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  • Sanyade Okoli

Stop! Look! Musings on the coronavirus

As I spend time seeking the Lord concerning this current season where the coronavirus is propelling not just sickness and death but fear, I sense that this episode is meant to forge great change at a personal, community, national and global level. Unfortunately so many people are resisting this loud call for change – both Christians and non-Christians.

More importantly though, I sense that the Lord would have us take time to look for His hand in the midst of all the chaos, pain and discomfort. There is a quiet voice within me whispering in reassuring tones that if we look for Him, look hard for Him, we will find Him again.

As we were entering this new decade (both Hebraic and Gregorian) one word that kept coming to my heart was “alignment”; that we were going into a season that required great alignment with the Father. At this time more than ever, it is important that we do not resist what the Lord is doing. How do we know, however, what the Lord is doing at this time?

As is usually the case, there are as many perspectives on what is going on today as there are people. Undeterred by that fact I shall share what I believe :-).


The Great Revealing

The Good

I believe that at this time the Lord is “revealing” - in both the positive and the negative sense of the word.

He is first and foremost going to use this crisis to reveal His great glory. For anyone who has served the Lord for any period of time you know that there is nothing that the Lord loves more than a good crisis to show off J. With this in mind, it is fair to believe and expect that the bigger the crisis the bigger the manifestation of His glory.

We may not yet be hearing of them but expect miracles everywhere – some of which the Lord will perform through you. Expect miracles of healings, medical breakthroughs, marriage and family reconciliations, divine protection, divine provision, etc. Expect countless miracles and celebrate them when they occur.

I truly believe that in the coming days, weeks and months that the Lord will make His name known in a new and spectacular way on the face of the earth. Look at the manifestation of His glory that has started with nature – clear skies, fresh air, long-disappeared animals returning to their natural habitats – such glory to behold. A gentle reminder that the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.

Now is a good time for God’s people to humble themselves and pray and seek the Lord that He will hear from the heaven and heal our lands (2 Chronicles 7:13 -14).


The Bad

On the other hand, I believe the Lord is also shining a torch on areas we as humanity need to address. He is exposing things that need to be exposed and dealt with. He is exposing the areas of our lives where our roots do not go sufficiently deep in Him such that when the wind blows the tree is uprooted. He is shaking things up in such a way that only the things built on the firm Foundation (capital ‘F’ used deliberately) will remain.

We laugh, but how is it that the thought of spending a sustained period of time with family – spouses, children, parents, siblings – is causing so much consternation? We need to introspect and ask ourselves, “where did it go all wrong and what do I need to do differently?”

It is common knowledge that the early church met in homes; so many scriptures bear witness to this fact. For example, 1 Corinthians 16:19, Romans 16:5, etc. How is it that again there is much consternation when the Lagos State government institutes a ban on the congregating of more than 20 people which affects many religious gatherings? Could it be that a lot of churches have made their “audience” dependent on church leaders instead of pointing the members to God and teaching people how to build a deep and intimate relationship with God? Could it be that the Lord is forcing us to going back to making “the main thing” the main thing? Him!

We have also all been crying about the impact of the coronavirus on local, regional and global economies. Perfectly justified, as we have watched with horror the gyrations of markets and currencies, the closures of business and the retrenchment of staff. The reality is that effects of the coronavirus have been and sadly will continue to be far reaching for an uncertain period of time. It is however at times like this that we know who our true “source” is – Ourselves? Our employers? Our governments? Our God? When it comes down to it, on who or what do we put our trust? As painful as it is, all will be revealed.


The outright ugly and beauty

The most disturbing revelation however has been the conditions of our hearts. The level of selfishness that has been displayed by some people has been staggering. The extent to which fear has gripped our hearts is also telling. The empty shelves in supermarkets across the world has been one evidence of these two ills.

On the other hand, the selflessness displayed by some people has been outstanding – those in the medical profession particularly come to mind. The level of resilience that has been displayed has also been touching to see (e.g. the balcony choirs in Italy). The heart, capable of so much – good and bad.


A Burning Bush Experience

The sense I have deep within me is that in so many ways this a burning bush experience for many (Exodus 3:1-14). Here are a few reasons why.

  • The nature of the virus - highly contagious yet relatively low mortality rate - suggests that, like the burning bush, it is meant to catch our attention but not to consume us.

  • Like the burning bush experience marked the start of a new season in Moses’s life so it will be for so many of us. However for this to happen we must stop, turn aside, look and listen to what the Lord is saying. When did the Lord start speaking to Moses? When He saw Moses coming to take a closer look; that’s when He revealed Himself in the burning bus

  • It’s also a time for us to behold God in all His glory. To recognize that the earth belongs to Him and that we should treat it as holy; His gift to us to be treasured accordingly

  • God may be speaking to some of us, giving direction and clarity regarding what we should be doing at this season. However, like Moses, so many of us are saying, “who am I to do this work You’re asking me to do?” The Lord is saying the same thing to us He said to Moses, “I will be with you....” It is important to remember that whatever God has called us to do, we were never meant to do it alone. His expectation is that we lean on Him and allow the Holy Spirit to lead and direct us. Once we are confident that God is with us and it is His assignment we are undertaking we need not worry about our ability or experience. How worried was Moses when he heard the call? He felt so unprepared and yet look what He accomplished when He allowed Himself to be used by God. May that also be true of us.


So what now?

First and foremost, let us try not to focus on the fire but on the God in the fire. Let’s look at this as a call from the Father to stop and draw nearer and hear what He wants to tell us at this time.

I am not a public health expert (or anything close to that, for that matter) but for me it seems patently obvious that to avoid a spiral of coronavirus in Africa the continent needs to go into lock-down mode now. We have the supreme advantage of seeing what has occurred in Asia and Europe and it would be great folly not to learn from their experiences – both good and bad.

As someone who runs a business and pays salaries I know that a lock-down is “bad for business” but the reality is that a shorter period of lock-down today is far better than trying to “shut the gate after the horse has bolted”.


See the Good in the Bad

Equally, on a spiritual level, this period is not “business as usual” and we shouldn’t treat it as such otherwise we will miss what the Father is doing. From a Christian perspective, I really do not think that a lock-down is as bad as it sounds. Let’s think of it as:

  • A time to reset - time for us all to go back to the centre - God. Spend unrushed time with the Lord seeking His heart for you, your family, your purpose, your community, your nation and your world et al. Take time to come aside each day and seek Him, get direction and then implement accordingly. Let us seek Him whilst He may be found.

  • An opportunity for us to teach our children to stop, look and listen. Hey, we could have family daily devotions; something my family (and I suspect many other Christian families) have struggled to achieve when it’s business as usual.

  • A time for the light of the children of God to shine - in our thoughts, words and deeds. Let’s be very mindful of the fact that how we act each day can either bring glory to God or to Satan. The choice – every minute, every hour and every day – is ours.

In summary, this is a wonderful opportunity to stop and pursue greater intimacy with God and with loved ones. Let’s not waste it! God is gathering and amplifying His remnant. Let’s ensure we align accordingly.


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