Shalom to you!
As I greet you using this word ‘Shalom’ I am sending a very relevant wish upon you. I mean it. According to Biblical use of the term, it means universal flourishing. It means wholeness and delight. It is a wish that whispers a richness of every supply that is required to satisfy your natural need. Shalom means that peace be prevailed, life would be fruitful and inspired a joyfulness in the presence and favor of your Creator and Savior. This is used to greet a peace, which is pushes you into an active and creative state of seeking a vibrant in God.
Stand encouraged upon reading this, and prayerfully stand with all around you. Though you see terrible things are going on here. Down the street near our house on the gloomy morning of April 23, someone noticed that a man was walking feebly, he just sat there, and after few minutes, he fell down and later, we found him ceased to take breath… Was it Covid? Hunger? or Else? What the days we are witnessing! In our church alone in Kathmandu, over 20 members are found Covid 19 positive reports, some are in critical condition, and some are recovering at their own home. We are under attack! Entire Kathmandu valley is now challenged, lockdown has been extended for one more month, and we are not sure how long this will be imposed. Hundreds of families in slums nearby our church building in Tinkune, are experiencing starvation, thousands other are having the same problem. I believe, a fake scarcity is created in the market and the price has been unbearable for the low-income families.
People closed or afar have been expressing their concerns, they are asking whether I am keeping safe and doing fine? I should not lie to them, because the situation is going worst here! Well-known pastors and leaders are going to eternal home due to Covid 19; thousands of others are suffering throughout the country. Due to prolonged lockdown, hundreds of thousands around us have finished things to feed their family. The big names into politics and marketplace are turning their ruthless heart to the poor, news headlines are complaining that they are just looking for some more so they could live a secured life they are taking this difficult situation as an advantage – the corruption is rampant! The government is serving the coldblooded giants, the people in authority are not found proving that they are sent there to serve, rather they are to run an autocracy, so our prime minister would have an unquestionable reign ever! Almost every hour, I hear an overwhelming appeal that many local leaders whom I might not personally, call me for survival. The local community leaders who know my name is involved in relief-oriented ministries are asking for help! What should I tell and comfort them? I am trying to be a help, prayerfully seek ways to do so, yet the things are growing adverse. Even in my deep sleep, my phone rings and tells me that my attention is required … there is a constant appeal for survival… how should I say, “Yes, I am doing fine”?
Many others claim that they have suffered all sorts of sorrow and pain more than anyone they ever know. But I think it is just a human nature that whenever adverse situation is experienced, we usually throw legs and complain. Most of us, even we see others are going through the same painful feelings, ask the question ‘why it happened to me?’ What does this mean to you, when you find yourself into a difficult situation? We deny the fact that we will win, rather we disbelieve or doubt in God for letting us go through the difficulties. We think, it is okay as long as the problem is still on others’ shoulder. But once it comes unto us, we are scared, and want to escape as immediately as possible so others may have to face it but not us.
But in such time as this, we must stay watchful, calm and prayerful. We should stand firm on the faith that is found in Christ’s triumphant accomplishment embracing the fact that by faith in Him we are more than victorious.
I recall, attempted walking through the history of human being, and learned so much about the struggles our ancestors of faith had fought against. Many times, they were hit by the pandemic like this. Everything they could hold to fight against the prevailing tragedies did not help them. All strategies, weapons and efforts they could use helplessly failed. Hundreds of thousand, even millions in some incidents, ceased to breathe further and passed away. I would say, nothing worked for them. No suggested wisdom and strived inventions, no planned security scheme and no achieved power worked for them, none of the powerful could stand in conquest, but lost everything! What would you add to these?
For my little knowledge, there are three main sources of power to subdue, to control, to build security around and to get rid of any adversity are: a) the economic gain, b) access into political institutions or government and c) the moral strength. In the midst of chaos, the prior two might collapse, but the virtuous power that comes from morality – fearing God, will ever prosper. That is why the universal body living Christ, the church always steps out and offers a humbling but compelling service to the suffering ones. Church will prevail over the gates of hell! That is the very characteristics of church, which is set on the rock (Matt 18:16).
