In This Together: The Unifying Effect of Crises

What would it look like if our fears and anxieties turned into compassionate intercession? A unifying identification with brothers and sisters around the world? 

So here we are . . . all at varying phases of this global crisis. In Memphis, we are nearing the end of our fourth week of social distancing/safer at home, while China is just now emerging from months of lockdown. When else has the whole world collectively and simultaneously felt the weight of loss and threat of death so suddenly and heavily as in these past months? 

This pandemic does not discriminate and is no respecter of persons. Men and women around the world share similar fears and concerns. A beauty I see in this tragedy is that we have the opportunity to let the effects of this crisis connect us to all of humanity, laying aside the divisions of politics, economics, education, culture, language, and country.

All of us have lain in our beds with similar thoughts creeping into our minds of “Will we make it?” or “How will I protect/provide for my family? Will I lose my home? Will I lose my loved ones? What if I am carrying the virus and have infected people unknowingly? Will I survive if I get covid-19? What if these are my last days/weeks on this earth?” Know that today, right now, billions across the globe are plagued with these same questions among others. 

My encouragement is that as you are honest to name the emotional, relational, provisional, safety and spiritual fears and challenges that you and your loved ones are facing . . . let the intensity of those emotions lead you to identifying with brothers and sisters the globe over. Just as you are concerned for your elderly parents, so are they. Just as you wonder how you will provide food and all that your family needs, so are they. Just as you’ve lost your job, millions across the globe have as well . . . and some of them with no savings account to fall back on because their survival depended on daily wages.

The reality is that the primary audience that will read this blog post, come from great privilege compared to the rest of the world. And that is a tough reality to stomach as we see this virus ravage our planet. Lord, help us to steward this for your glory and the good of others. I, like most of you, have the luxury of stocking my fridge, having separate bedrooms to quarantine in if a family member gets sick, a never ending supply of clean, running water to wash our hands with, and even new regulations that don’t allow my landlord to evict me if we can’t make rent or mortgage payments. 

But I humbly propose that our very fears, concerns, pressures, losses, grief, and anxieties are the very soil that allow us to identify in completely new ways with our brothers and sisters across the globe. We can’t deny that our collective national wealth, opportunities, and resources find us navigating different experiences to the same threat. But maybe, just maybe . . . there is an amazing opportunity in the stripping away of so many securities, constants, and idols. An invitation to begin identifying with those whose lives and daily experiences are constantly plagued (not just with the advent of covid-19) with illnesses, needs, threats, insecurities, emotions, uncertainty, and concerns that you may be feeling at this level for the first time. 

What would it look like if our fears and anxieties turned into compassionate intercession? A unifying identification with brothers and sisters around the world? 

In lockdown, we can do something and it is not a lesser option. Let your fear turn to faith and your concern drive you to Jesus’ presence and conversation with Him. In quarantine, the one place we have total freedom, access, and liberty to go to is the throne room of God!! (Hebrews 10:19-24) May we meet together there, in His presence, as we go about our days. Intercession is not just on our knees, but for those of us who can still go on walks – it is as while see and taste that beauty and freedom, that we can pray for others to have it soon; as we wash our dishes with clean water – we pray for those who don’t have it; as we prepare a meal – we pray for the Lord to provide for others and are open to ways He might nudge us to help be a part of the solution; if we are so blessed to have our loved ones around our table – we weep with and pray for those who are alone or who now have an empty chair at their table. Let us partner with Him and our brothers and sisters who also are interceding around the world, and together let us depend on Him for salvation, miracles, creativity, healing, repentance, provision, comfort, and strength for each other.

There is yet another reality that unites us with the world. One other pandemic of which no one is exempt: that of sin and rebellion within our souls (Romans 3:23). Let us be quick to release and surrender our hold on that which God has stripped away and in the subsequent clarity and exposure of our need for Him that it brings, may we find ourselves once again in repentance and worship at the foot of the cross . . . the great equalizer.

In the unifying threats and effects of this pandemic, may we also find unity of faith in the reality of Easter. This week we are remembering the one death that transformed human history. We worship and celebrate that our faith is in a God who entered into our pain and darkness and bore our sin and death to then offer us life and life abundantly (Philippians 2, John 10:10). He is Emmanuel – God with us. 

What a sweet opportunity we have in this season to follow Jesus’ steps and identify with and meet our local and global brothers and sisters in their tragedy, crisis, and loss. We meet together this week not just at the foot of the cross, but also at the door of the empty tomb.  Let us focus and despair not on the apparently hopeless situation around us but together, let us anchor ourselves once again in Him who is our Resurrection and our Life, our living hope, and pray for God to reveal His glory.  

The reality is that not all has been taken away. If anything, what we have that cannot be taken away, has come into greater focus. May we remember who we are, whose we are, and the family we belong to – one that spans history and the globe! (Hebrews 11-12) We are in this together! 

Let us join arms and join the ranks of those who currently live, and formerly lived and “died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared for them a city.” (Hebrews 11:13-16)

 

Betsy

 

 

Suggestions on how to compassionately connect with and intercede for the world: 

  • Download and use daily prayer guides by nation: Operation World app & Joshua Project app
  • Watch Prayercast videos by country
  • Learn some of the unique challenges other countries are facing by checking an international news outlet/source like BBC
  • Connect with or reach out to your international friends
    • ask them how this is impacting their family and country
    • pray with them and then for them
  • Pray for the cross-cultural ministers and global workers (among your friends, or sent from your church) who are currently overseas, for those who were preparing to go, and for those who came back suddenly with very little to no closure and feel the weight of the impact on dear friends in the countries they love and had to leave
  • If you’ve been on a missions trip before . . .
    • spend time remembering the faces of people you met (maybe pull up those photos on your phone/album!), those towns/cities, the challenges they already faced, and now how this pandemic might be affecting them
    • if you are connected with them through social media, send them a message, ask how they are doing and how you can be praying for them, and pray for them! Maybe even share a truth that has been comforting to you in this time and ask them how God has been sustaining them.
    • think especially of the national leaders of churches, ministries, and schools that hosted you – pray for them and their families. Think of the thousands of micro-decisions your mind has been flooded with in this crisis – and let some of that pressure lead you to consider the challenges they must be navigating as they seek to shepherd their schools, churches, ministries, etc.
  • When you pray for your family member or a friend who is in need, has suffered great loss, or is sick in the hospital, pray also for those whose names you don’t know in Indonesia, Spain, India, and elsewhere who have the same need. 
  • Order a map puzzle do to with your family, pull out the globe, put a map on the wall where you do family devos, or print out a coloring sheet of world map
    • pray over the different countries as you are assembling it, coloring it or look at it