April 8, 2020 | Miami, Florida, United States | By Samuel Telemaque, Inter-American Division
God is changing both the world and the Church. He is preparing the Church to reap His harvest in His world. Our mission, therefore, is to nurture, equip, and mentor God’s people to have resolute faith in Him as they go forth to reap His bountiful harvest in the world.
The Psalmist David echoed this perspective. “Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them” (Psalms 126:5-6 NIV). The principle of the harvest suggests the sowing comes before reaping, weeping comes before joy, prayer comes before victory and darkness comes before a brighter future. We are to keep our eyes on “joy that comes in the morning” (Psalms 30:5) even as we experience moments of anxiety, isolation, fear and uncertainty.
How do we give new meaning to moments of uncertainty? I suggest some practical ideas to transition ourselves to moments of praise, hope and victory. The Bible gives us God’s perspectives of the crisis. We need to read the Bible to understand the meaning given to the prevailing cultural and social themes emerging from the crisis. Some of those themes are isolation, distancing, fear, anxiety, uncertainty, washing of hands, death and unemployment. The Bible interprets these themes in the context of salvation. It gives new meaning, or changes the meaning or reinforces the meaning of each of those themes. The new meaning changes our thinking, our emotions and gives us new zeal to respond to God in prayer and witness to others.
Witnessing can become easier in a crisis. We are able to reinterpret to our friends the meaning of social issues in a crisis. For instance, Daniel said to Nebuchadnezzar “This was the dream, and now we will interpret it to the king (Daniel 2:36 NIV). Daniel understood the meaning of the dream. This made his witness to the king very easy.
God makes witnessing easier for us in crisis. Every morning I identify a prevailing theme or issue in the crisis. Then, I send to friends a Bible promise which gives new meaning to a prevailing issue. The promise clarifies their thinking, changes their emotions, and evokes positive responses such as “just what I need,” “fitting for the time” “it helped stop someone committing suicide” and “God bless you pastor.”
Take for example the social issue of “quarantine.” This promise reinforces the social issue. “Go, my people, enter your rooms and shut the doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until his wrath has passed by. See, the Lord is coming out of his dwelling to punish the people of the earth for their sins. The earth will disclose the blood shed on it; the earth will conceal its slain no longer” (Isaiah 26:20-21 NIV). While the promise has a historical origin, its secondary application is biblically relevant and culturally sensitive to a prevailing social issue. God makes witnessing easy for us in times of crisis. The effects of relevant witness are immediate, tangible and personal to the givers and receivers. They experience joy while weeping.
Praying for others brings joy. We can use our telephone to send a recorded prayer to a friend. This prayer may be listened to several times. A recorded prayer should be short and reflect the needs of your friend to God. You can convey many messages by sending such a prayer. These messages include, God feels your pain, I am thinking of you, and I value your service to God. These messages evoke positive changes in a person’s mind, emotion and actions. They are direct and personal. An appropriate time to record a prayer is just after your personal devotion. At such times, your mind is alert and under the sweet anointing of the Holy Spirit.
In a crisis, we can use social media platforms to communicate very personal messages to our friends. