A new article from the Wall Street Journal titled “A Coronavirus Great Awakening” asks if a plague of biblical proportions could be America’s best hope for religious revival. It explores how spiritual renewal can come from a great cataclysmic event. There is no denying that this global pandemic is bringing people closer to Christ and to their faith communities in ways they may have never connected before. It is also provides an incredible opportunity to serve our world and our Lord in these critical days.
Many churches are connecting under coronavirus self-quarantine by taking their services online. This is encouraging churches to connect in new ways. Congregations are staying connected virtually – many are using Facebook live and Zoom, a remote video conferencing service to continue to see familiar faces and remain connected.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Kerry Morrison talked about how their church was doing their best to re-create the familiar, comforting rituals of their regular gatherings, including using makeshift elements they’d scrounged from their cupboard when it came time for Communion, including banana bread and lemonade in place of Communion wafer and wine. While the service structure may not be traditional or ideal, it is becoming a lifeline during a lonely and isolating time.
“It seemed like one of the most intimate worship experiences I have been involved in,” Morrison told the LA Times. “We all sense that we are going through something that is globally profound.”
There are also those who are connecting to a church for the first time through Facebook and other social media live streams. Many churches are seeing their social media presence grow as more people are tuning into online services than ever before.
In addition to allowing people to connect virtually in new ways, this time is offering an unprecedented opportunity for spiritual awakening to serve our world. Could God be using this medical outbreak to spark a global spiritual outbreak? God may be calling us to the front lines of this spiritual battle.
More and more people are seeking God right now. In The Daily Article podcast, Dr. Jim Denison shares that the global pandemic is sparking global interest in the good news of God’s love. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Global Media Outreach has gone from reaching 350,000 people per day to upwards of 500,000 globally. A GMO leader told the Christian Post, “People are coming to us saying, ‘I need hope. Where can I find hope in the face of tragedy, anxiety, bankruptcy?'” He added, “When people are in pain, we offer encouragement and hope. They’re coming to us looking for answers.”
Having hope is so important, especially in times of crisis. We can find hope in Scripture. The book of Lamentations gives us a great example of a worshiper who experienced pain and yet used the act of remembering as a pathway to praise Him. Lamentations 3:20-21 says, “I will remember them, and my soul downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope” (NIV). The Message words it, “I remember it all…the feeling of hitting rock bottom. But there’s one other thing I remember, and remembering, I keep of gripping on hope.” The discipline of remembering helps us keep a grip on hope. It builds our faith and helps us find our way on the paths of praise. The psalmists constantly practiced this discipline.
The writer in so many of the psalms points to God’s faithfulness as a bridge towards worship and hope. Psalm 13 starts with a desperate cry but ends with a reminder of God’s track record in his life: “How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will you hide Your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?” (Psalm 13:1-2). The psalmist presents urgent questions from a worshiper longing to be free from suffering. Yet his song ends with his choice to believe and trust in God’s unfailing mercy: “But I trust in Your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in Your salvation. I will sing the LORD’s praise, for He has been good to me” (Psalm 13:5-6). It is hear that we can learn a beautiful truth: We can find hope through the LORD.
As we continue to see the numbers of infected people increasing and the death toll rising, we are also aware of God’s presence, particularly through the work of those on the front lines. We recognize that in times of anguish, God is closer and more at work than we know or realize. The Bible says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we shared abundantly in Christ’s suffering, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for Your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for Your comfort, which You experience when You patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for You is unshaken, for we know that as You share in our sufferings, You will also share in our comforts” (2 Corinthians 1:3-8). Even in our pain and our suffering, we cry out, “Blessed be Your name” and we begin to see how God has been working through our lives during our times of struggle.
For those who are looking for God right now, it’s important to believe that God is speaking to us and interceding, even in these dark moments. Through Christ, and the power of His Holy Spirit, God wants to speak to you one a one-on-one basis, every day. If you believe that God doesn’t want to speak to you, it’s likely you won’t be able to hear His voice. However, when you receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit whom Jesus promised to send us, hearing God’s voice becomes a natural way of life. The Bible tells us the Father will give His Spirit to all who seek (Luke 11:13). The Holy Spirit will help you understand the Bible so you will know how to apply its wisdom to your life. As Christians, we each have the ability to hear from God and be led by the Holy Spirit daily.
One unexpected thing that could come out of the pandemic is millions of people finding Christ and hope in Him. While we are living in dark, difficult times, we are still seeing God at work. People are seeking answers and finding them in Christ.