In the Midst of a Pandemic: Anxiety, Assembling, Built Up Together
Different lines of thoughts run through my mind during this COVID-19 outbreak. What is truly happening? Is this just the beginning? Anxiety, panic, fear mixed in with some utter ignorance and recklessness. Then the actual pestilence itself swiping through nations. The world is shaken.
As a Christian, I know that I have to participate in prayers and caring for those in need. I also acknowledge that God has a specific need in this time, although I am not yet clear what He needs except for the unchanging fact that I must seek Him in prayers and in His word. He also obviously desires to spread the gospel of the kingdom to all the nations. But there's this great torpidity that drags me into a spiritual inertia. I have more idle time in my hands. It makes me restless and anxious wanting to fill my day with other stimulating excitements at this time. I can easily enjoy activities that do not necessitate the presence of many others. (I am an introvert by natural makeup so general social distancing is not painful as long as I have a few interactions with close household members.) Interestingly I'm not inclined to invest much with regards to my Christian life.
This is why I appreciate my husband who has been deep in thoughts and reminded me of Hebrews 10:25, which says, "Not abandoning our own assembling together; as the custom with some is, but exhorting one another; and so much the more as you see the day drawing near." A few days ago some of us who usually gather every week to pray as a church met via online video conference to continue praying. Yes, it didn't feel exactly the same as a physical gathering, but our assembling together was very reviving and sweet. We hope to use technology to continue to gather during this trying time, meanwhile I believe the unexpected modification to the routine causes us to consider and treasure the other believers, the church, more.
No doubt in Christ, true peace and comfort abound. However, I would like to attempt to put them in context. Consider 1 Peter 5:6-8. First Peter 5:6 exhorts us to be humbled under God's mighty hand. God is mighty in His salvation but do believe that He is even mightier in His judgment. Furthermore, His judgment begins from His own house. We must learn to properly fear the living God. Yet it is in this very context that the Bible, the next verse, tells us to cast all our anxieties on Him because it matters to Him concerning us. He deeply cares for us. When we cast our anxieties on God, our thoughts are no longer consumed by anxieties. We are therefore sober and able to be watchful of the devil who walks about as a roaring lion seeking someone to devour.
Anxiety makes us food for the enemy. Sobriety, on the contrary, clears our mind and prompts us to care for what really matters - God's goal to build up His church, the true blow to the enemy.This pandemic is a grave circumstance, but we tend toward the anxiety side of the coin. Anxiety centers around our own self and highlights its frailty. Some of us may even gradually shut down and fall into some sort of inertia or hibernation becoming very passive and dormant. I want to say spiritually, but now that I think about it, this falling into slumber can even be true humanly. Anxiety makes us food for the enemy.
Sobriety, on the contrary, clears our mind and prompts us to care for what really matters - God's goal to build up His church, the true blow to the enemy. Matthew 16:18 is a prophecy not just a want, "I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it." It's bound to happen. Therefore, these days I am all the more exhorted to consider how to continue to gather and not only gather, but also to be built up together and grow together as His church.
Please do not violate common sense to protect ourselves against a virulent pandemic, but I believe as Christians, we must encourage one another to continue and even advance in our coming together and interactions with each other (even if it's through video conferences, text messages, or phone calls). It's an urgent reminder that the realm we are living in as the church is not merely material, physical, or environmental. It's a realm in our spirit. "In whom you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in spirit (Ephesians 2:22)."
I shall stop here for now. May we be humbled under the mighty hand of God, cast all our anxieties on Him, and be sober watching as the day draws near, caring for God's goal instead of being absorbed by caring only for ourselves.