Tuesday, April 28, 2020

What does a pandmic mean

In the past, even long after the Biblical record, plagues, pestilence, and pandemics would be seen as either sent by God or allowed by Him for a purpose.  In a general sense, the affliction would be a call to repentance.  In a specific sense, it may have meaning for courses of action that might need to be changed -- wars that need to be ended or cultural excesses that need to be reined in.  Not so much today.  We are people of science and reason and try our hardest to remove God from life.  Plagues, pestilence, and pandemics have causes that can be explained.  God is not in the equation.  As Andrew Cuomo famously put it, “Our behavior has stopped the spread of the virus. God did not stop the spread of the virus. . . The number is down because we brought the number down. God did not do that. Fate did not do that. Destiny did not do that. A lot of pain and suffering did that.”  But that does not answer the question of who started it?  Perhaps Cuomo would be as willing to admit that we started it as well.  You will have to ask him.

The prayers of old were not so reticent to admit that plagues, pestilence, and pandemics had meaning.  They understood that even in God's permissive will there was a divine component when affliction was visited upon the earth.  We have, perhaps, softened those prayers of old because our ears are not so tuned to calls of repentance occasioned by suffering and pain.  Listen to prayers of another time.  Can we learn to pray them again?  Can we hear the call to repentance and rejoice in the God who loves us and seeks not our death but our eternal life?  Can we look for meaning instead of blame and survey our lives in time of threat -- all to be drawn even closer into the arms of Him who suffered that we might be delivered?  These times test our faith as Christians and call us to remember first what we learned first about God -- Jesus loves us, this we know.  I am no sage to divide space and time to find hidden meanings but one does not have to be wise beyond his years to see that when it appears everything is changing, we must cling to the arms of Him whose love does not change.  Can we learn to pray the old prayers again and sing the great hymns of comfort?  Can we say Thy will be done without resignation and confidence that God's will is good and gracious?

O gracious God, merciful Lord, You have turned away from us in Your furious anger over our sins and threatened and exceedingly afflicted us all our life with anguish and sorrow, hell and eternal death.  Now therefore, dear Father, relent, turn to us again, listen to our plea, and be gracious to Your servants!  Satisfy us early with Your grace, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.  Amen.

Almighty, everlasting God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Lord of heaven and earth: we poor, miserable sinners must confess that we have most dreadfully angered You, O God, with our sinful life and being, wherefore You justly pour out Your wrath upon us and attack us with various plagues, epidemics, and diseases.  What then should we do?  Should we despair?  Far be it!  We know that we deserve not only the epidemic which now rages as a punishment for our manifold sins, but even greater and more heinous plagues than this.  Where then shall we flee, and where shall we turn, that we may be safe from this and other plagues and pandemics?  To You alone, Lord Jesus Christ.  We have no other comfort either in heaven or on earth except You, who have redeemed us.  Surely You will not cast off Your creation; therefore we humbly call, sigh, and cry out to You with our whole heart, saying, "God be merciful unto us and blot out all our sins according to Your exceeding great grace, goodness, and mercy!"  Case from Your displeasure, wrath, and indignation toward us.  Show us again You grace, and spare us from the epidemic and abominable sickness which now rages.  Listen to our pleas, O Lord; listen to our please and spare us.  Kindly protect and shelter us, that this epidemic may not hurt or come near us nor seize or take us away.  But if it be Your divine will that we should end our life in this epidemic and depart this world, Your gracious will be done, for it is always the best.  Hereupon we commend ourselves, our body and soul, wife and child, and all our household, into Your divine grace and fatherly hand, humbly beseeching from our heart that, if we should meet our final hour unexpectedly, and even now approach the time when our body and soul must be separate, You would mercifully preserve our faculty of reason, that we may be able with a clear mind to commend our soul to You.  And grant us further a blessed end, that we, passing through temporal death, which is the end of all sorrow and misery and opens to us the door of eternal life, may the more speedily enter into the same eternal life and come to our Redeemer and Savior, and with all the elect of God in heaven eternally rejoice.  Amen.

Or sing some of the great hymn stanzas of old.

