by Pastor Joe Pullen
God has blessed the world with brilliant people who understand how diseases spread and can be contained. We can all recite by heart the disease prevention protocols they’ve taught us lately – wash your hands thoroughly, cough and sneeze into your elbow, and avoid touching your face. We’re also becoming fluent at new phrases that weren’t in our vocabulary just a few weeks ago, like social distancing and the creepier one, virus shedding.
Physicians have passed these procedures along and taught us this vocabulary to help our country limit the spread of coronavirus, but have you ever wondered what protocols God has in place for times like these? What’s the spiritual equivalent of washing your hands? A passage in 2 Chronicles lays it out for us:
When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among My people, 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 I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
2 CHRONICLES 7:13-14, NIV
Now I’m not pretending to know that coronavirus was sent by God, but I am certain that our land needs healing. I also know our anxieties can make us focus excessively on disease prevention or trick us into denying its reality – or our addictions tempt us to just escape the whole thing. None of these coping mechanisms provide any curative impact, but we freely engage in them nonetheless.
The Lord says in this passage that our responses should include turning to Him and turning away from sin. God calls us in these times to pause and think about what’s happening. He wants us to humble ourselves by surrendering our pride and acknowledging our need for Him. Having enough food and toilet paper won’t stop a pandemic. Having a huge emergency savings account won’t protect me from long-term harm, and it’s foolish when I think that if my pantry is full, I’m safe from the microscopic enemy that stalks us. Humility is kneeling before the Lord in a desperate posture and saying, “God, I am completely dependent on You to protect me and my family. Unless You stop the spread and heal the sick, no one is safe. This is a problem too large for people to solve and Your power is the only solution. I recognize that I need to be right with you – show me me my sin and help me turn from it.” That’s humility and seeking His face. When was the last time you had a kneeling conversation with God like that? It’s time.
He also calls us to turn from wicked ways. That brings us back to humility too. It’s fairly easy for me to tell someone that I made a mistake or I harmed them. It’s a whole different thing to kneel before God and say, “God, I have wickedness in me that I need You to help me turn away from.”
With this time at home and limited opportunities to leave the house, would you be willing to ask God to reveal your wickedness and agree to turn away from it with His help? Maybe it’s time to admit a secret addiction, or time to get your emotions under control. Maybe your isolation at home is exposing the cracks in your marriage and it’s time to get counseling. Maybe it’s time to surrender your entrenched position towards a family member and time to reach out and say “Let’s heal this.” Whatever it is, God stands ready to help you, and your pastors stand ready to guide you through it.
What if God’s people at Christ The Rock led the way in this? What if ,when we emerge from isolation, we return with nothing hindering our relationships with God and others? What if our humility before God leads us to be humble enough to love our neighbor and offer love to those we’ve never bothered to get to know? What if? The promise of our faithful God is that, when we follow His protocols to spiritually distance ourselves from sin and shed the evil within us, that He will forgive us and heal our land. God, make it so.