Sunday, March 14, is when the corona virus pandemic flipped the religious world upside down.  Tens of thousands of churches suddenly closed their doors to worship services and moved to online platforms.  Many pastors began addressing their congregations on subjects like fear and worry.  I was a guest speaker at a small rural church that Sunday.  In my sermon I echoed the same theme.  However, as my wife and I prayed day by day for our community and world, another word has come to mind – repentance.

Repentance is a Bible word that can be associated with someone standing on a street corner and holding a sign with large letters declaring “REPENT!  THE END OF THE WORLD IS AT HAND!”   With images like this, repentance can be viewed as condemning and not get used much.  It is unfortunate, because it is actually a loving and beautiful word that is vital for times like these.

What we are facing is not just day to day worries about family, jobs or finances.  This is bigger. This has the feel of something apocalyptic.  World leaders and the brightest scientific minds on the planet are trying to slow and eventually stop the spread of this “unseen enemy”, as President Trump has called it.  Even so, it continues to cause infections, take lives, and literally shut down entire cities and states, nation by nation.  What is happening?  Where is this headed?  How much longer?

Jesus of Nazareth once looked into the future of the world and predicted what things like this would take place before He came again.  He told His followers, “. . . there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world” (Luke 21:25-26).  Jesus clearly spoke of global events that would instill fear and anxiety on the world before His return.

What is His message to all of us in a time like this?  Repent.  Because repentance moves the hand of God in a way that overcoming fear does not.

For God is the only one who has the power to stop the spread of this disease.  He can unlock the minds of scientists and give them the information they need or simply command it to stop.  Only God has the power to heal all those who have the virus.  He can heal the sick and raise the dead.  God has the answers the world seeks and He stands ready to respond.

What must we do to receive His help?  Humble ourselves before Him and repent.

God is both just and merciful.  He is just in allowing us to reject Him and suffer from the effects of going our own way.  Our global pride and immorality have taken us down the wide road of destruction.  Yet, God is also merciful.  Because He loved the world, He sent His only Son to suffer, to die and rise again that we might be forgiven.

But to receive His mercy, we must acknowledge the evil in our hearts and repent.  For it is through repentance toward God and belief in His only Son, that God will unlock His mercy and healing power on the world.  God predicted that some will mock such a message, while others will humble themselves and receive it.  Time is of the essence.  We need His intervention quickly.  Will you repent?  Will you believe in the Lord Jesus and be forgiven?  Will you receive His cleansing power?  Will you meet His conditions to bring healing on our land?

A prayer for you – “Lord God, you are our answer!  You are the world’s hope!  You alone have the power to stop this virus!  Humble us.  Examine our hearts and point out any and all of our sin.  Show us what wrongs we have committed so we can repent.  We call upon you to save us and heal the nations of the world.  We repent and believe!  By faith we pray, in Jesus’ name.  Amen.”