings of citywide church leaders, via Zoom, to pray together and strategize how we can work in unison to better love and serve our community. The walls of the church buildings which kept us separated just months ago, are now gone because large group gathering are forbidden. Suddenly a new openness to minister outside the walls is budding. There is a sense of unity among churches which is growing and a sense of dependance on one another is being evidenced.

Rather than shutting down and waiting out the pandemic, we have an opportunity to step into the work that God is doing and be participants with God in building on the foundation which can’t be shaken. God seems to be stripping away things that aren’t as important and which make a very weak foundation and replacing them with a foundation that is strong, immovable and unshakable!

As you finish reading this letter would you pause for a moment and ask God what He would like to remove from your life or daily routine which is not worth building on? Would you consider thinking less about the things you may lose during this time and think more of the investments God would like you to make into the work of His Kingdom, investments which are eternal and immovable?

I believe the answer to the question, “How do I find hope in the midst of this pandemic,” lies in this simple change of mindset and action!

Thanks for listening to this guys ramblings…I hope you’ve found them encouraging.

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