The last few weeks have been full of unprecedented changes in our lives and in our ministries. Pastors are trying to figure out how to minister in a period of social distancing.
None of us have been trained to do this. We’ve never ministered through an epidemic like the COVID-19 before. Fear is everywhere. I’m sure you’re wrestling with it, too.
Not everything you hear is true. Not everyone with an opinion on the Internet, television, and social media knows what they’re talking about. You need to be selective with who you listen to during this time. Many people in the coming days will have their own agendas—financial, political, etc.—for this crisis.
The Bible says in Proverbs 13:16, “The prudent man always acts out of knowledge” (NIV). In other words, act out of knowledge and not fear. Make it a priority to get your facts from people who are trustworthy.
Not everyone is at equal risk in this pandemic. The history of COVID-19 is very clear. People over the age of 60 and those who have preexisting conditions are most vulnerable. If you’re in these categories, please be careful.
This will pass. The Bible tells us there will be trials. First Peter 4:12 says, “Dear friends, don’t be surprised or shocked that you are going through testing that is like walking through fire” (CEV). These are tough times, but they won’t last forever.
We need to do what the health professionals recommend. We need to take the common sense actions that will decrease the spread of this virus. We won’t need to make these changes forever. FallsCreek will gather again.
Focus on what’s unchanging not what is changing. There will be many changes to our world, our community, and our ministry in the coming weeks. It’s safe to say we don’t even know all the changes this pandemic will have on you and our community.
The Bible says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8 NIV). In the midst of all this change, you can count on that truth. You can also know that God’s love for you and your community has never changed. God’s call on your life hasn’t changed. Don’t let all the changes make you lose sight of everything that is still the same.
God will go through it with you. This virus didn’t surprise God. He will walk through every bit of it with us. You may feel alone at times. You may feel like no one understands the demands of ministry that are upon you right now. But we will never be alone.
I encourage you to remind yourself of Isaiah 43:2 during this time: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze” (NIV). Focus on that truth and not all the noise on the internet right now. It will replace your worry with worship.
This is not the end of the story. The Bible says, “In times of trouble, God is with us, and when we are knocked down, we get up again . . . because we know that God raised the Lord Jesus to life” (2 Corinthians 4:8, 14 CEV). Easter reminds us that we win no matter what happens. Even if this virus takes our lives, we will go straight into the presence of God. On that day, all of our pain, sickness, and sorrow will be over. There won’t be a COVID-19 virus in heaven.
We don’t know what the future holds, but we do know who holds it.
This virus didn’t sneak up on God. It won’t stop the church. Jesus himself reminds us that “all the powers of hell will not conquer” the church (Matthew 16:18 NIV).
Rest in that truth.