Comfort to God's People in this Challenging Time
Oh my! 2020 has scarcely begun and the challenges that we are facing have put a strain on our day to day lives. Some of our loved ones have ushered and gone home to be with the Lord leaving our homes sad and lonely and now we face a huge pandemic. Let us all keep in mind Psalm 24,
"The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof; the world and they that dwell therein. 2 For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods."
This is the Lord's world. Therefore today! the Psalmist is saying in chapter 68: "Let God arise, let His enemies be scattered: let them also that hate Him flee before Him."
All over the world people are praying for deliverance from a pandemic that everyone is experiencing in one way or another, the evil coronavirus! This virus repulsively called the 'invisible enemy' by the President. It fears no man, attacks with a vengeance with an intent to kill, interrupts, cancels every agenda, brings to an end almost every activity, and it is spreading like wildfire.
We are awoken to this enemy and we realize that human lives matter, so we forget our differences and we unite together. In a sense, this 'evil' creates unity for the head of affairs to forget for a moment political allegiance and join together to figure out combat against it.
Because of the coronavirus, human beings have to stay at least six feet apart from each other. If we should get any closer without the proper covering of the upper respiratory tract and have an underlying illness, you will feel its effect for there is a significant percentage of fatality. The coronavirus is extremely contagious. It doesn't matter who you are its effect is deadly. Lives have changed and are changing due to the cause of this virus. We are no longer shaking hands, nor do we hug. Kissing each other is out of the question. We sing, "Lord make us one," but the enemy says, keep them apart. Some of us have not even seen each other in weeks! We cannot visit our loved ones in hospitals nor the nursing home. We say thank God for the telephone, and other means of communication.
Kaiser Permanente issued a communication stating that "The last few weeks have felt pretty different from how we normally live our lives. From suspending schools to working remotely when possible to avoiding gatherings and contact with others."
The question is, can the enemy keep us apart though? He can endeavor to keep us apart physically but not spiritually. For the when OUR spirits connect to the Heavenly King, the Almighty God through the power of prayer, under the unction of the Holy Spirit, coronavirus, or whatever the pestilence is would dare to hinder our approach, hinder our connections or hinder our blessings. This is what Hugh Stowell, the writer of the song
"From Every Stormy Winds that Blow" said in the second and third stanza:
There is a scene where spirits blend
Where friend holds fellowship with friend
Though sundered far, by faith they meet
Around one common mercy seat
There, there, on eagles’ wings we soar
And time and sense seem all no more
And heav’n comes down, our souls to greet
And glory crowns the mercy seat
In March our General Overseer, Bishop Donald Maxwell sent out a letter to be read to the Pentecostal City Mission congregation as a way of comfort to God's people in this pandemic. The first two verses of the letter were taken from Isaiah 40 where the prophet, Isaiah spoke from the Heart of God to calm, and reassure disobedient Israel: In it, it reads:
"Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. 2 Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord's hand double for all her sins,"
These verses are wonderfully written and brought about the way of forgiveness that the Lord sent to Israel. Isaiah said "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, said your God. This prophecy seemed to be carried forward from the Old Testament into the New Testament with the Good News of the Gospel. The Good News is the death burial and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and through His shed blood on Calvary, our sins are forgiven.
The prophet was told to proclaim to Judah that all that they have done, their evil ways, their rebellion, their idol worship, and every evil that they committed against God's law, God has forgiven them. What a God! Isaiah was given a charge to speak but to speak in a way that his speech must reach to the hearts of the people. "Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem," another translation said speak tenderly to Jerusalem. Her sins have been forgiven! The price has been paid. So take comfort and serve the Lord your God.
Instead of reminding them of the impending judgment, God sent a word to comfort them. Isn't that like it is today? how the Lord comforts our hearts! He did this by allowing us to know that He is the One in Charge. There's a little song that said,
"When the day is dark before you and the clouds are hanging low,
There's one watches ore you, everywhere that you may go.
Jesus is the One, yes He is the Only One...
It is He who injects a soothing song in our spirit when we least expect it, songs like
"Precious promise God has given to the weary passers-by
All the way from earth to Heaven, I will guide Thee with mine eye.
"Under His wings, I am safely abiding, though... still I can trust Him...
The list goes on.
We read in the previous chapter that there are hope and comfort but there is a strong tone of judgment for the people of Judah. The Babylonians would someday capture Jerusalem and take them to Babylon. However, in chapter 40 there is a shift to comfort and blessings. As we go through this season of uncertainty it is wonderful to have Comfort from the Lord Himself. That's why the song said,
"God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform
He plants His footsteps on the sea
And rides upon the storm
Ye fearful saints fresh courage take
The clouds you dread are filled with blessings on our heads
Behind a frowning providence
God hides a smiling face
Speak comfortably to Jerusalem; in times like these, this is how God's messenger ought to speak God's people, tenderly, comfortably, calmly, with such tone the voice will reach the heart. A harsh tone bounces back. Even though there was an army against Jerusalem but as far as God is concerned, their sins are forgiven! Their warfare is ended. This is a real comfort to God's people to know that her iniquity is pardoned. The continual verse said, "She has received from the Lord's hand double for all her sins."
This today our iniquity is pardoned, the full price has been paid.
We now can rejoice in the Lord!