As I write this the nation, indeed the world, is on alert for a virus that has, well, gone viral. We have seen something like this alarm in the fairly recent past when Ebola or SARS were on the rise, and have survived them fairly well. However, as upsetting as these episodes have been, we should not forget that the world has known the scourge of Bubonic plague (which killed an estimated 75-200 million) and the Spanish Flu (which may have killed as many as 100 million people), even before the days when air travel can take a germ around the world in hours, and 24/7 broadcast news can shout the alarm. It not only helps us have some perspective, but also reminds us what is possible.
We are right to be concerned and cautious. We are right to pray fervently for God’s mercy, and that we believers, whatever part of the world in which we live, will be like those believers in past health crises, like the Black Death, who showed care and compassion for the ill, even at the risk of their own lives. We can pray that God will use this emergency to turn eyes to Him, open hearts and minds to the gospel, and help us to be alert to opportunities to share our hope, our peace, and our perspective on life in these troubling times.
But another thing has struck me as I have witnessed the alarm with which this threat has be met: has our concern for other threats, such as spiritual and moral threats, been as elevated as our concern when our lives and livelihoods are at risk? Have we prayed with such a sense of urgency and passion when it comes to the issue of abortion, or the assault on the truth of God in our schools and land? Are we as concerned about justice in our courts, the destitute in our streets, or the “least of these” all around us as we are with the potential upset this virus could bring? Are we praying fervently about the epidemic of porn, human trafficking, and abused children as we do about this germ?
No doubt God has laid some of this on the hearts of some of you, and you are, indeed, actively engaged in praying for some of the above list. God does not expect us to take on all the causes, but He does lay specific prayer tasks on the hearts of people who seek Him for ways to influence the world for His kingdom. What I am asking is for us to go before the Lord and ask Him to help us discern if our priorities for what causes us urgency of heart and prayer are in alignment with His priorities for us.
This is a serious consideration, given that just the absence of our prayers over our schools could well be why a generation of young people raised in the church, have been so infected with the mindset of the world that they have “died” to the ways of God, or, at best, are on life support. Is it too late to turn the tide here, or in the many other ways our apathy to fervent prayer has allowed the diseases the world spreads to our souls to run rampant? Perhaps we can no longer be the “preventative care” prayers we should have been over the years, but the state of our times cries out for us to become the emergency room squad in praying desperately that spiritual life can be recovered in our families, nation, and world. Will we answer the call?
by Sheri Cook, Director of Special Ministries
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