Christianity

A Christian response to Coronavirus

The news about coronavirus is all over the media and is heard in almost every conversation. This is a very unusual situation and we can choose to respond in one of two ways; with fear or with faith.

It is very interesting to see how people around the world are reacting differently. Some people are reacting by panic buying (and emptying the shelves) while others seem to be almost indifferent. For me, the question is, how should we, as believers, respond?

First of all, our thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by this sickness; individuals, families, health services and communities as well as national leaders and governments. How they all need God’s wisdom and guidance as they deal with this situation. And for us as a nation, where do we find healing when every day, the news seems to grow even more serious?

Well, for me personally, my only advice is to stand firmly upon God’s Word, for that is where I find my comfort and strength. God’s Word has been the anchor for my own family in very desperate times and it is the one thing that we can ALWAYS rely on. God’s Word never changes and it contains all we need for hope, comfort, healing, wisdom and guidance.

If you are fearful, grieving or broken today, let the truth of God’s Word sink into your heart.

But you may say, ‘what if we can’t stop this virus?’ What if it becomes widespread in the United Kingdom or wherever I live, as some experts predict?

Well let’s stand firm upon his Word! Psalm 112:6-8 is a great encouraging reminder as to what our response should be. It says, “For the righteous will never be moved, he will be remembered forever, he is not afraid of bad news, his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord, his heart is steady, he will not be afraid”.

We all have to face bad news at some point in our life. If it’s not the virus, it will be something else. Let’s remind ourselves that we live in a fallen and broken world where suffering and even death are inevitable. To deny this truth would be lying to ourselves, but we as Christians do not need to fear bad news. It is important to not be in denial and as a nation, we should take all sensible precautions, but we do not need to be crippled by the fear of what ‘might happen’. The psalmist demonstrates that it is possible to look bad news right in the face and say, “You will NOT rule my heart.” Our emotions may sway, but we will not be blown off course.

You might think that is easy for me to write, but practically, how can we rise above the circumstances when we are surrounded by fear?

Well, here are some practical responses;

Prayer

Pray in FAITH. Remember faith is not denying fear but mastering it. What you fear the most, reveals where you trust God the least. Therefore put your faith in God and watch as He starts to eradicate your fears. “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer… believe that you have received it… and it will be yours.” Mark 11:24

Prepare

Prepare WISELY. Don’t deny the facts but plan wisely and let’s be aware of Paul’s words in Ephesians 6:12, KJV: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities,against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” And the preceding verse tells us to be well prepared to “Put on the whole armour of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”

Proclaim

Proclaim HOPE. In this world of uncertainty, we can have great confidence as we hold on to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. And it enables us to ‘Rejoice in hope…be patient in tribulation… continue steadfastly in prayer’ (Romans 12).

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

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God will get you through it…

I would like to tell you about my grandson Emile. Emile is 8 years old and is so loving and caring (especially with his new baby sister) and I believe God has a great purpose for his life.

My daughter Natalie had a normal pregnancy with Emile and as a family we had no idea there was anything wrong. Emile surprised everyone by arriving two months early and at first the doctor thought he might have a blockage in one of the tubes leading to his stomach.

However, as the doctors did many more investigations, they discovered that Emile actually had Vacterl Syndrome, a genetic condition which affects multiple areas of the body. Emile had a hole in his heart, problems with his spine, his oesophagus was fused to his lung (instead of his stomach) and he had only one kidney. In addition, he had a problem with the thumb on his hand and one of his eyes remained shut, as there was no nerve in the eyelid.


At the beginning of his journey, when we were first told of Emile’s diagnosis, our family was devastated. Having lost a child of our own, my wife Jackie and I did not want to see Natalie and Antoine go through a similar heartache. I remember spending a lot of time with God and I felt Him tell me clearly that He would not lift us out of the situation, but He would lead us through it. All around the world, other ministries and friends were praying for Emile and his parents and we felt so lifted by their prayers, knowing that we were not alone.

Emile was finally released from hospital and Natalie and Antoine had a wonderful first day as a family at home with him. For the first time, they felt like real parents but that evening, Emile choked and had to be resuscitated and rushed back to hospital. It felt as though we were facing yet another setback, and yet through it all, we sensed that victory was coming. 

Emile remained in hospital till he was four months old and had many operations during that time and over the following years.


The doctors said that Emile would probably never sit unaided, and if he did, he would probably never stand. And if he was ever able to stand, he would never be able to walk or run. And yet, Emile has done all of those things and much more. 

We wondered if he would ever be able to eat normally. At the time he had a button fitted in his stomach to allow tube feeding. When he was five years old, Emile started to eat and finally this year he had his button removed, as he is now eating enough on his own. I remember the weekend that Emile came to stay with us and ate a whole plate of spaghetti. For Jackie and I, it was an incredible event and even now when I sit at the table and see him eat, there is a silent cry of thanks that wells up inside me. Thank you God, thank you Father for ALL you have done in his life.

God has been so faithful and although Emile faces many challenges, we know that God has been true to His word when He said he would not take us out of the situation, but He would lead us through it.  

Did I ever doubt? I can honestly say I do not think I did. However, there have been times that have been overwhelming. Seeing someone you love in so much pain is devastating and stressful and yet even through pain, God has been there.  

