Perhaps it’s somewhat oversimplified, but I agree with the gist of what Esau McCaulley wrote in an opinion piece to The New York Times this past week: “What about the rest of us [who aren’t medical professionals]? This remains certain in the ever-shifting narrative of Covid-19: the most effective ways of stopping the spread of the virus is by social distancing (avoiding large gatherings) and good personal hygiene (washing our hands). The data suggests that what the world needs now is not our physical presence, but our absence.
“This does not seem like the stuff of legend. What did the church do in the year of our Lord 2020 when sickness swept our land? We met in smaller groups, washed our hands, and prayed. Unglamorous as this is, it may be the shape of faithfulness in our time.”
One thing is certain: we should—as he mentions—spend much time in prayer. I wrote and posted this prayer a few days ago on Facebook, but I thought I’d share it here for our congregation. Let’s pray . . .
- that God will use this experience to lead people to him (knowing that he often acts most dramatically during times of crisis and uncertainty)
- that he will protect the weak and vulnerable
- that he will help his people—you and me—to act out of faith, not fear; courage, not timidity; compassion, not criticism
- that he will look out for those who do not have sufficient financial margins to endure a significant downturn in the economy
- that he will take care of those who work in segments of society that will be most dramatically affected by the quarantine
- that he will strengthen those on the front lines of medicine as they fight to keep their patients alive and healthy
- that he will draw families closer together, fortifying relationships that have been weakened by over-scheduled lives
- that he will not allow time away from one another to lead to any distancing of spiritual relationships within the church
- that he will lead Christians to use our time wisely as we find more opportunities—not fewer—to practice the spiritual disciples of Bible reading, prayer, and reflection
- that he will not allow Satan to use this to push more people to vilify one another and in so doing lead to greater polarization
- that he will work through the church to accomplish all of the above.