By Lucell Larawan
With this pandemic harping our day-to-day existence, what awaits us? Where do we go from here?
When the COVID-19 first manifested in Wuhan, I thought that God is just dealing with the Chinese government which used to escalate the persecution of many Christian churches in its territory. But as the crisis has become a pandemic, I now see that God is dealing with all nations.
The reality of the danger is there and we cannot just undermine the spread of COVID-19. Yet, last week I was disappointed with the sermon I heard from a church leader before the ban on public gatherings in Tagbilaran City. The church leader said she was going to disobey the order of the government on the temporary stoppage of church services. Her references were out of context, though. She cited the case of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (Daniel 3) who refused to bow to the image of gold. The church leader used this as an assurance that we will be virus-proof as the three men were fire-proof. Those who do not care to dig deeper on that sermon can easily become prey to the virus. The reason: no one escapes the virus if they despise health protocols because it is sheer foolishness, not an exercise of faith. Upon studying the case of the fire-proof Old Testament figures, I found out that they refused to submit to a king because they know through Judaic law that only God must be worshipped. They were not dealing with a plague but an idol. If they were, we could have followed their move of defiance. Beware of lost commandos.
Still, we do not discount the possibility of heaven mandating certain individuals who pray for the COVID-19 sick. For instance, I came across the story of Dr. Luke, an American missionary who went to Africa in the latter part of the 20th century during the Ebola outbreak. Thousands of those he prayed over recovered and he seemed virus-proof without protective gears. Scientists became curious and they found out through a microscope that the Ebola virus just melted in his hands. We are now looking for such men and women with the gift of healing—those who pray for the sick using Jesus’ name. Where is Benny Hinn, Richard Roberts (son of the late Oral Roberts) and Kenneth Hagin, among others?
In search for answers in this dangerous time, I should emphasize what the Bible says about this pandemic. The Bible in 2 Chronicles 7: 13-14 says, “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 will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
One thing I notice in the Biblical passage is the word “plague” which describes what we are experiencing. Since we face this deadly plague worldwide, what must we do? I am glad that president Duterte heeds his advisers and declares this week (March 23 to 29) as a national week of prayer. What he really means is not just about uttering our prayers to God from our hearts and in our own words. The passage also speaks about getting rid of our evil thoughts and actions. To name a few nefarious things that people do: exploiting the poor either by withholding the right wages or making them suffer to make the capitalist empire grow; committing crimes; having sex outside marriages; sexual perversion; ignoring the plight of the poor; disrespecting parents; and ignoring spiritual issues, among others. Many do not care to read and meditate the Bible–a sin that multiplies people’s madness. I have also noticed that people in the barangays usually do not go to church. They only go there during baptisms, funeral services and weddings. Many people live on their own terms, ignoring what God wants their lives to be. They do not know what heaven wants because they do not read the manual for living. Evil already plagued everyone before the COVID-19 crisis.
Christian prophets say that this is a time of shaking. But they predicted that it will only last for a few months. I vouch the credibility of one of them who predicted this plague four months ago before we know anything about the new virus. So how can we deal with the crisis?
The solution is repentance. Without it, God will continue to deal with people’s pride and arrogance. Know that this is now time to turn from our willful ignorance about spiritual matters and live uprightly. We should make a resolution or the plague will continue.
Make this national week of prayer count to stop the pandemic. Pray in your homes and do not be ashamed about calling for God’s help. There is no other way. Or would you like to continue to separate the 3-in-1 coffee because you have nothing else to do in the community quarantine period?
If we heed to the call for prayer and repentance, we will be free again to do go to schools and offices to conduct our business without wearing masks.