The world is in a major crisis.
The United States president announced Friday this pandemic as a “National Emergency”. The NCAA tournament has shutdown. The NBA took a break. Disney World has closed down.
The World Health Organization has officially identified the COVID-19 virus as a global pandemic. Yes, the word here is “pandemic” rather than “epidemic” which means a spread of disease. Pandemic is universal with the Greek word “pan,” which means a worldwide crisis.
The COVID-19 has indeed impacted not only China, Italy or the USA but has impacted a large number of nations and society all around the world.
The question perhaps for us Christians is, how should Christians respond to this worldwide crisis? How should we biblically think in this fallen world that strikes panic and fear of our life, family, and churches?
Here are few thoughts from Lamentation 3:1-23 that give Christians hope in a hopeless world.
The People of God Being Deserted in Affliction
Lamentation opens up with the words, “I am a man who has seen affliction” (Lam 3:1).
The author understood that the “affliction” as he has personally experienced it. Although the author is not explicitly associated with the book of Lamentation, many scholars have believed the author of the book to be associated with the prophet Jeremiah, known as the “the weeping prophet”.
The book of lamentation is a poem lament which means, a passionate expression of grief or sorrow. The author invites the community of believers to join in weeping with him through the suffering the people of God are experiencing.
The prophet relates the gloomier and discouraging part of his experience as he sensed an alienation from God’s favor and describes as being “driven away” (v. 2) from God’s presence.
He describes his experience in the first 19 verses like the following,
- “My flesh and skin waste away” (v. 4),
- “Besieged me with bitterness and tribulation” (v. 5),
- “Dwell in darkness like the dead of long ago” (v. 6),
- “I cannot escape” (v. 7),
- “He shuts out my prayer” (v. 8),
- “He has made me desolate” (v. 11),
- “He has set me as a target for his arrow” (v. 12),
- “I have become the laughingstock of all people” (v. 14),
- “Filled me with bitterness” (v. 15),
- “He has made my teeth grind on gravel” (v. 16),
- “Made me cower in ashes” (v. 16),
- “I have forgotten what happiness is” (v. 17),
- “My endurance has perished; so, has my hope from the LORD” (v. 18),
After reading through the 19 verses you may be thinking, “THIS IS DEPRESSING!” Yes, so does many within churches how people feel in the present circumstance.
- In their life, feel as every day is wasting away, and God has forgotten (v. 3)
- In their marriage, feel as living in darkness and no way out; trapped for a lifetime (v. 7).
- In their church, feel as they cannot pray as anxiety overwhelms and clouds the thoughts (v. 8),
- In their job, feel as being fired and lose the job by living on the edge (v. 12).
- In their friendship, feel as they’re simply a joke and being taunted (v. 14).
- In their family, they feel as want to cower away and hide from society (v. 16).
- In their relationships, be desolate and abandoned in the difficulty of communicating (v. 17).
- In their old age, feel as the endurance has ended and only seems to be hopeless (v. 18).
On top of that, the worldwide crisis of diseases. These snipers are circling the souls that make us feel as there is no hope whatsoever. Within moments of notice, we can get a message from on the Worldwide News with a national alert, “Outbreak” an imminent alert, everyone is worried and panicked!
Indeed, the situation feels as though God is not good nor near the situation.
But the Lamentation doesn’t end there. The author remembers!
The Steadfastness of God and His Faithfulness
“But this I call to mind” (v. 21) could be translated as “returns” by remembering. As a result? “and therefore, I have HOPE”
What does he remember?
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
His mercies never come to an end;
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness. (vv. 22-23).
As believers, it is not wise to interpret God based on circumstance. Christians must continually remember (return) to Who God is and His wonderful deeds of the past. Christians can have hope in the Lord even though things are not turning around the way they have originally hoped for.
That is the reason even the Psalmist can say similarly,
“I was envious the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked” (Ps 73:3),
“Until I went into the sanctuary of God!” (Ps 73:17).
When there is a turn, Christians can remember and there is true lasting hope.
Amid Worldwide Criss to Have Deep Faith and Hope Through God’s Mercy
Maybe there is someone you know who needs to hear this or maybe you needed to hear this great reminder.
When people are often anxious, worried, fearful or depressed, they often have the wrong thinking of who God is. Sadly, people are often not thinking about God and God is not at all in the equation of the present circumstance.
Even though it is out of the depths of the utmost distress that we seek God, we always find him to be good to us.
You must not think because of the present circumstance is difficult, the LORD has forsaken you and somehow does not love you.
As the great Hymn Great is Thy Faithfulness puts it well in the chorus line,
Great is Thy faithfulness
Great is Thy faithfulness
Morning by morning new mercies I see
And all I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness
Lord unto me.
For hope is not defined by the absence of hardship. Rather, hope is found in God’s grace in hardship. Hope is found in his promise to give us a future.
God may not change whatever circumstance that you are going through right now, but He does give you perseverance to overcome by His glorious grace (Rom 5:3-4).