A few personal thoughts on the current pandemic – with a link to the past…

March 19, 2020 by  
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It is rare I use this space to share personal thoughts which stroll into areas not directly related to Rare & Early Newspapers. If you are uncomfortable with views which may not match your own, please do not continue reading. I will certainly not be offended. If you decide to continue, please enjoy.

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Large-scale tragedy comes in many forms and often comes quickly. Whether by severe weather (flood, hurricane, drought, etc.), earthquake, war, severe economic crisis, or disease, the death, destruction, and broken lives (of those who survive) have been scattered throughout time. As we now face a nightmarish pandemic, it is easy to think myopically, and in so doing, fear, anxiety, and panic often win the day. Yet, what is a reasoned response? Where do we turn for strength? Politicians and other world leaders can help, but they are often mere fingers in a dyke – trying hopelessly to restrain the flood of pending devastation. Religious leaders can help point us to the future, and historians can direct us to the past (see examples through time), and family and friends can provide us with a degree of comfort. Still, in the end, most succumb either physically or emotionally to its crushing, callous, and often capricious impact on the world as they… and now as we know it.

This reality, in conjunction with the current pandemic, has caused many to reflect on life, death, and what is and is not important – and I’m certainly no exception. Each morning I try to read a passage from the Bible and jot down my thoughts as a written prayer-response to what I’ve read. What follows is my last two entries. If they are an encouragement to even a few, great. However, please know yourself. If one man’s meanderings from a Christian perspective would be offensive to you, please do not continue – but know you are in my thoughts and prayers as we walk through the shadow of death. You may still wish to explore the link above which shows examples of similar circumstances through time. We are not alone. 🙂

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A simple prayer (3/14/2020)… Psalm 61:1-4 “O God, listen to my cry! Hear my prayer! From the ends of the earth, I cry to You for help when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the towering Rock of safety, for YOU ARE my safe refuge, a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me. Let me live forever in Your sanctuary, safe beneath the shelter of Your wings!”

Dear Lord, Eternal vs. Temporal? Perspective vs. Panic? Hope vs. Despair? Not to be fatalistic, but other than a few who will meet Your Son in the air (upon His return), we are all going to die. Death is not a respecter of race, gender, socioeconomic status, quality of character, the size of one’s portfolio, political affiliation, personal accomplishments, etc.. The best eating plans, exercise programs, personal habits, and efforts to live a “clean” life still produce the same outcome as those who ignore all of these things – albeit perhaps a bit delayed. Whether it comes through war, famine, “natural causes”, prolonged illness, a tragic accident, or a devastating pandemic, it’s going to happen. AND, sadly, the truth is, we’re to blame. Death is a reality which was birthed by humanity in The Garden, was the final act of all those who perished prior to, during, and after the Great Flood, and has been procured by each of us ever since. Does this mean we shouldn’t try to stave off the inevitable for as long as possible or be sad when it comes upon our loved ones? Of course not. After all, Your Son cried upon hearing about the death of a close friend, and when considering His own pending death, begged You to explore if there could be any other way to save His “bride to be.” Death is lousy – period. However, death is our just reward. YET…
 
“At just the right time, while we were still powerless [to avoid death], Christ died for the ungodly.” (Romans 5:6)
 
[As crazy from a human perspective as it sounds; and although…] “It is rare indeed for anyone to die for a righteous man (though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die), You proved Your love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us [according to Your plan]. Therefore, since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from wrath [death and separation from You] through Him! For if, when we were Your enemies, we were reconciled to You through the death of Your Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through Your Son’s life!” (Romans 5:7-10)
 
The bottom line is: “Your Son was delivered over to death for our trespasses and was raised to life for our justification.” (Romans 4:25)
 
Why? “For You so loved the world that You gave Your one and only Son, so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
 
I do believe, therefore: “I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Your Son, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
 
So, whether physical death can be viewed far in the distance, or is only a cough and a sneeze away, I can join with David in saying:
 
“O God, You listened to my cry! You heard my prayer! From the ends of the earth, I cried out to you for help when my heart was overwhelmed – when I was without hope, and You led me to the towering Rock of safety. And now, YOU ARE my safe refuge, a fortress where my enemies (whether they be people, tragedy, sickness, or even the grim-reaper) cannot reach me. Thanks to You, I will live forever in Your sanctuary, safe beneath the shelter of Your wings!”
 
