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It’s springtime in the Western North Carolina mountains where I was raised. There are days of beautiful sunshine, blue skies, and cool breezes.
On such days, the views of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains are spectacular. But there are also days when storms roll in, black clouds descend, views are obliterated, and the thunder shakes the earth as it ricochets from peak to peak.
I’m reminded of those fierce storms now because the threatening black cloud of the coronavirus has enveloped our nation. Its powerful impact is ricocheting from “peak to peak”-- place to place--from our families to our homes, to our schools, to our businesses, to our sports, to our economy, to our churches, to our health care facilities…to our entire way of life.
It seems to be obliterating our view of freedom…of peace…of happiness. The swiftness of this storm’s advance is stunning and almost breath-taking (pun intended).
As I have prayed, a dramatic scene from the Old Testament has unfolded before my mind’s eye which I would like to describe for you. It took place when the recently freed Israelite slaves were camped at the base of Mount Sinai. God spoke to Moses, the man He had used to liberate the people from bondage in Egypt. The Lord said to Moses: I shall come to you in a thick cloud, in order that the people may hear when I speak… The Bible then describes the thunder and lightning flashes and a thick cloud… (Exodus 19:9, 16, 18).
Moses encouraged the terrified people, Do not be afraid; for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin. The people looked, and there was the glory of the Lord appearing in the cloud (Exodus 16:10). The amazing climax was that Moses then approached and entered the cloud where God was. And it was there, in the cloud, that God spoke to Moses.
In the past four years, I, too, have entered into a black, terrifying cloud. My husband’s sudden, unexpected death; my father’s death three years later; my diagnosis of cancer and the subsequent surgery and follow-up treatments have been personal storms as fiercely threatening as the storm that has now broken upon all of us. But there was a silver lining to the black cloud in my life because it was in the cloud where I encountered God in a fresh way.
I have “seen” His glory…His character…in the dark cloud. I have experienced God’s faithfulness to meet my needs, His grace to pour out His blessings through family and friends, His strength to enable me to endure triumphantly, and His goodness to bring me through one day at a time.
Throughout the four stormy years, I never once lost my joy, or my inner peace, or the steadfast hope that God was in control and would work out all things for my good.
During this time, God spoke to me through His Word: Anne, even though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you will fear no evil; for I am with you. (Psalm 23:4)
In addition to claiming the above promise, is it also time for us to give serious attention to what God has to say? This is His message: When I shut up the heavens so there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land, or send a plague among My people, if My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayers offered…(2 Chronicles 7:13-15)
It’s time to pray! It’s time to turn to God in faith and trust. Now. Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and He relents from sending calamity…
Join me in prayer…
Lord God, as we turn to you, and place our trust in you, please have mercy on us! Hear our prayer. Forgive our sin. Heal our land.
As we repent of our sin and return to You, return to us! There is no one like You to help the powerless against this mighty disease. Help us, O Lord our God, for we rely on You and in Your name we come against this vast, invisible enemy.
We pray in the name of the One who is the living proof that You truly care about us…Jesus.