How does God want you to think and react during this time of pandemic? I can tell you He wants you to have hope. God wants you to use this crisis to draw closer to Him and to plan for your future. There is a future!
People around the world are quarantined because of the Covid-19 virus. Most likely you are taking precautions as I write. We are experiencing a situation that just a few days ago was unthinkable. With nations shutting down around the globe, closing their borders, seeing stock markets wildly fluctuate because of business uncertainty, we are all having to get used to a crisis moment unlike anything in our living memory.
Use this time to draw closer to God and learn more about His purpose and plan. God is working in the midst of this time. Make God your strength, be filled with hope and keep your eyes on the future.
I think about the weddings that were planned and now will have to become small intimate occasions—with a couple and just a handful of people. Wedding anniversaries are altered. My plans to take my wife out to dinner for her birthday are changed. I will save a few dollars there! She even told me today not to venture out and buy her a card. I’ll have to get creative there.
I have had conferences and travel cancelled. I am holding out hope that a mid-summer trip I have planned for months can still occur. I look long-term into the fall season and wonder if another planned trip to California will take place. There is some solace in the truth that all of us are in the same boat. I tell myself we will get through this time. I know we will get through this and I fully expect a rebound from the economic crisis. We will see disruption and there will be pain. But we all have a future, and while we work through this still developing crisis, now is the time to begin thinking and planning for your future.
This morning I thought about a story of hope from the life of Jeremiah.
Jeremiah the prophet was caught in a crisis moment in his life and the life of his nation, Judah. The king of Babylon had his army surrounding Jeremiah’s Jerusalem. The people were quarantined and the city was about to fall. Jeremiah had been thrown into prison because his message was unpopular with King Zedekiah (Jeremiah 32:1-5 Jeremiah 32:1-5  The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD in the tenth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, which was the eighteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar.
 For then the king of Babylon’s army besieged Jerusalem: and Jeremiah the prophet was shut up in the court of the prison, which was in the king of Judah’s house.
 For Zedekiah king of Judah had shut him up, saying, Why do you prophesy, and say, Thus said the LORD, Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall take it;
 And Zedekiah king of Judah shall not escape out of the hand of the Chaldeans, but shall surely be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon, and shall speak with him mouth to mouth, and his eyes shall behold his eyes;
 And he shall lead Zedekiah to Babylon, and there shall he be until I visit him, said the LORD: though you fight with the Chaldeans, you shall not prosper.
American King James Version×).
God told Jeremiah that he would be visited by his cousin Hanamel with an offer for Jeremiah to buy a piece of property in their hometown of Anathoth. Now consider this: the entire nation was on the verge of collapse into the hands of the vicious Babylonians. Panic and fear was everywhere. Food and commodities were scarce and prices were plummeting. What future would there be to expect a return on investment in farming or commercial property? There would be no cattle to plow the field and the seed stores were depleted, as famine had hit the land. And who knew whether there would ever be a nation of Judah again? What kind of future lay ahead? Jeremiah may have thought he would die in prison or during the siege of the city.
What would you have thought and done had you been in Jeremiah’s place?
If we are not careful, today we too can find ourselves thinking there is no future out of our time of pandemic. As we watch businesses close, people (maybe even you?) lose jobs, and hear the gloom of rising numbers of infections and deaths, it would be very easy to slip into a mood that wonders what the future will be.
So what did Jeremiah do?
He bought the field. He counted out the money to his cousin. Together they signed the purchase agreement. Jeremiah told his servant Baruch to take the deed and have the transaction witnessed by others, sealed and placed for safe keeping in a clay vessel that it would “last many days.” “For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘Houses and fields and vineyards shall be possessed again in this land’” (Jeremiah 32:9-15 Jeremiah 32:9-15  And I bought the field of Hanameel my uncle’s son, that was in Anathoth, and weighed him the money, even seventeen shekels of silver.
 And I subscribed the evidence, and sealed it, and took witnesses, and weighed him the money in the balances.
 So I took the evidence of the purchase, both that which was sealed according to the law and custom, and that which was open:
 And I gave the evidence of the purchase to Baruch the son of Neriah, the son of Maaseiah, in the sight of Hanameel my uncle’s son, and in the presence of the witnesses that subscribed the book of the purchase, before all the Jews that sat in the court of the prison.
 And I charged Baruch before them, saying,
 Thus said the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Take these evidences, this evidence of the purchase, both which is sealed, and this evidence which is open; and put them in an earthen vessel, that they may continue many days.
 For thus said the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Houses and fields and vineyards shall be possessed again in this land.
American King James Version×).
Jeremiah’s purchase of real estate in a declining market was an act of faith and hope. He did it not as a speculator but as a servant of God, knowing that God was not finished with His people. Jeremiah knew God would one day bring the Jews back to the land and they would rebuild Jerusalem. He knew what God later said would happen: “For thus says the Lord, Just as I have brought all this great calamity on this people, so I will bring on them all the good that I have promised them. And fields will be bought in this land…Men will buy fields for money, sign deeds and seal them, and take witnesses in the land of Benjamin, in the places around Jerusalem, in the cities of Judah, in the cities of the mountains, in the cities of the lowland, and in the cities of the South; for I will cause their captives to return, says the Lord” (Jeremiah 32:42-44 Jeremiah 32:42-44  For thus said the LORD; Like as I have brought all this great evil on this people, so will I bring on them all the good that I have promised them.
 And fields shall be bought in this land, whereof you say, It is desolate without man or beast; it is given into the hand of the Chaldeans.
 Men shall buy fields for money, and subscribe evidences, and seal them, and take witnesses in the land of Benjamin, and in the places about Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, and in the cities of the mountains, and in the cities of the valley, and in the cities of the south: for I will cause their captivity to return, said the LORD.
American King James Version×).
This is the kind of hope and faith we need during our time of trial and testing with this global pandemic. Look to the future knowing we will get through this period. While your plans have been changed, you will make new plans for trips, reunions and family gatherings. You will go back to work. The stores will be stocked and there will be no more panic buying. Sports will resume and schools will reopen. You will celebrate the graduation of your niece or grandson. You will do all this and appreciate it even more.
Use this time to draw closer to God and learn more about His purpose and plan. God is working in the midst of this time. He stands among the nations in this moment and He looks and takes the measure of the earth. Make God your strength, be filled with hope and keep your eyes on the future.