1 What God ordains is always good:
    His will is just and holy.
As He directs my life for me,
    I follow meek and lowly.
        My God indeed
        In ev’ry need
Knows well how He will shield me;
To Him, then, I will yield me.

2 What God ordains is always good:
    He never will deceive me;
He leads me in His righteous way,
    And never will He leave me.
        I take content
        What He has sent;
His hand that sends me sadness
Will turn my tears to gladness.

3 What God ordains is always good:
    His loving thought attends me;
No poison can be in the cup
    That my physician sends me.
        My God is true;
        Each morning new
I trust His grace unending,
My life to Him commending.

4 What God ordains is always good:
    He is my friend and Father;
He suffers naught to do me harm
    Though many storms may gather.
        Now I may know
        Both joy and woe;
Someday I shall see clearly
That He has loved me dearly.

5 What God ordains is always good:
    Though I the cup am drinking
Which savors now of bitterness,
    I take it without shrinking.
        For after grief
        God gives relief,
My heart with comfort filling
And all my sorrow stilling.

6 What God ordains is always good:
    This truth remains unshaken.
Though sorrow, need, or death be mine,
    I shall not be forsaken.
        I fear no harm,
        For with His arm
He shall embrace and shield me;
So to my God I yield me.


1 Why should cross and trial grieve me?
Christ is near With His cheer;
Never will He leave me.
Who can rob me of the heaven
That God's Son For my own
To my faith hath given?

2 Though a heavy cross I'm bearing
And my heart Feels the smart,
Shall I be despairing?
God, my Helper, who doth send it,
Well doth know All my woe
And how best to end it.

3 God oft gives me days of gladness;
Shall I grieve If He give
Seasons, too, of sadness?
God is good and tempers ever
All my ill, And He will
Wholly leave me never.

4 Hopeful, cheerful, and undaunted
Ev'rywhere They appear
Who in Christ are planted.
Death itself cannot appal them,
They rejoice When the voice
Of their Lord doth call them.

5 Death cannot destroy forever;
From our fears, Cares, and tears
It will us deliver.
It will close life's mournful story,
Make a way That we may
Enter heavenly glory.

6 What is all this life possesses?
But a hand Full of sand
That the heart distresses.
Noble gifts that pall me never
Christ, our Lord, Will accord
To His saints forever.

7 Lord, my Shepherd, take me to Thee.
Thou art mine; I was Thine,
Even e'er I knew Thee.
I am Thine, for Thou hast bought me;
Lost I stood, But Thy blood
Free salvation brought me.

8 Thou art mine; I love and own Thee.
Light of Joy, Ne'er shall I
From my heart dethrone Thee.
Savior, let me soon behold Thee
Face to face - May Thy grace
Evermore enfold me!


1 Lord, it belongs not to my care
    Whether I die or live;
To love and serve Thee is my share,
    And this Thy grace must give.

2 If life be long, I will be glad
    That I may long obey;
If short, yet why should I be sad
    To soar to endless day?

3 Christ leads me through no darker rooms
    Than He went through before;
He that unto God’s kingdom comes
    Must enter by this door.

4 Come, Lord, when grace has made me meet
    Thy bless├Ęd face to see;
For if Thy work on earth be sweet,
    What will Thy glory be!

5 Then shall I end my sad complaints
    And weary, sinful days
And join with the triumphant saints
    Who sing my Savior’s praise.

6 My knowledge of that life is small,
    The eye of faith is dim;
But ’tis enough that Christ knows all,
    And I shall be with Him.


John Joseph Flanagan said...

I believe the worldwide pandemic is God'judgment on an increasingly wicked world, and a reminder to Christians who have left their first love, the Lord and His word. I also believe it is the beginning of even worse things to come. Our faith is to be tested by fire, and we all need to purge our lives of useless things and turn back to the Lord, and forsake the idols of self, pride, and useless things of this life.

Janis Williams said...

Two hymns we should all print off our computers (or better, hand-write), and read every morning, especially during our exile!

Carl Vehse said...

In the 16th century, comets were considered to be a sign of God's wrath on a wicked world and used as a call for repentance.