The entire world, as well as the United States, is experiencing a pandemic that none of us have ever experienced in our lifetimes. It is causing a complete disruption in our lives, affecting work, how we socialize, and church. That pandemic is called COVID-19.
Though the pandemic is awful and there are many casualties, there is still hope. God is still seated on the throne. Is God to blame for this virus? I don't believe He is. Can He move in these circumstances? Yes! Do we have a part to play in moving things in a positive direction? Absolutely.
So what can we do as we are quarantined at home? Here are 10 ideas to make a difference while staying away from crowds.
One of the most important things you and I can do is pray. The Bible tells us that our words have power. In Proverbs 18:21, it says "The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit." In 1 Thessalonians 5:16 to 18 it says, "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." I believe these two versus are connected, because why else would it say to pray without ceasing if life or death is in the power of the tongue? We can either agree with heaven with our words, or not. We are the vessels for the kingdom to come to earth. That's why Jesus told us to pray, "Our Father who is in heaven, Holy is Your name. Your kingdom come, You will be done, on earth as it is in heaven..." -Matthew 6:9 & 10
There is no sickness in heaven. Therefore, if heaven is to come to earth (God's will in the above verse), then it is right for us to pray against sickness and disease. God hears our prayers, and things shift in the spiritual realm. That's why it says, "I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart.'" -Mark 11:23
What should we pray for? Pray for a cure. Pray for protection for first responders and medical staff. Pray for our leaders and government to make good decisions on behalf of the people. Pray to stop the spread of the virus. Pray for healing and protection.
When we're feeling afraid, that's a signpost that it's time to go to God. We must pray and have faith! That is when mountains can move.
2. Worship God
In tandem with the above, we ought to have a lifestyle of worship. Isaiah 61:3 says, "To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair." Praise is the antidote for depression, or heaviness. The King James version of this verse describes praise like a garment. That means it's something we "put on"!
Praising God, especially in the midst of trials, can build our faith and trust in Him. It can also lead to miracles! In Acts 16 when Paul and Silas were in prison, they prayed and sang praises to God (verse 25). Suddenly, there was an earthquake, and everyone's bands were loosened. Later the prison guard gave His life to Jesus and released the prisoners. It's amazing what can happen when we praise!
3. Host an online Bible study
There are so many ways to interact online right now. There's a ministry called Jesus Cares that just saw 558 people give their lives to Christ online in one day. That's amazing! The internet is such a great tool to reach people for the Lord. Many times, the anonymity of the internet can break down walls that would be very difficult to talk through in person.
At the same time, the internet can also foster connection. As online services now abound, so do online Bible studies. Zoom.us or Google Hangouts can be a great online place to start a Bible study around a particular section of scripture or a pre-prepared study someone has created. Either way, God is not limited to a particular place! When we meet together in His name, He is there among us -- online or in person.
"Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.” -Luke 6:38
Generosity is a theme throughout the Bible. There are many people in need right now. Who can we help? Is there a local food pantry near you? What about an elderly neighbor who may need help with getting supplies? There are many things we can do to show concern and care for those around us.
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’" -Matthew 25:40
If you're not able to give, it's ok! If you can't give, pray. Prayer is so important during this time.
5. Reach out to others
Are there friends or family members you haven't spoken to in a long time? Now since we are at home more, it's a great time to catch up.
Whether it's a phone call or a FaceTime chat, the only thing we truly carry with us are the relationships we develop while we're alive on this earth.
6. Work on projects or a hobby
It could be something God has put on your heart or simply something unfinished around the house. It may even be a hobby that could turn into a side business. Whatever it is, we can make good use of our time by being productive. Time is like a bucket; we can fill it up with good things!
Even God rested on the 7th day, and He told us we should rest too. I have been sensing that this current time for us is a divine reset. If you are someone who has the blessing of staying home, take care of yourself and take time to rest and get enough sleep! Rest is important for our health and our mental state. "Then Jesus said, 'Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.'" -Matthew 11:28
In tandem with getting enough rest, exercise is also important! Though many parks are closed, there are many fitness options available online. After all, our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit! We need to take care of the bodies God gave us and honor Him with them.
9. Get sunshine
Getting outside can have a great effect on our health. Vitamin D is very important for well-being and mood! Getting outside and breathing in fresh air can change our perspective and improve our health.
10. Practice gratitude
Psalms says we "enter His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise." (Psalm 100:4) Though things might be tough, there are things we can be grateful for, such as a pet, a sunny day, or a chance to begin again. Whatever it is, gratitude refocuses our thinking on what is truly important.
A few final thoughts
We are living in unprecedented times. It's important that we be patient with ourselves and others and give lots of grace. (If you need more grace, just pray for more!)
Create space for prayer and hearing God's voice. His perspective is far different from ours. His will for us is life and life more abundantly, not destruction and death. (John 10:10) There is always hope. Jesus died so that we might be set free from sin and death. (John 11:25-26) He encourages us not to fear! “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.” -Isaiah 41:10
Let's keep our minds and hearts focused on Jesus, and stay in faith. We know the end of the story: He is victorious!
"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." -1 Peter 5:7
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” -Matthew 11:28-30
"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
"The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14
"I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord." Psalm 118:17
“Do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” -Luke 12:22-26
“The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?” -Psalm 27:1
"The name of the LORD is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe." -Proverbs 18:10
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. -John 14:6