For more than a year, the Corona Virus has become the major threat to life, more than any other enemy we may have defeated in the past, this unseen little one is deadliest. They say, it is spreading anywhere to anyone any time, and this will go viral until this is stopped. What we are to take measure of the viruses? Nothing. Can we really fight against it and win? Perhaps, no! But my firm conviction is that the church can do something. For us, as the committed followers of the sovereign Christ, the question of what the pandemic will take away from the believers is salient because of our conviction that there is a God who supplies his unceasing love and cares for us. Yet, some of us are still wondering why God permits such pandemic unto His people? Why He permits suffering? If God really cares for His children, then why they should face the tormenting agony? You may tend to believe that God is bringing punishment in this way, is it so?
No! I don’t believe that this is God’s retribution against the mankind. Once, Jesus was asked whether a man blind from birth was because of his parents sinned? He did not admit that, rather said, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him” (John 9:3). Take a deep breath, this has not come because of us or our forefathers’ sin, but God has allowed it so that His works would be demonstrated in front of our eyes. In this light, I want to urge you to ponder on the theological meaning behind such pestilence. Yes, in a way, looking at around the filthy works and indulgence we are just tolerating, it might be the wrath of the most Holy God, but more than that this pandemic could be a divine testing and or blessing too. But it would be really hard for us to acknowledge that this pandemic could bring a blessing out of so much brokenness, miseries and devastation. Specially, when we see the sincerely serving ones, the doctors and nurses are themselves suffered and lost the battle, when we see the poor and marginalized experiencing starvation, when we see the genuine-looking Christians are hurried into the hospitals and did not come back. Even though it seems awkward, I am not surprised of the fact that the sovereign God, the loving Father would use such dreadful experiences so He could determine His glory.
What is your current status in terms of the pandemic? Are you safely locked-down in your house quarantine? Are you confined in a designated room for self-isolation? Or are you lying on the hospital bed? Wherever you are, just remember that God is at present. Take it as if you are in a mood of penance, thus given an ample time to sit with the Lord, drawing yourself into His caring arms and opening your heart’s concerns to Him. You have the redeemer Christ with you! Thus, nothing, I say nothing can separate you and me from His hand (Romans 8:31-34).
My point is you and I should be positive, not to the viruses but to the virtues that God is in control and everything turns out to be good before each of us. We should accept the fact that God is still in control and the pandemic shall not prevail before His will. The situation we are facing, whether we are forced to be in lockdown, tested to be covid positive or put ourselves in quarantine, a place of self-isolation or even into hospital bed, we are still at the conqueror’s side. I can openly tell you this by experience. Yes, I suffered of the virus, including my whole family. I know what really puts you down, it may not be the virus, but more of you is your own inner-strength. For this, I am encouraged to put some practical suggestions on how you and I can overcome the endemic, here is what suggest. Let us be wise, do studies looking every fact, rather do not believe what all media spreading. Let us follow health and hygiene guidelines and stay safe maintaining physical distances. You can put some standards of your dietary routines, and keep being busy with people and also work that has to stay connected to help someone. Keep thinking of positive and fruitful result you will have of your attempt to serve. Show up your non-anxious presence so others maybe encouraged. Use your communication technologies to reach more people, let may see you are with them and contributing to create a caring community. And above all, pray personally, and pray jointly with others in the church or the wider networks of prayer warriors. I tell you; I am part of National Prayer movement which begun right after lockdown was declared last year in March, and this daily virtual prayer gathering is continue even today. I am committed to push this chain-prayer even until the endemic exists. You will see, not more people are excited about praying together so you will have less than expected number of people joined, but praying to God does not count by how many gathered, but it matters who are gathered to seek the Lord’s intervention. Hold unto the ‘Shalom’ peace by thinking of those who are in great dismay of losing the job or finishing up their last meal. Generously walk an extra mile, leave your comfort zone and help restore hope for live. May the Shalom activate in and through you!