“Thriving Through COVID-19

COVID-19! China virus threatens millions around the world! Harvard professor linked to working with Chinese on Coronavirus! Death toll climbs as virus enters sixth month . . . seventh month . . . eighth month . . .ninth month . . .  Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade canceled. Dropping the ball in Times Square on New Year’s Eve in jeopardy. Hmmm . . . one could get lost in the sea of media releases. Yet . . . we still have the NFL selling limited seating tickets. As of midnight, November 16, 2020, over 11.3 million cases of COVID-19 reported in the United States, with over 247,000 deaths. Millions more around the world have been diagnosed. I would venture to say the majority of people have – in some form – been touched by this disease.

For the church, we have witnessed state government restriction regarding attendance at worship services. Restrictions, too, on attendance at weddings or funerals. Sadly, loved ones have died alone – without family, pastors, friends. Pastors/priests found themselves without the ability to minister to their congregations. While tele-evangelism for been around for years, it was either a delayed or pre-taped broadcast. For instance, for someone in Kalamazoo, Michigan, to have watched a Billy Graham crusade in Houston (1974, Astrodome – awesome), the Kalamazooan would have to wait several months. Live broadcasts of Dr. Graham’s crusades did not begin until the mid-1980s. Talk shows were filmed before “live” audiences, but aired later. No one envisioned something like an international virus interrupting the manner of communication. Suddenly, “social distancing” and “wearing masks” became common vocabulary from the White House to my and yours  house. COVID-19 created a sense of urgency for men/women of God to reach their sheep.

Enter 21st century technology! To the founders of Facebook, YouTube, and Zoom, I say “Thank you!” In adherence to state COVID-19 guidelines, my home church stopped all live services and activities on March 22. However, as a congregation, we were not left in the cold. Our pastor began taping his Wednesday evening Bible study and Sunday morning message. The church media team would upload the study and message on Facebook and YouTube. Beginning  May 31, we returned to God’s house for “live” services. The media team began “live” streaming on Facebook/YouTube, allowing “at risk” congregants, and families not ready to mix with others, continue receiving God’s Word, delivered under the unction and anointing of the Holy Spirit. Men’s and Women’s Bible studies, Youth  Ministries, and Children Ministries used Zoom, allowing participation from home.

Elohim, My God (as Moses referred to him in Psalm 91:2), stepped in to ensure His children would receive His Word. The Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent, God of all Gods used man’s invention (Seriously?) to assist His messengers/shepherds in reaching their sheep. Miracles happened not only in the New Testament with Jesus Christ but throughout God’s Word. From the parting of the Red Sea so the Israelites could cross on dry land, to Elisha’s body being so full of the anointing a dead body was revived, to Ezekiel’s Valley of Dry Bones, miracles abound.

And know ye this day: for I speak not with your children which have not known, and which have not seen the chastisement of the Lord your God, his greatness, his mighty hand, and his stretched out arm, And his miracles, and his acts, which he did in the midst of Egypt unto Pharaoh the king of Egypt, and unto all his land; . . . But your eyes have seen all the great acts of the Lord which he did. (Deuteronomy 11:2-3, 8)

In this paragraph, I facetiously wrote “seriously,” regarding man’s invention. While a fan of the television show, The Big Bang Theory, I am not a fan of the theory as detailed in science. I do, though, believe in a “big bang theory.” Walk with me to the beginning. Let your imagination . . .

Angels gathered around the Throne. Michael and Gabriel standing beside God. The four beasts crying, “Holy, holy, holy,” as well as the 24 elders saying, “Thou art worthy, O Lord.” God waved His arm, and all went silent. Using His finger, God pointed and said: “Okay, Neutrons, you are going to mix with the Protons. Hey! All you Atom kids, get over here and stop fooling around. Gasses, I told you to stop eating the borracho beans. Vapors, please stop emitting. On my count, I want you to all come together. I am going to create something spectacular.” And with a wave of His arm . . . The angels, elders, and beasts stood in awe and amazement as shapes began coming together and then . . . “In the beginning God created the heaven and he earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” (Genesis 1:1-2) Yes, atoms, protons, neutrons, gasses, and vapors came together. Yes, a “big bang” happened but not on its own. The Spirit of God moved . . . and time began.

God, in his infinite wisdom, looked forward through the eons of time to the year 2020. He knew the challenges his messengers/shepherds/evangelists would face in fulfilling the Great Commission. As Mordecai asked Esther, “. . . and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14) Elohim prepared the minds/talents of young men to create outlets of communication. Their specific knowledge, individually and/or collectively, came to the aid of the kingdom for such a time as this. Solomon (the wisest man on earth) says, “To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding; To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity, To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion. A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels: . . .” (Proverbs 1:2-5 [emphasis added])

Thriving Through COVID-19? Absolutely! But God! As Jeremiah wrote:

Thanksgivings will pour out of the windows; laughter will spill through the doors. Things will get better and better. Depression days are over. They’ll thrive, they’ll flourish. . . .They’ll look forward . . . to being a community in which I take pride. (Jeremiah 30:19-20 The Message [emphasis added]

Blessings, my friends! I pray you all have an awesome and amazing Thanksgiving!

Marilyn Emswiler