I find myself just thinking about the world dilemma as the nations face the Covid-19 virus. Fear, unrest, panic and even anger are but a few of the emotions seen every day in our country. Sunday, I shared a message via Facebook Livestream from the pulpit of Central Baptist Church in Prescott, where I am serving as interim pastor. I titled the message, “Where to Turn When You Don’t Know Where to Turn.” In this article I have chosen to share some of those thoughts.
An old song infiltrated my thoughts as I pondered our crisis. It has these words: “Living below in this old sinful world, hardly a comfort can afford; striving alone, to face temptation’s sword, where could I go but to the Lord? Where could I go, oh, where could I go? Seeking a refuge for my soul. Needing a friend to help me in the end. Where could I go but to the Lord?”
Throughout history, mankind has faced crises! In each instance they really didn’t know where to turn — at first.
Adam and Eve found themselves in a crisis immediately after their fall into sin. God banned them from Eden, but as they began to deal with a cursed earth, they turned to the Lord. It’s called trust!
Noah, with his family, upon receiving word from God that the entire world would be destroyed by a flood, definitely faced a crisis. But as he and his family turned to the Lord, they found safety and life. It’s called Faith!
As the Amalekite army attacked the Israelites, Joshua and his army fought valiantly. Moses, along with Aaron and Hur climbed atop a hill overlooking the battle. As long as Moses held up his hands, the army of Israel was winning. But when he tired and his hands dropped, the Amalekites were winning. Facing such a crisis, Aaron and Hur seated their leader on a stone and each held up one of Moses’ hands. As a result, Joshua and the army of Israelite won the battle. It’s called togetherness!
Elisha and his servant found themselves in a crisis! In the Valley of Dothan they were surround by the Aramean army. Elisha turned to the Lord, asking him to open the eyes of his servant — to see that those who were with them were much more than those against them. It’s called the eyes of faith.
The entire city of Nineveh found themselves in a crisis. Jonah, finally obedient to the Lord, told them that in 40 days (did you get that?) In 40 days, their city would be destroyed. What did they do? The entire city — including the king — turned to the Lord! It’s called believing in God!
Paul, traveling with a ship full of people, encountered a fierce northeaster as they journeyed to Italy. The passengers had worried themselves sick; filled with fear and anxiety, they did not eat for 14 days. After the 14 days, the ship was lost, but not one human life was. Why? They turned themselves to listening to the Word of God. It’s called being still and knowing the Lord is God!
Okay, some may say, “Those are crises of ancient history. What about us?” Our entire world is facing a huge crisis! It’s making thousands sick, and many are dying. It’s disturbing the world economy and it’s interrupting our American lifestyle. It’s why we are not gathering in churches on Sunday morning. It’s called Covid-19—the Coronavirus!
Where do we turn when we don’t know where to turn? Here are some words of advice I shared this past Sunday. They happen to be from God’s Holy Word — His instruction manual for facing crises and celebrating victories:
• Don’t panic! Like those I have just mentioned, turn to the Lord! “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in time of trouble” (Psa. 46:1). More people hurt their friends and loved ones most when panic strikes in a stadium. They literally trample people because they don’t know where to turn.
• Don’t run away! The President has mandated that we avoid being in contact with others as much as possible. People are staying home as much as a result. This is no time for people to try to flee to another country or to the mountains. “Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in all the earth” (Psa. 46:10).
• Don’t let fear consume you! A verse of Scripture that has been my mainstay for the past 56 years of my ministry is good: “So do not fear. For I am with you. Do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isa. 41:10).
• Don’t lose confidence in God’s promises! Does God ever lie? Of course not! He is incapable of lying. “For I am the Lord your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, ‘Do not fear; I will help you” (Isa. 41:13). We can certainly have confidence in His promise. Please remember, God is not just a promise maker — He is a promise keeper!
• Don’t worry! Turn to God in prayer! Paul, who knew what is was like to face one crisis after another, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit wrote, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Phil. 4:6).
• Do claim God’s peace in the face of crisis! When believers avoid panic, fleeing, fear, loss of confidence in God’s ability and stop worrying, the Lord gives a unique and wonderful peace — that God is in complete control. “And the peace of God, which transcends understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:7).
Isn’t that what we are really seeking in the face of COVID-19? The trouble with us amid this situation, this crisis, is that we tend to turn to the wrong advisors, the wrong instruction as to how to deal with crisis. We tend to not even know what we are really looking for because we are gripped with fear, anxiety, and yes — too often, with panic.
Look at what Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).
Our nation has faced many deadly viruses over the past 25 years. Each was a threat to individuals from every walk of life. We have dealt with HIV/AIDS, the Swine Flu, SARS, the Bird Flu and others. My friends, our nation and our world need to seek the Lord and turn to Him! He is the same God who rescued those biblical examples I mentioned, and He has brought us through these previous health scares. He will rescue us just the same!
I began this article with lyrics to a song. I will close with some words from another: “He’s got the whole world in His hands. He’s got the whole world in His hands. He’s got the little bitty baby in His hands. He’s got you and me brother, in His hands. He’s got you and me sister, in His hands. He’s got everybody here, in His hands. He’s got the whole world in His hands.”
Where do you turn when you don’t know where to turn? Turn to the One who has the whole world in His hands! Our God is in complete control, and we can trust Him!