On one occasion I felt God tell me to ‘talk to the mountain’ and so sitting with Emile as he was in his hospital bed, I asked if he could feel any pain. He said yes and I told him that in Jesus’ name, he could tell the pain to go. As we prayed and Emile told the pain to leave his body, I wish I could have taken a photograph, as a huge smile lit up his face. Even now, several years later, our daughter tells us that Emile will shout out, ‘Pain, go, in Jesus name!’

His simple faith has been such a blessing to us and God has spoken to us so many times.

On another occasion, I was with Emile at a physiotherapy appointment, to help correct a malformation in his thumb. The physiotherapist explained that in order to get the thumb into the right position, they would need to ‘stretch and pull’. This would be a repeated process until eventually the thumb stayed in a more natural position. It would not be pleasant but as the physiotherapist explained, ‘when the thumb stays in the right position, we will know we have won’.  

It spoke to me so clearly of how God works in our lives. Sometimes our lives and purposes need to be realigned and we need divine physiotherapy to put us into the right position. It is rarely a pleasant experience, but God uses this stretching and pulling, to shape us into the people he wants us to be.

Today, as we look back on all God has done in Emile’s life so far, we are overwhelmed and so very grateful. There is much physical healing still to be done in Emile’s life, but we know that the God who has brought us this far, will continue to see us through.  

     

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A God of miracles: Sarah’s story

In the blog last week,  I wrote about learning to listen for God’s voice.  I believe that when God speaks to us, we know, that we know, that we know,  that it is His voice. Some years ago, I felt very strongly compelled to go and pray for a friend’s daughter who was very sick.

Michelina and Nigel are friends from church and their baby daughter Sarah was critically ill in hospital.  I have asked Michelina to tell the story from her perspective.


Michelina writes…

It was January 1988 and one morning, I became aware that our 10 month old daughter Sarah didn’t seem like herself.  She had a small sore on her ear and she was lying like a little rag doll, with no energy or interest in what was happening around her.  I rang for the doctor who said she had a virus, but when she was no better the following day, we rang the doctor again.  This time, she was admitted to hospital and that’s when we realised how seriously ill she really was.

sarahasababy
Sarah, as a baby

I remember standing by her bed and several doctors asked us to step back, as Sarah started to convulse.  I have never felt so helpless in all my life, watching my baby so ill and not being able to do anything to help her.   The doctors did not know what was wrong with her, but they told us it was likely she had a very serious virus.  In my helplessness, I was crying out to the Lord, ‘Lord, Lord, help her….please help her’.  It was like our whole world had stopped.    I remember also praying, ‘Lord, if you’re going to take her, please take her…but if you’re going to restore her to us, please let her be whole and healthy.’  I asked God to give me a sign, that if she was going to be well, she would sit up.   If I saw that, I would know that God would heal her.

Over the next few hours, the doctors were able to settle Sarah down and a prayer chain was set up, so that our church could pray.   Over the next few days, Sarah was very sick and was put into isolation while the doctors tried to find out what was wrong.  One day, I was sitting by Sarah’s bed when our friend from church David, suddenly walked in.  I said to him, ‘How did you get in here?  They won’t let anyone but family in?’  David said he had just walked in and was there because he knew God had told him to come.   He laid hands on Sarah, prayed and then left the hospital.

I am not joking when I say that by lunchtime, Sarah had gone from being critically ill, to sitting up.  I had prayed for a sign, and there she was, just as I had prayed, sitting up!  I wanted to take her home right there and then, but the doctors said she was still very sick. I knew in my heart though, that God had heard my prayer.  I knew he was going to heal her.

Sarah then had to endure a painful lumbar puncture.  I had to hold her, while they put a needle into her spine to test her spinal fluid.

We were then given unbelievable news – Sarah had Meningococcal meningitis.

newspaper10 days had passed since she had been admitted and it is almost unheard of for children to fight this strain of meningitis without antibiotics.

In fact, just a few weeks earlier, very sadly a 12 year old boy who lived in the same local area had died from the same illness.    The doctors immediately gave Sarah antibiotics, but they told us they couldn’t believe that she had survived.    I said that we believed in God and we believed that He had healed her.    The doctors told us they didn’t know what had happened, but it was clear something had.    We were told that Sarah might have hearing problems or other development challenges, but I said, ‘no’.  I had prayed that God would restore Sarah completely and I knew He would be faithful to what He had promised.

Sarah was in hospital for a few more days and after two weeks, was allowed home.  Even the local newspapers called her a ‘miracle baby’.

We just knew that God had saved her life.

Today Sarah is 29 years old, she is a teacher, she plays violin, piano and is a mum to two children.  We can only give all the glory to God for what He did in Sarah’s life.  Sarah is literally a miracle and it amazes me to look back and remember all that God has done.

IMG_1654
Sarah and her family now.

(From David)

I wanted to share Sarah’s story as a powerful reminder that we serve a big, miracle-working God.  You might be facing your own ‘Sarah situation’ right now, but can I encourage you to listen for God’s voice, to pray, and to trust God with the outcome.  He says that He will never, ever leave us and He is always faithful to His word.

To God, be all the glory.