March 27, 2020

‘Is There Any Word from the Lord?’

Massive layoffs, skyrocketing unemployment, and a roller-coaster stock market would be enough to upset the stomach of even the most experienced thrill-seeker. But add a deadly virus to the mix, and suddenly it seems like someone hit the fast-forward button on time left for this old world of ours. 

Zedekiah asked Jeremiah, when facing impending doom, “Is there any word from the Lord?” (Jeremiah 37:17, NKJV).

Yes, there is. God is love. Nothing has changed. You and I are still the apple of His eye, and we can always put our confidence, hope, and trust in Him. In short, God cares for you. Please allow me to suggest some practical steps for forging ahead in difficult times:

1. Watch the news outlets sparingly. One can take in too much of anything, especially the droning of 24-hour news channels with copious amounts of bad news to share. Eventually, you will become depressed and find it hard to trust and believe in good news when it comes. 

2. Tune into the Good News. If you have suddenly become homebound and you realize you haven’t spent high-quality time with God for some time, now is a good time to feast on the Living Word, Jesus. I have faced difficult times before; in fact, most places God has sent me have had a major crisis waiting for me, one considerably more severe than that which I currently face. If you think long and hard enough, this is probably not your first spiritual rodeo, either. Let’s remind our collective selves: God got us through every time in the past, so we know He can do it again! Remember, “We have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and His teaching in our past” (Christian Experience and Teachings of Ellen G. White, 204).

3. Surrender. Giving in is not what most of us wish to do. Jeremiah told Zedekiah, Give in to the will of God. Zedekiah chose to use political artifice while attempting to appease the power players of his day. He refused to trust Jeremiah’s counsel, even though He knew it was of heavenly origin. It probably seemed too trite, too simple, and didn’t allow him to do anything other than trust God for the outcome. Whether we work for a company or are self-employed, now is the time to align ourselves with God rather than participate in the prognostications of the faithless and fainthearted. Now is the time to fall back into the hands of God and fully surrender to His providential will.

4. More time in prayer means more time to think about, ”Where do I stand with God?” Are there unconfessed sins in your life that need to be put on the altar and left there? I read Jesus’ beautiful prayer of John 17 as a part of my devotion time today. It reminded me of how much He loves me and wants to save me. If you don’t have to commute to work for the immediate future, commit that time to having a closer walk with God. If you are off work for weeks or more, a new habit can be well on its way by the time you return to work.

5. Now is a great time to share your faith in Jesus! Pray and ask God, How can I share my faith today? And then move out in faith! He will supply the opportunity. Sharing our faith should always start in the home and then emanate outward. If you can’t go next door, look at those around you. And now that you are around them 24/7, work even harder at imitating Jesus. 

6. Reach out to the senior citizen who is homebound. Use a delivery service to send groceries, and let them know what is coming so they can take the proper precautions with receiving the delivery, be it washing hands carefully, using rubber gloves, or wiping or spraying down packages and packaging with antibacterial/antiviral spray. Connect with family members you have not been in contact with for a while. They will be glad to hear from you. Call the people on your congregation’s sick and shut-in list. Help a child who is now being home-schooled with their homework. Give to your church in ways that are safe yet tangible. Maybe you haven’t had time to give of your time in the past. Be creative with your time. 

7. Trust in God. Remember what God told Jeremiah. “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). The original language of this verse depicts a rope being let down to a person who felt hopeless, and it’s let down by none other than God. When God is holding the other end of the rope, you can grab hold with confidence, knowing He will never let you down and He will never let you fall.  Remember, the plan of redemption was crafted in heaven before the world began. There’s no crisis in God. God’s word to an overwhelmed Jeremiah would have been, “I will not bring you to it, if I haven’t already charted for you a path through it!”

The original version of this story was posted by the Lake Union Herald.