Scripture 1: But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness (Hebrews 3:13 NIV)
COVID 19 was first reported on 31st December 2019. But it was until March 2020 that I got to hear about it. This pandemic has resulted in 800k+ deaths and affected millions. Most of us have been affected indirectly, with massive job losses that have left us having to make due with little income.
It’s August and COVID is still on the news. But the saying, “everyday is a gift,” calls for us to make a decision every day that we wake up. We have to ask ourselves, what do I believe in? What is this that I value so much that my entire heart is in it? Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, that’s where your heart is also” (Matthew 6:21).
If you take your time to think about it, everything we value we leave behind. Marriages last or break. We raise kids, and they leave the house eventually. We work hard, and at times we enjoy the fruits of our toil; other times, the economic ecosystem despoils us of what we worked too hard to get.
Therefore the Bible is right when it calls all that we treasure “fleeting” (Hebrews 11:27). So we are called to place our hearts in that which endures forever. This foundation is Jesus Christ, the eternal rock (Isaiah 26:4).
Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself is the Rock eternal (Isaiah 26:4)
Jehovah Shammah—The LORD is There
Jehovah Shammah is one of the names that refers to God in the Scriptures. It is found in Ezekiel 48:35 when the Prophet had a vision about God’s presence in a future Jerusalem. This is the only scripture where the name appears, and it means “The Lord is There.” In the text, the Prophet told that the Lord’s glory had left Jerusalem because of their sins. Yet he foresaw a future Jerusalem where God’s glory would remain forever.
Jehovah Shammah is a name that brings me much comfort. This is because when Jesus went up to heaven, he promised that He would be with us until the end of the age (Matthew 28:20). Jesus also said, “I will not leave you orphans but I will come to you (John 14:18).” Jesus fulfilled this promise by pouring out the Holy Spirit/the Spirit of Christ on Earth.
“And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.(Joel 2:28/Acts 2:17)”
But is God Really with us?
Earthquakes! Pandemics! Wars and tensions among nations! Poverty! Refugees! Inequality! Racism!
Question: What is this time in human history?
Answer: Just as it was in the night when Jesus was arrested, this is the time when evil is at its peak.
Question: What is faith in a time like this?
Answer: Faith believes that Jesus is already in a place of victory. Therefore, through him, we can overcome the evil in the world. The Bible says that where sin increased, God’s grace increased (Romans 5:20). When the army of the enemy surrounded Elisha and his servant, Elisha was not afraid. But his servant Gehazi was in distress. Elisha tried to calm his servant by telling him that God was with them. But Gehazi could not believe it. So Elisha prayed and asked God to open the eyes of his servant. God answered his servant’s prayer, and Gehazi saw that the hills were full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha (2 Kings 6:17).
Don’t mess with angels; they are servants of God. There was a time when one angel killed one hundred and eighty-five thousand in an Assyrian camp (2 Kings 19:35). Therefore when we say that when sin increased, God’s grace increased, we also mean that there are more of God’s angels on Earth, ready to save those who accept salvation and call on God for help.
God is still with us.
A Small Testimony
Back in my undergrad, my parents divorced. Up to now, I don’t think there’s anything more painful for a child than to watch two people whom you naturally love, hate each other. As a firstborn, I was depressed. My two younger siblings were looking at me, and I told them everything would be okay-I lied.
My home was utterly shattered.
By the third year, I was up to my gills with student loans. I suffered from depression, anxiety, stress, insomnia, and battled poverty. I went for an internship, thinking I would get something small, but the company gave me nothing. I remember waking up at 4 a.m and walking several miles to the bus stop just to catch the company bus. I had to do this because I could not afford a bus ticket. Not to mention I was crashing at a friend’s place in a ghetto. I had to go to work really early and come back home late. Sometimes I would walk back home, and I would lose my way amidst the cramped houses. This ghetto was a hot-bed of criminals. There was no difference between living there and living in prison.
I would arrive at the hotel where I was working by 5 a.m.Since the hotel was by the sea, I would spend my time on the beach watching the sun come up. One day I got a taste of the most beautiful site you could ever see.
You see, on that day, the sea was still. The waters appeared to have this fresh turquoise blue shade, and the blue sky looked like a beautiful woman who covered her beauty with a translucent cotton garment. But she could not hide her beauty for long as the sun’s rays burnt away her garment, exposing her blue skin.
I said to myself, “Wow! This morning is so beautiful. God must be here. I’ll do what Moses did and take off my shoes. Surely this is holy ground.”
You will forgive me for being so dramatic on that day. I guess only a nature lover would understand me.
I removed my shoes and poured out my heart to the unseen God. I can’t recall exactly what I said, but I know I told my fears about the future and the frustrations that I was going through as an intern. I concluded by telling God, “I don’t know you well, and my faith is shaking. Please, if you’ve heard me, please give me a sign. Maybe a dream where you show me that everything is going to be okay. I mean–you’re God. If you wanted to reach out to someone, you’d do it. For my sake God, speak to my soul. I am anxious and afraid.”
After that prayer, I wore my shoes and went back to the hotel to start my shift. The donkey-work I was doing made me forget about the prayer. By the time I went to sleep, I could not remember. By 4 a.m. the next day, my alarm rang, I dashed out of bed. All I can say is something gripped me as I reached the corner of my bed. I felt an unseen force pull me back, and this thought came to my head, “You got an answer from the Almighty GOD! But you have forgotten!?” In an instant, my mind recalled that I had had a dream a few minutes before waking up. In the dream, I was wearing a jungle green t-shirt and shorts. I was chatting with someone as I cooked chapatis (a traditional meal) on my cooker. I was wearing a gold chain, and I was in a cream-colored apartment.
The meaning of the dream was clear to me. God had answered my prayer, and by showing me this vision, he had promised to take care of me in my life. I knew then that although my parents had forsaken us, it was God’s time to provide for me.
I felt different that morning. I can describe it as a feeling of discomfort because I felt that God existed for the first time in my life. I was aware of His presence, His eyes watching me, and it scared me.
The Almighty had gripped my heart that morning, and this was the heart of a sinner. An ordinary human being with no special traits or outstanding accomplishments. Yet, I felt “Holy.” Not because I was holy, but because the Holy Spirit had touched my heart that day.
On a light note, I was so afraid that I ignored secular music for the longest time (I didn’t think it would be wise to offend an All-powerful God).
I will conclude by reminding you of my favorite scripture. I have shared this scripture in this blog before, and I will share it today.
“We overcame by the blood of the lamb, and the word of our testimony, and we did not love our lives so much as to shrink from death.” (Revelation 12:11)
GOD is With us every day! He is an ever-present help in time of need (Psalms 46:1). And we will overcome COVID and every other challenge that life throws at us by clinging to this truth! He is Jehovah Shammah in this life and the next.
Abraham, the father of the faith always had his eyes looking towards heaven. He desired the heavenly Jerusalem, the Kingdom of God, where God is. This is the same for us. No matter what we experience in this life we believe that God is with us daily. We look to heaven with the hope that even in death, we shall see him whose hands and feet were pierced for our sake.
This I know, God is for me! (Psalms 56:9).
God is for us, and God will continue to see us through, even after this pandemic.
In Jesus Name.