“Be still before the Lord and do not fret…” Psalm 37
The pandemic is taking its toll as it drags on. How is that for an opening sentence? I wanted to send you a message about faith while waiting, because the Bible has a lot to say about waiting.
The story of God’s people spans 3,000 years, many, many more if you count creation! A lot of that time the people were waiting. And it wasn’t just good old-fashioned waiting for something good to come along, it was a desperate waiting for deliverance.
Think about it. Four hundred years of slavery in Egypt. Six hundred years under one empire after another; Babylon, Greece, the Seleucids, the Ptolemies and finally the Romans. Then it was two millennia from the time of Jesus to the establishment of an autonomous Israel in 1948.
The period of waiting most poignant for me was the slice of four years during World War Two while Jews watched their people being systematically slaughtered in the attempt to wipe them from the face of the earth. It must have seemed like the end of everything to them. We must never forget the Holocaust. The word means “burnt whole.” The word is Shoah in Hebrew. In modern Hebrew the word means “catastrophe.” I’d call that an understatement, wouldn’t you?
God’s people are familiar with having to wait – and wait – and wait.
Our period of waiting to get out from under the pandemic would seem like a short time to some of God’s people in those times. But for us it feels prolonged – very much prolonged - and we can’t wait to get to the end of it.
What are we supposed to do?
We are supposed to love God utterly and our neighbors as ourselves. We are supposed to witness to Jesus Christ and devote ourselves to the church. We are supposed to help those in need. We are called to do this in the best and worst of times.
The task of the Christian is not dependent on circumstance. Although maybe when the times are tough and needs are great it is all the more obvious that we are called upon to honor God.
I had a semiannual check up with my doctor last week. When he asked if I had any questions for him when we were finished I asked if he minded me asking his opinion about COVID vaccines and the wearing of masks. I explained that our church leaders have devoted a lot of time to trying to find the best thing to do.
My doctor launched into a despairing, exasperated ten minute talk (ten minutes out of a doctor’s day is a lot) lamenting that not everyone wants the vaccine and the reluctance of people to wear masks. He said we would most likely be out of danger from the virus by now if everyone had taken advantage of the vaccines and used precautionary measures early on. He was genuinely perplexed about the controversy surrounding what he considers to be obvious, safe and effective measures to defeat the pandemic. I believe him and I trust him.
Then he turned it back on me. He said, “Fred, you are a leader and I am sure your people respect you. Please urge them to get the vaccine and to wear masks.”
Many religious leaders, including those who would be considered the most conservative, recommend the vaccine. Some people have unusual health reasons not to take it but they are rare.
I am saying this now for the record, that every health professional in our congregation recommends the vaccine and you will see them wearing masks in public. Every single person in our church trained in health care says, “Mask up and get vaccinated.” Not one of them has a reason to relay anything to us but the truth. I believe them and I trust them.
Like many, I am aggrieved as we watch doctors, nurses and health aides resign because they are overwhelmed with the work and pain. Many have had it with waiting. God bless those striving above and beyond the call of duty to help heal and treat people.
I have said from the beginning I am going with the health professionals not because of me, but because of the other. The thought that I might make someone sick because of my spreading the virus bothers me. So I am vaccinated and wear the mask most of the time. I have said from the start it is an act of Christian love to protect those around us.
Let’s end this pandemic by practicing the best, recommended health precautions.
We don’t know when it will end. Pretty soon we will be sealing up our homes against the cold of winter and worrying that closed off buildings will lead to spreading the disease.
Till then we pray, we serve God and we love one another.
Some quotes from the Bible about patience:
You also must be patient. Keep your hopes high, for the day of the Lord’s coming is near. James 5:8
The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. Lamentations 3:25,26
“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faith. Isaiah 40:31
“I will not leave you desolate. I will come to you. Yet a little while the world will see me no more. But you will see me. Because I live, you will live also.” John 14:18ff
Please pray with me. “Lord we remember those suffering bereavement having lost loved ones, especially those who lost someone (s) to COVID 19. Help us to defeat this virus. We know you always fight for us. Help us to love and care for one another, even as we love you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”