COVID-19 Series: 7—There, but for the grace of God, go I

19 Pastoral Thoughts On COVID-19
“For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain” (1 Cor. 15:9–10).

Today, Rev. Pukuta Mwanza was being buried. I was with him in the school of mines at the University of Zambia in the early 1980s. He had also answered God’s call to the pastoral ministry and had even reached the highest level of leadership among evangelical in Zambia until he lost his fight with cancer. Why was it not you or me lying cold in that coffin today?
In these days of COVID-19, this thought should not be too far from our minds. This week, we heard that the Ministry of Health has recorded the first Zambian to die of COVID-19. He had caught the virus while on a trip to South Africa. Why him and not you or me?
There can only be one answer: The sovereign grace of God that is greater than all our sin. We have all long forfeited the right to life …

COVID-19 Series: 6—Be responsible: Do not bear false witness

19 Pastoral Thoughts On COVID-19
“You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not bear false witness, honor your father and mother” (Luke 18:20).

Of the various commandments that Jesus mentioned here to the rich young ruler, I am particularly interested in the one that says, “Do not bear false witness.” This captures the essence of the ninth commandment. Anyone who spreads lies is a co-worker with Satan, a liar and a father of lies. He misrepresented God to Eve and thus led to the human fall.
As Christians we must not repeat a story without verifying it. The spread of the coronavirus is a global disaster. Tens of thousands of lives have been lost. The virus has reached our country. People are fearful. It matters what you “copy and paste”. If it is not true, you are a false witness. You could also cause your hearers to harm themselves and others.
All it takes on social media is a click on “share” or “forward” and you could be guilty of spreading lies…

COVID-19 Series: 5—Share the world’s only good news

19 Pastoral Thoughts On COVID-19
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone” (Isaiah 9:2).

I hear that in only 3 months we are about to hit a staggering 1 million coronavirus cases around the world and that the virus has been reported in almost every country. This is truly bad news. Indeed, every form of media is relentlessly spreading this miserable news—print media, electronic media, social media, and so on.
This can only have a depressing effect on people. It reminds me of the people described by Isaiah as dwelling in a land of deep darkness. The darkness represented a sense of gloom and foreboding. That is how so many people feel today. You cannot miss the sense of fear because this level of global calamity has never occurred before in our generation.
Isaiah said that the people who were walking in darkness had seen a great light. It must have cheered them. What is that light? He later gives the answe…

COVID-19 Series: 4—We truly are frail children of dust

19 Pastoral Thoughts On COVID-19

“Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?” (Daniel 4:30).
These words were spoken by Nebuchadnezzar, king of the great Babylonian empire, after examining his personal achievements. Soon after that, God humbled him. He lost his mind and lived like an animal until God restored him to his senses and to his position of authority. This story shows us how even the mightiest among us are frail children of dust. We are not in control; God is. I think COVID-19 is eloquently showing us the same lesson.
When our bodies are healthy, our jobs are secure, our businesses are going well, and our marriages are intact, we forget our human frailty. We find the worship of God inconvenient. We become too busy for him. Human pride makes us think we reached where we are without God. It fills us with a false trust in ourselves. We think the only ones who need to pray are those in shanty compounds who d…

COVID-19 Series: 3—Oh that you would shut the doors!

19 Pastoral Thoughts On COVID-19

“Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors, that you might not kindle fire on my altar in vain! I have no pleasure in you, says the LORD of hosts, and I will not accept an offering from your hand” (Malachi 1:10).
When I saw empty church auditoriums and closed doors across the world on Sunday, this verse came to my mind with its emotionally touching cry. In the days of the prophet Malachi, the priests had developed a laissez faire attitude towards the worship of God. Many worshippers were bringing blind, lame, and sick animals for sacrifice and the priests were accepting them. God challenged them through Malachi and said, “Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favour?” Of course, he would not! God finally brought a foreign nation—the Babylonians—to shut the doors of the temple permanently.
I often tremble about this when I think of how so many churches in this century have turned the worship of God into entertainment…

COVID-19 Series: 2—Pain is God’s megaphone

19 Pastoral Thoughts On COVID-19
“Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:4–5).
Once we understand that God has a hand in all global disasters, such as the spread of the coronavirus, we can only conclude that the infinite designer of the universe must have a reason for causing human suffering to occur at such unusually high levels.
While others think that God has nothing to do with human suffering, we can also make the mistake of thinking that those who suffer from such calamities are the ones God is punishing. That was the error Jesus was correcting in the quote above. The justice of God that will separate sinners from saints will occur on his final judgement. It is yet to be!
God allows calamities to occur at such high levels in order to call our attention to himself so that we re-examine our rel…

COVID-19 Series: 1—What’s God got to do with it?

(19 Pastoral Thoughts On COVID-19)

“I am the LORD, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity; I am the LORD, who does all these things” (Isaiah 45:6–7).
No person or church or nation can rise higher than their thoughts of God. In our current global crisis of the Coronavirus pandemic, this thought cannot be too far away from our minds: “Has God sent this as a plague upon humanity?” The politically correct answer is, “No, because he is a loving God. He cannot cause the kind of global panic, suffering and death that we are seeing from this pandemic.” However, the biblically correct answer is, “Yes, because he is a God who makes well-being and creates calamity.” God is in sovereign control of all things—including viruses.
We must be careful not to pick and choose aspects about God that we are most comfortable with. When God gave Satan permission to destroy everything Job possessed, all Job was told was that a great wind brought down the ho…