by: Pastora Yanira Lopez
“My enemies will retreat when I call to you for help. This I know: God is on my side!”
I would like to begin this reflection differently by beginning a discussion regarding the things we know nothing about and how they cause feelings of uncertainty in our hearts.
- How much longer before this crisis comes to an end? I DON’T KNOW
- How many more people will lose their lives? I DON’T KNOW
- When will the infection rates globally decline? I DON’T KNOW
- When will our lives return to “normal”? I DON’T KNOW
- When will a vaccine or antidote be made for this virus? I DON’T KNOW
- Will a second wave of covid-19 occur? I DON’T KNOW
Truthfully, there are many more issues aside from these that we are facing in this world that we do not know the answers to, but in the midst of all of this uncertainty there IS one thing I do know, and that is why I have the confidence to say, this very day, that God is the one who is caring for us. But I want us to meditate in the lessons learned during this time. (Apart from the pastors and pastoral staff having learned how to stand in front of a camera Sunday after Sunday with empty seats before them, trusting that both true disciples and unbelievers were connecting to the stream to eagerly hear the word of God and be nourished by it, Marcos and Iris have also been learning more and more about how to use the technology that transmits the program to your homes and many times they felt rushed and prayed to the Lord for it to function successfully, and this is only my perception. We also trusted that someone else from our congregation would be praying in their homes for the stream to be fully functional.)
This was just an example or an anecdote to express a point about one aspect we have learned. Let us move on to the more important points. What lessons could we have possibly learned from all of this? Maybe you are presently asking this question and maybe you indeed have learned other things. Without a doubt we have all learned lessons that will result in positive changes.
We have learned THAT GOD IS WITH US!
The New International Version (niv) describes it in this way: “Then my enemies will turn back when I call for help. By this I will know that God is for me” Psalm 56:9
This is truly an amazing thing that should fill us with peace and hope for even in the midst of much uncertainty, even in the midst of such anguish, we can feel confident and trust that God is on our side, and now when we need him most, we can count on him. IF GOD IS ON MY SIDE, THIS MEANS: Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. (Psalm 23:4)
We are sheep under the care of our shepherd Jesus Christ.
The expression “shadow of death” in Hebrew is “Tzalmavet” and it can also mean calamity, a dense darkness and grave. David recalled his time as a shepherd when he often walked through dark paths and perilous places finding the remains of animals and people that died on that same journey. But he knew that in spite of the darkness and death lurking on those roads, God would be with him, he was not alone, he was under God’s care, he felt as though a sheep would feel under the care of his shepherd. We are living in a world that has become a “Tzalmavet”, a valley of the shadow of death, a place of calamity. But we know, just like David knew, that we are not walking alone. The Lord is with us, he takes care of us. His presence breathes life in us so that we are able to move forward.
This truth also speaks to fact that God protects us as it says in (Isaiah 31:5). As a mother bird circles around the nest to protect her chicks, God also surrounds his people with protection. Our lives are shielded by God. But what defenses do we have against an illness, a pandemic, and a microscopic virus? If God is for me, I can trust that there is a maximum level of protection over my life, which is his protection. The word of God tells us that he is a shield around his people. God’s way is perfect, and his word is proven, tried and tested. He is a shield for all who wait upon him. Just as we read in the previous verse, God shelters, liberates, preserves, saves, and protects his people. The question we must ask ourselves now is ‘do we believe this?’
We have learned to have patience and make the most of our time that God has granted.
Noah and his family were the individuals that experienced the most time in confinement and they did not complain about it. They were under quarantine for 370 days. God closed the door of the ark, not Noah. God left them a window by which they could only peer out and see the heavens as if God was directing them to always look toward his throne. It is to Noah and his family that we owe for the preservation of the human race. He obeyed the voice of the Lord. For 120 years Noah preached to a perverse and incredulous generation. I even think that they must have mocked him but that did not stop Noah from fulfilling his task as instructed by God to build and ark for him and his family to be saved. The ark was not Noah’s it belonged to the Lord and he used it to save them from destruction. Noah had patience during that confinement and instead of murmuring or complaining, I would like to think that they prayed and had devotionals and I definitely don’t think that they had luxuries and commodities like we do. It was much more like a jungle with the roaring, howling and cries that all of the animals would make. Not to mention the smell inside the ark.
We have learned to wait and be joyful until God says it is time. Over the course of the months that Noah was on board the ark everything outside of it changed. He found a completely different world. I doubt he even knew where the ark made its final stop on land but the ark stopped where God wanted it to and as soon as Noah disembarked he built an altar for the Lord and gave thanks for having saved his life and the life of his family. God was so pleased with the fragrance of his sincere offering that he made a pact with Noah to never again destroy the world with floods. God made a rainbow appear as a sign of that pact.
Another individual who was confined for some time was David when he was fleeing Saul. That time of restriction was like a training session for him and his army because from such a tumultuous period arose a king. 1 Samuel 22:1
After this confinement, how will we turn out? Will we have fulfilled our purpose in God? Will our hearts be aligned with God’s?
Nothing happens by coincidence; all things are under God’s strict control. Through this situation we have learned to trust in the Lord. During this time I have seen God’s care over each one of us. We have not been lacking basic necessities. Prior to this global crisis we may not have truly invested in reading the bible because we did not have time, now we have plenty of time. If prior to this situation we were not praying enough because we would run out of time, well now we have time left over in the day and we can now come to our own personal conclusions that will allow us to reflect and practice discipleship.
An additional lesson we have learned is that God will remind us of his sovereignty. He can easily “silence” the world, and make it hold still for a moment to get our attention. He can press pause on the things and activities that the world idolizes whenever he wants and no one can do anything about it. It is true that not even a tiny bird will fall to the ground unless he wills it as his word in Matthew 10:29 says in regards to God’s sovereignty and control. I think that what we are experiencing now is just a glimpse of what is yet to come since according to Luke 21: 7-19 all of these events must occur before the Lord’s return. Jesus will return in a visible and obvious manner, unlike the first time when he came to this earth without a peep that not even king Herod knew that Jesus was practically born next to his palace. For the second coming of Christ when he appears on the clouds with his holy angels, every eye shall see and kneel before him in worship.
God wants to remind us that we should not get comfortable here on this earth for according to his word we are not of this world, we are pilgrims and simply passing through.
Brothers and sisters, I hope and trust in God that everything we are living and experiencing will in some form or another help us for the better.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose.(Romans 8:28)
We know and believe this verse to be true, even though we may not understand how. This pandemic in some way will serve our lives for the better. How will God do this? We do not know, all I know is what our Lord Jesus Christ said at one point when all seemed lost and there was no more hope (John 11:40) “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
God expands our territory lines and as Pastor Carlos Jr stated in his sermon, we must remember who we live for. “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” We have realized that we don’t need a lot of clothes, nor do we need a lot of shoes, not many materials after all. What we need is to live for Christ. The rest will be added. God bless you!