“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” ~ 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NKJV)
Like the rest of the world, everyone is grappling with the coronavirus pandemic, known as the COVID-19 that originated in Wuhan, China and was first reported in December 2019. The United States declared a National Emergency on March 1, 2020. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the novel coronavirus outbreak a pandemic on March 11, 2020. As I type, which is changing quickly, over 350k cases have been confirmed globally and more than 15k people have lost their lives worldwide. Many countries have implemented some type of partial or full lockdown in efforts to curb the spread of this virus. The world is in distress!
The puzzling piece about this coronavirus, according to health officials and epidemic experts, is that no one is immune to this disease. The rich, poor, strong, weak, young, old, powerful or struggling, anyone can get infected by this virus. This is not a disease for just developing countries as we are often used to; world’s economy is projected to be severely impacted. Our daily lives’ routines as we know it have been disrupted or brought to a screeching halt, indefinitely. In this trying time, where many people are panicking, grocery store shelves are out of basic items like toilet paper that many wonder how this relates to the outbreak, I wanted to share this message with my readers.
There is hope that is NOT based on the findings of the scientists or medical communities around the world working around the clock to find the vaccine/cure for this virus; the hope that is NOT anchored in powerful leaders or nations that have always been regarded as having all solutions to the world’s economical and social problems. The hope I share is NOT endorsed by billionaires who have made some to believe that money can do about anything.
Our hope is in GOD alone. He is the same as He was yesterday, today and always!
Before I go farther, I want to first address a misconception that I have heard regarding trials and tribulations of various kinds that people go through. Couple years back, I had an interesting conversation with someone who told me that he stopped believing in God after his mother died of cancer! When things don’t pan out the way we prayed or wanted, we sometime resort to bitterness or denying God’s Power. We blame God by saying that if He was a loving God, that wars, genocides and tragedies would not happen.
My question is, how often do we ever pause to wonder if God might see things differently? And where do we read that God’s answer will be predictable. Of course from Jeremiah, we know that God’s plans are for prosperity, not to harm us. But if we trust that the Lord knows what’s best for us, does it ever occur to us to ask Him what He thinks about our needs/requests? Do we ever pray that His will, not ours, be done? Jesus prayed this way!
Different times call for different measures. Here is what I wanted to share with you today: 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NKJV). But let me take a step back a little bit. You may remember the Bible story about the king Solomon, the son of King David; he was chosen by God to build God’s Temple. Solomon has been described by the Bible and scholars as one of the wisest and richest king of his generation. And he was truly generous with labor, material and everything that went into building & polishing God’s Temple; all the construction & furnishing work took about 7.5 years to complete (Read 2 Chronicles 2 through chapter 7).
After completion, and the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord has been brought into the Temple, Solomon gave a speech, a prayer of dedication, blessed the assembly, and dedicated the Temple. Although he understood that even the heavens couldn’t contain God, much less the Temple built by human hands, but he believed that God promised that His Presence will be present in this Temple.
I personally love the honest prayer that Solomon prayed as he dedicated the Temple; he prayed to God in a way he could predict that people were going to mess up in life; he asked that: if anyone sins against his neighbor, or God’s people are defeated in war, or the heavens are shut & there is no rain because of people’s wickedness, or if there is a famine/pestilence in the land, or foreigners in need, if any of them prays toward this Temple, that God will hear the pleas they make.
“12 Then the Lord appeared to Solomon by night, and said to him: “I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice. 13 When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, 14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:12-14 (NKJV).
Over and over again, we see in the Bible where God’s people rebelled against Him, and He would allow/let them go through things to learn to keep His commandments. And we do see it in this conversation between God and Solomon. Surprisingly, the COVID-19 is considered a pestilence. I am by no means implying that God brought this calamity upon the nations. But I know and believe that He is able to stop it from happening. Subsequently, I believe that there’s a reason for this. And if we truly understand that our existence and breath we take is in the hands of God, we’d pause and wonder if there is something at stake that we need to learn here.
I have read multiple internet articles that have called for prayers worldwide; this is very encouraging! However, I personally believe that if we are only praying for this coronavirus to end, we should pause and ask God if there was more to it that He wanted us to learn from this experience than just the pestilence happening & ruining people’s lives. You see, when God told Solomon about that calamity that may be brought upon His people because of rebellion, in verse 13, He didn’t ask them to pray for the end to the pestilence/locusts/drought. God mentioned not one, but 4 things that His people should do in this scenario:
- Humble ourselves
- Seek God’s Face
- Turn from our wicked ways
And after then, He will hear from Heaven, forgive our sins, and heal our countries/land. Just think of it like this: as a parent, let’s assume that you are disciplining one of your children. Rather than them cleaning their room as you instructed, or doing a chore you know would build their character in a long run, they are just sitting on the couch, playing a video game or watching noneducational YouTube videos.
Then you decide to teach them a lesson, and you take the iPad or TV privileges away. To protest your decision, they cry and call you a bad & selfish parent. As a parent, do you immediately reverse your punishment because they cried, and called you a bad parent or really begged you? Or you let them cry, and eventually do the chore you asked in the first place? And then, only after then, they get the iPad/TV privileges back! Isn’t how parents do it? Isn’t this how most of us were raised by loving parents?
Likewise, I personally believe that if we’re only asking God to end the pandemic because it’s inconvenient to us, and not repenting/seeking God’s Face, we are truly missing the point!
We see some examples of people in the Bible who were told about an impending destruction if they didn’t repent of their sins. One example is recorded in the book of Jonah about the great Assyrian Empire. Its capital city, Nineveh (today in Mosul, Northern Iraq), was a flourishing city, a trade center, and later became one of the largest and most affluent cities in antiquity. Nahum 3 describes how horrible the people of Nineveh were: bloody city, full of lies and robbery and so many more. Jonah has been sent by God to warn them they’d perish if they didn’t repent.
6 Then word came to the king of Nineveh; and he arose from his throne and laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes. 7 And he caused it to be proclaimed and published throughout Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying: let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; do not let them eat, or drink water.
8 But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God; yes, let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. 9 Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish? 10 Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it. Jonah 3: 6 -10 (NKJV)
Will you join me in seeking God, praying, repenting our sins, and humbling ourselves before God? May be, like the King of Nineveh, God will hear our prayers, forgive our sins and put an end to this pandemic? Again, I am not saying that God sent this outbreak; but I know without a doubt that He’s capable of ending it. And I know He will, in His due time! And He is Glorified, now and always!! But until then, you and I have a part to play! Do you believe it?