Over the past few weeks the world has been crippled by the coronavirus. It seems incredible that something like this could hamstring every area of society – government, sport, education, banking, entertainment, etc. – and on a global scale. Politicians and health experts are left struggling to contain the virus’ spread with no current ways to fight it. The world has been left helpless and without hope.
Many are left in fear of the virus and the deathly shadow it casts, while others are affected by its impact on their finances and job security, leaving them unsure of a secure and stable future – and all of us are touched by the lockdown.
In circumstances such as these, as Christians we turn to God and seek His counsel, attempting to understand the times. Many of us search the Scriptures, hoping to find pointers in eschatological and prophetic verses. Often a clear and definite answer is not to be found, but we may have a sense of what the Lord could be doing. Ultimately one thing is sure: His coming is closer every day and the reality of the Great Commission is even more urgent.
The following are some of the things that I sense prophetically for this season, firstly for us as individual believers and secondly for the body of Christ as a whole.
This is a time of ‘resetting’ and ‘pausing’. We have been like machines, always on the go and forgetting what life is meant to be about – now the Lord has given us a season to put life back into proper alignment.
- Time with God – busyness has driven us away from the importance of waiting in His presence. Prayer times have too often been more of a rush than a rest, more of a quick ‘hello’ than an intimate dwelling.
- Family devotions – times of family prayer, worship and the study of the Word have been widely lost as other priorities have taken precedence.
- Enjoying creation – being in a constant rush, we have missed those little blessings like hearing the birds sing and appreciating beautiful spring blossom, forgetting to enjoy God through His creation.
- Rebuilding relationships – families have been in the same houses yet have become disconnected through work, smartphones, Netflix and the like, with ‘old-fashioned’ face-to-face communication and listening damagingly limited.
- Loving and caring – caring about others was important in theory but less so in practice as we were drowned in our own hectic concerns. Now we have time to call, chat, listen and care for others.
- Communities – often we did not know our immediate neighbours, but now we have both the time and the need to know and look out for each other.
- Physical rest – we have rarely given our bodies the chance to rest but now we can have the downtime and sleep our bodies require.
- Knowing ourselves – we have escaped and ignored the hidden issues of our hearts, distracting ourselves with incessant activity, but now it’s time to deal with them and face who we are.
- Hobbies – something else always came up whenever we wanted to take some time to enjoy our hobbies, but now we can make stop and engage with them – be it reading, knitting, gardening, doing a jigsaw, etc.
- Healthy eating – we can no longer eat on the go, and having fewer distractions offers a great opportunity to go back to some healthy eating and caring for the bodies the Lord has entrusted us with.
For the wider Church
I believe that the key thing for the Church is to go back to what Jesus originally asked us to do – to ‘go’ and make disciples. It is not a surprise that church buildings have been shut and almost every aspect of performance removed, given how much we spoke about discipleship in some quarters but were actually more focussed on Sunday service activities.
- Beyond the walls – this is a season for congregations to live out their faith in their local communities, beyond the walls of their churches.
- Getting real – it is a time for repentance for the sins of the nation, but beginning with the Church’s own.
- Reshaping our normal – this is not a season of stasis, a ‘commercial break’ before we simply go back to the ‘old’ normal of church life. An important part of what the Lord is trying to do is to reshape our normal approach to church – we need to think creatively and differently now so that we are ready for the coming season after the coronavirus.
- Thinking globally – now is a time for global evangelism as services and discipleship programmes move online – for many, the potential to reach the globe has become an achievable reality. Small churches that were never heard of will be shining the light of Christ towards people whom they would have never impacted otherwise.
- Bold intercession – a season for prayer to increase and for boldness to arise in the Church.