Eternal vs. Temporal? Perspective vs. Panic? Hope vs. Despair?
 
Lord, With You as the Author and Perfecter of my faith, I choose to seize an eternal perspective of hope. Amen
 
PS AND as far as desiring… wishing… hoping to still be alive at the time Your Son returns is concerned: “For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17a)
 
Lord, if it be Your will for me to perish (physically) prior to Your Son’s return, while I’m sure it’ll likely be distressing in the moment, I doubt I’ll mind so much when I’m looking over my shoulder waiting for those who were still alive to catch up on our way to joining Him in the clouds. Yet another win-win from Your hand of grace! Amen again.
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A simple prayer (3/16/2020)… Romans 9:30-33 “What does all this mean? Even though the Gentiles were not trying to follow God’s standards, they were made right with God. And it was by faith that this took place. But the people of Israel, who tried so hard to get right with God by keeping The Law, never succeeded. Why not? Because they were trying to get right with God by keeping The Law instead of by trusting in Him. They stumbled over the great rock in their path. God warned them of this in the Scriptures when He said, “I am placing a Stone in Jerusalem that makes people stumble, a Rock that makes them fall. But anyone who trusts in Him will never be disgraced.”

Dear Lord, Thank You. Thank You. Thank You. Thank You for the above passage which drives home the nature and beauty of Your grace. While we often (rightfully) criticize the Pharisees for being whitewashed sepulchers – white and clean on the outside but on the inside filled with dead men’s bones, many of the Israelites did pursue The Law without ill motives – simply as a means for obtaining righteousness. Yet, Your Word overflows with examples which hammer home the truth that good intentions are simply not good enough. This point was made clear from as early on as the Garden. Adam and Eve sought and made coverings of fig leaves to cover their nakedness. Well intended? Perhaps. Good enough? No. Cain followed with providing a sacrifice from the fruit of his labor. Well intended? Perhaps. Good enough? Again, no. This same pattern was played out over and over again throughout Your Word, and culminated in the New Testament when we were told about a rich young ruler who had made every intention of keeping The Law from youth, yet in a matter of seconds, was revealed by Your Son to be lacking. It’s not as if this should catch us off guard, for Your Word in Isaiah 64:6 says, “We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind.” Yet, still today many seek to gain good standing with You by making sure their good deeds outweigh their bad. Once again… Well intended? Perhaps. Good enough? Sadly, and often tragically, no.

The bottom line: You are the Creator, we are the created… You are the Potter, we are the clay… You are Sovereign, we are not. Regardless of what we think or do, You are The One who decides the method for our salvation. Thankfully, in Your great mercy, You did supply both the method and the means: through faith in what was accomplished by Your Son when He gave Himself up as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. Why is this the only Way? Because You said so. Why is this Good News? Because even our best efforts, no matter how well intended, could never change our very nature – a systemic problem which was passed down to us from Adam and validated endlessly by our own actions – the mother of all pandemics which had and continues to have a 100% kill-rate apart from You. Without the righteousness provided for us through Your Son, we are merely dead men walking. We don’t need a fix, we need a complete redo. We need to be born again. Thankfully, You provided for us that which we could not provide for ourselves: the ultimate Cure – spiritual rebirth… a new heart… the You-Sourced breath of life itself.

Lord, thank You for Your great plan of salvation. Thank you for your mercy. Thank You for Your grace. Thank You for the method and the means. Thank You for forgiveness. Thank You for a hope which reached beyond the grave. Thank You for faith. Although I don’t get it, thank You for wanting a relationship with me. Thank You as well for birthing in me a desire to have a relationship with You. Now that I think of it, thanks for everything. Amen

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A Simple Prayer’s reading schedule may be viewed at:
https://www.facebook.com/A-Simple-Prayer-109808103914263/?modal=admin_todo_tour

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