These thoughts keep coming at me. Thoughts which sound ridiculous if someone were to hear them. And then I think, but God did so much for me, for us all. And I was created to bring glory to Him. So here goes. 5 ways I see the hand of God in COVID-19.
All glory to God.
I see the hand of God in the current pandemic, COVID-19. Life as most people knew it came to a grinding halt five weeks ago when we were encouraged, or ordered, by our state governors to shelter in place in order to slow the spread of the virus. Workers began working from home. Children began learning online. Many workers were now unemployed or filing for unemployment. Teachers are learning to use an app to teach their students. Healthcare workers and first-responders had an increase in their workload. National Guard personnel were called up. And the government taskforce began reporting daily on the pandemic.
Here’s how I see the hand of God in the pandemic:
- Beauty in nature. As the pandemic unfolded, the earth, in the northern hemisphere at least, began to bud and bear the blossoms of spring. And tornado season began with a bang. The normal seasonal changes emerged, the birds began to sing, the trees budded and came into leaf, the animals came out of hibernation, the ice went out on Joe’s Pond. Creation keeps on doing what it does. The seasons are not affected by a virus. God keeps giving us beauty to behold. I find great comfort in sighting a blue heron in flight or sitting by the fishing pond. The cherry tree outside our window was our own private cherry blossom festival. Birdsong and crickets and peepers.
- Making ends meet. While others had their work schedule disrupted, mine is finally about to begin. Five months between paychecks is a long time to wait on God. I only pray for my needs to be met, and they are. (I don’t pray for an abundance.) God always goes before and provides in ways that are outside my thinking (and others’). You may not see my need as God’s provision, but my God has promised and He always keeps His word. The stimulus, when it comes, will fill a big need for yearly bills which (usually budgeted for) came all at once.
- Answered prayer. Sometimes we think our routine is best for us when it could be so much better. Sometimes we pray for things we have no idea how God will answer or if the answer is even possible. God always hears our prayers, and He always answers them. I can see several prayers of mine (for others) being answered in incremental ways during this pandemic. God has created or allowed circumstances out of which things come which are not possible during our normal routines. Stand back and watch, you’ll see. Don’t be afraid to ask God for big things.
- Prayer time. When the pandemic began our Sunday School class was studying a book on prayer. I had begun to ramp up the amount of time spent in prayer and the numbers of people for whom I prayed. Nothing like a pandemic of this proportion to keep that going! I’m not saying I have it all together, just that I can see God using this time to help me to spend more time focusing on the needs of others, which is number 5.
- Focus on others. Before the pandemic I had the house to myself without interruption. The people with whom I live used to be gone all day, giving me some independence. Now they are home all day, which in a good way has moved me to think of others much more than I did before. Not only the people in my house, but people in other states and countries. Finding out the situation of many missionaries and friends during this crisis is an ongoing project, and then adding them to my prayer list.
There is a single lady missionary whose ministry I have followed for over three decades. She went back to the field in December. She is currently beginning a work with an unreached tribe in West Africa. Just before the pandemic she wrote of, by name(s), several new missionaries who are coming to work in this new ministry. I looked each of them up online. I found three, families with young children. One is from the east coast, currently in language school in France and ready to go to the field. One is from a place in the midwest which I would never have heard of had I not worked there some twenty years ago. The third lives in a very far west state where I lived decades ago. Easy to remember and pray for! Isn’t God good? I know how to pray for each of them, though I have met none. And I am praying for the village, the people group, and especially the chief and leaders to come to Christ and their need of a Saviour soon. Nothing is beyond our God. Not the fact that they are currently on three different continents, unable to travel. Not the incredible timing of the pandemic travel ban right before they were supposed to all come together in one place. And not if, God forbid, any of them should get sick. Whatever happens, to God be the glory. I can’t wait to see how He works this one out.
One of my friends (widowed) started her third year of teaching at a mission school in Chile. She is teaching her second graders by video now, which is way outside her comfort zone. She lives alone in a foreign country. She went back to Chile from the States in February. God will use this time. He will use her. She may see some of her students trust Christ during the pandemic. We don’t know. But we pray.
A missionary and his wife came on furlough earlier this year from Italy, where they’ve served some forty years. They are holed up in a basement apartment in the home of one of their supporting churches halfway across the country from their home. Their children are all in Italy serving. Some of them are scheduled to come on furlough soon. Did God not know? He has a plan. I can pray. This has to be frustrating for them. God will use even this.
Some of the specific things God has done are too personal (involving others) to mention here, but God is working and I want to praise Him and thank Him for His care for us in the smallest things. Yesterday it was the droplets of water on the tiny cherries beginning to form on the tree outside our window.
Others. Thinking about others and praying for them. The Union Gospel Mission in Los Angeles, California. Skid Row. These people, the CEO and staff and residents, and the people in the tents on the sidewalk in front of the mission, need our prayers. Some of them need Christ. Most of them need a home. All of them need protection from disease and death, or at least eternal death, if not physical. They all need someone to care about them. I am praying for Rev. Andy Bales and his staff at UGM. One staff has died from the virus. Five residents have tested positive. The annual fundraiser had to be cancelled because of the pandemic, hence the online fundraising. The residents are being moved to more private dwellings for the interim, and there is a need for people to work at the mission (some staff are working remotely). The work of this mission is crucial in transforming lives and restoring hope to the homeless and those without Christ. Pray for God to use this for His glory, and for the workers to not lose hope and faith in God. Click on this link for an episode of NBC4 News depicting the work done by the mission in LA.
The tiniest details are not lost on God. The what ifs and might have beens are not lost on God. He uses them all if we let Him. I thought to have been living in another state, in a church where I have previously worshipped and served. But God used the might have been to make a connection so that I might pray for a little boy with leukemia and his siblings and parents and grandparents and the church where they serve God. Not the same church. The pastor and his wife are the little boy’s grandparents who have gone to live there and help. And since the pandemic and social distancing and closures of certain venues made it necessary for their trip to the treatment center to take four times as long (the better part of the day)… but God can use even this for some great purpose which He knows and we cannot as yet see.
When you ask God to help you see, just a little bit, things the way He sees them, well you just don’t know what will come of it. Your heart might hurt a little more. You might not have time for yourself. But you will be closer to God, I can assure you of that.
What ways have you seen the hand of God in the current pandemic? I am quite certain this list will be expanding in the days to come. Let’s look for God’s hand in our lives, let’s ask Him to open our eyes to His working in the details of life, particularly in things created by Him. And let’s glorify God for all that He is, and all that is doing, and all that He will do for His glory and our good.