The numbers worldwide continue to rise: 181,377 cases, 7119 deaths, 78,085 recoveries. Worldwide reactions are dramatic: airline flights cancelled, large numbers of quarantined populations, countries with closed borders, bans on gatherings over 250 people, schools closed, colleges reverting to online classes, sports leagues cancelled, plummeting stock markets etc. Behold a pandemic! The cause of this chaos is a virus named “SARS-CoV-2” and the disease it causes is called “coronavirus disease 2019” (abbreviated “COVID-19”).
Proverbs 1:32,33—For the turning away of the inexperienced will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them. But whoever listens to me will live securely and be free from the fear of danger.
I heard an excellent message from a pastor recently about not defending ourselves when we are betrayed or attacked. His point was that no matter what we say in defense we cannot undo the damage and we may actually make things worse. If we have done what is right and are slandered, lied about, or smeared unfairly, the best course of action is to continue to live our lives righteously and trust God for the results. If close friends ask what is happening, we may share with them . . . The point is: don’t retaliate, defend, or excuse ourselves.
This is not easy. To hold our peace when warred against is like watching mosquitoes take blood and not swatting them. Why would we do that?
Peggy Joyce Ruth and Angela Ruth Schum wrote stimulating stories to complement their verse by verse analysis of Psalm 91 in their book Psalm 91 God’s Shield of Protection. They also compiled a stirring collection of stories from people who experienced, first-hand God’s protection as a result of claiming passages in Psalm 91—by faith.
It would be interesting to take a poll in order to discover how many of God’s children suspect that He does not hear them when they pray. I would guess the percentage might be fairly high. Personally, I’m convinced that God does listen to us when we pray. He has acted in many instances in direct response to a plea from my heart. I’ve felt His hand on my life protecting me and giving me strength knowing full well that others were praying for me. I’ve seen Him answer my parent’s prayers or other family members with specificity that is thrilling. I’ve watched Him heal suffering people through prayer. I’ve seen Him bestow peace to those in the midst of horrible pain and turmoil. He hears!
Frank Musisi grew up on the island of Ssese on Lake Victoria. Kibile School’s coach would not let him run for the school’s team when he was in fourth grade so he received permission to run for Beta, a smaller rival school. It was a decision the coach would regret because Frank was so fast he ended up winning district competition and defeating the runners from his own school!
Romans 13:14—But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no plans to satisfy the fleshly desires.
In Genesis 19, we read one of the saddest stories in the Bible. Evidently, the behavior of the valley inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah was so awful that the Lord with two angels came down to investigate. Fearfully, Abraham asked Him if He would spare Sodom if He found just ten righteous people there. He was concerned because his nephew Lot lived in the city. The Lord replied, “for the sake of ten I will not destroy it” (18:32).
I received an email that tore my gut in two. A friend from seminary wrote to those on his mailing list. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. He was back in his home city with his children, no longer in the Asian country where God led him and his wife to minister. Their work was vital in a place restricted and fraught with danger. He knew what it meant to serve God through opposition. But he never expected his wife to fall in love with someone she met on the internet. She left her family—devastated. As if confused and heartbroken was not bad enough, his mission organization requested his resignation. Now what does he do? Who can he trust? His children struggle mightily to adjust to a new culture. They wrestle with the reality their mother is living in immorality. He wonders what more could go wrong.
Greg is an avid kayaker. Along with his two sons, they decided to make a trip on the Tennessee River. Together they had a great day paddling until they hit a section where five-foot swells continually pounded them. His boys were in larger kayaks and had little difficulty cutting through the waves. Soon they were far away from Greg. But their dad hit a portion in the middle of the river where he could no longer cut through the waves and he began to take on water. With only a water bottle to bail he continued to sink. Calmly recognizing that his life was in serious danger, he prayed, “God, I need Your help, there is nothing I can do.”
Nigeria is a nation of over 146 million people—the largest populated country in Africa. It comprises more than 250 ethnic groups of which the following are the most populous and politically influential: Hausa and Fulani 29%, Yoruba 21%, Igbo (Ibo) 18%, Ijaw 10%, Kanuri 4%, Ibibio 3.5%, and Tiv 2.5%.* In mass Nigeria is over twice the size of California. The nation is located on the Gulf of Guinea and shares borders with the countries of Benin, Cameroun, Chad and Niger. Our team ministered in the city of Jos which literally means Jesus Our Savior! Jos is part of the Plateau State (Nigeria has 36 states) which sits in the middle of the country.
All of our family met together in northern Idaho to celebrate my parent’s 40th wedding anniversary. One day a bunch of us drove to a remote lake to fish for rainbow and brook trout. The fishing pole one of the grandkids used broke and we could not fix it. But Sandy’s daughter, Kimmy, asked if she could just take some fishing line and with her hook baited with worm toss it out to see what she could catch. She was bored watching an inactive bobber and her idea seemed much more fun.
Vicki and I asked her to walk further down the shoreline so as she thrashed through the water she would not scare away the fish near our lines. Vicki pointed to a good spot for her to throw her line out. We also hinted that it was unlikely she would catch anything because she was too noisy and too close to her bait. We didn’t want her to be discouraged when nothing happened. But Kimmy was quite content to fish her way. Of course, you know what happened. Kimmy caught a brook trout! Go figure.