Draw near to Him;
and He will draw near to you.
Finding Jesus During a Pandemic – By Dean Marini
In the seventh chapter of the Book of Matthew, Jesus is immersed in His most famous and powerful message on Earth, The Sermon on the Mount. It has inspired millions of sermons, songs, quotations and literature since it was first given 2,000 years ago. Verse seven is certainly one of the more heavily used passages from that message: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” I have seen that versed used in thousands of contexts, yet it speaks to me in a new and fresh way as I write this today.
Ever since this pandemic began, I like so many others have been on a roller coaster ride of thoughts and feelings about the situation. Having a decade of experience training Marines in nuclear, biological and chemical warfare, I know quite a bit about how pathogens are transmitted as well as contamination and decontamination. That knowledge has proved useful but also frustrating at times. While I’ve struggled with some of the mandates and precautions I’ve been ordered to take, I also did not want to contract the virus or more importantly, transmit it to anyone else.
Months of caution and adherence have come to a sudden stop. I’m writing this article from quarantine as I await test results after being in direct contact with some friends and family who came down with the virus. As I battle against frustration, resentment, boredom, and anxiety, I keep asking myself and God, “Why?” Why did this happen? Why haven’t my prayers for the people I came in contact with been answered the way I wanted? And, “God, what possible good are You getting out of this?”
As Jesus promised in Matthew 7:7 and Psalm 34:4: I sought the LORD, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears. God has shown me so many things. He’s given me a greater empathy for those who have or are suffering with this virus. He’s reinvigorated my prayers for heath care workers protection and the direction of those in authority making incredibly difficult decisions.
The lessons I’ve learned while isolating myself have blessed me with a new understanding of the lives Jesus delivered afflicted with leprosy. I’ve gained a greater perspective on the deliverance He has blessed me with by the forgiveness of my sins. He’s allowed this time for me, someone who drives himself way too hard, to get some rest, rely on others, and allow the people I work with to show support and kindness. That is a difficult thing for me to do! But I have come to understand that one of the greatest ways we can show the heart of Jesus to others is to accept their kindness and generosity.
I can also testify to the amazing power of this website, Psalm 91, to bring hope, help and ministry when needed. The articles, verses of the day, scripture passages and prayers have nourished my soul as I’ve forged ahead through this difficult journey. God has inspired the writers with words that seem to be written as a private messages just for me. He’s also directed my own Bible Study to passages that I’ve needed now.
My mother was also exposed to the same group of people I was. Over the course of this pandemic, one of my greatest concerns has been for her not to fall victim to the virus. As I’ve prayed fervently, it’s been difficult not to have my faith shaken when others I’ve prayed for have tested positive. This morning during my devotionals the verse Psalm 146:9 appeared: “The LORD watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked. Less than an hour after reading this verse, my mother, a widow … making me “fatherless,” received her test results. She was negative for Covid-19. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
There’s an old hymn — ‘While I may not know the future, I know who holds my hand. I know just a sure as I’m writing this; I’m a part of His almighty plan.’ Romans 8:28 tells us: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. God is our loving Father who knows how to provide for His children. He is the Good Shepherd that knows how to care for His flock. James 4:8 assures us of God’s desire to be found by those who earnestly seek Him: “Come near to God and He will come near to you.”
The next time you find yourself in uncertain times, meditate on the verses herein. Pray and seek God daily … trust Him. And as we continue to battle this virus, follow the direction from James and draw near to Him.
Written by Dean Marini