It could be said that I am in the vulnerable group right now, with regards to COVID-19. I am over sixty five, and presently I have COPD. Medically a person does not recover from COPD, but I say that I have it presently because I am asking the Lord to heal me. Basically COPD means that my lungs do not work as well as they should. Anyway, that puts me in the vulnerable group. And yet I am not afraid. I do not say that to boast, because my lack of fear is not due to my hard work or my positive thinking, or anything that I could produce myself. God lives in me, and because of that I am not afraid.
Fear has been knocking on my heart though. All these announcements that I keep receiving through my cell phone, telling me about how many people are sick now, how many have died, and how we have to self-isolate to stop the spread of the infection – they want me to be afraid. So I go back to the Lord. Philippians tells us that we are not to be anxious about anything, but in every situation we are to pray with thanksgiving, asking God to help. I have been practising having an attitude of gratitude for quite a while now. Although the Spirit has to often remind me, I am getting quite good at stopping for a few minutes to voice some of the things I am grateful for. I choose to worship the Lord more too. I print off the words to a song that was introduced at church, then I sing along with my phone until I can sing without it. The words of the songs I tend to choose help me to recognise how great our God is, how much he cares for each one of us, and that I can trust him. And all this serves to help me stay close to the Lord. And when I am close to the Lord I am not afraid.
I was feeling happy about not being afraid – then the Lord showed me that was not enough. I was reading the book of Acts, and I came to the part where Peter was put in prison. James had just been put to death by Herod, and because he saw that this pleased the Jews, Herod had Peter arrested. I always loved the part of the story where Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound by chains. I have to be honest – without the Holy Spirit there is no way that I would be sleeping in a situation like that. In some ways I would not mind dying for the gospel, but I would rather not know that it is coming. Peter knew what had just happened to James and must have known that Herod was planning the same thing for him. That kind of fate does not normally lead to a peaceful night’s sleep! Not to mention that Peter was not sleeping on a bed, able to freely move about – he was chained between two guards. And yet Peter slept. He was not afraid. Peter was trusting his God. I love it!
Yet the Holy Spirit was drawing my attention to something else in this story. James was killed suddenly. The church was not prepared. But when Peter was arrested there was time for them to go to prayer. They met together and prayed fervently for Peter’s release. I am not sure how much they were praying in faith though, because when an angel brought Peter out of prison, in response to their prayers, they could not believe that it had actually happened! He knocked on the door of the home where they were gathered to pray, but when the servant girl answered and heard Peter’s voice, she was so shocked that she failed to open the door. She ran back to the group that was praying and told them that Peter was at the door, and they thought she was mistaken. Eventually, because Peter kept on knocking on the door, they actually opened the door and saw that she was correct.
This is what the Holy Spirit was drawing my attention to – I need to be praying for a swift end to this pandemic. I need to be praying for protection for my family and friends and neighbours and those still serving the community. I need to pray for those who are unable to get the help that they need, I need to pray for those who are afraid, and for those who are sick. I need to pray for a vaccine to soon be made available. I need to pray for governments to make wise decisions, and for all of us to follow their directions, even if it is uncomfortable for us. I need to pray for those struggling financially, and for small businesses likely to go under. There is so much I need to be praying for. And I must not be complacent. I could be, because I am able to do my job from home. I have enough food to last for a while. I am safe. But I am a child of God, and my God is able to defeat this thing! And I need to rise up and ask him to. Please, in your homes, join me in asking the Lord to demonstrate his love and power at this time.