WARNING: I’m about to make some overgeneralizations and sweeping assumptions, but if you read to the end, there is a point.
Some might say that the year 2019 was the last normal year. Things were going well, great in fact, as we compare it to our present. The economy was booming, unemployment was at an all-time low, and American business was on the rise in the global market. That translated into greater donations to non-profits like churches. In January 2020, we had another “above and beyond” giving for Mission Sunday. The year was packed full of potential and opportunity. Then, COVID-19 hit. There was a great concern for loss of life. News outlets and trusted sources became sources of fear. The old news adage, “If it bleeds, it leads,” was never more true.
For the sake of Biblical analogy, let’s compare it to Elijah’s alter call on Mount Carmel (1 Kgs. 18:20-40). There, 450 prophets of Baal were killed, and the people seemed to be turning back to serve God. Things were good. However, that all changed for Elijah. Elijah found out that Jezebel had pledged to kill him (19:1-2). He fled to the South, leaving his servant and traveled further into the wilderness. With his life threatened he prayed, “O Lord take my life” (19:4). He laid down to die under the Juniper tree. God provided meals for him on two occasions, enough for him to travel to Mount Horeb, the mountain of God. There he was in a cave. The Lord asked, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (19:9). He said, “I have been very zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts; for the sons of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away” (19:10). This question and response happened twice. God responded with reminders of His power in wind, earthquake, and fire (19:10-11). He also responded with reminders of Elijah’s work. He tasked him with anointing two kings, Jehu for Judah and Hazael for Aram, and anointing the next prophet, Elisha (19:15-16). He also put things into perspective for him. Elisha’s thought process throughout this whole narrative has been, “I alone am left.” The Lord reminds him that there are 7,000 that still serve the true God (19:18).
So, what are we doing here? Will we go forward, armed with the knowledge that God is still powerful, that there is work for us to do, and that there are many that have served God even in the face of a pandemic? Or will we retreat back into the cave of fear, misinformation, and skewed perspective? This is not about physical health. It’s about making choices for a spiritually healthy 2021.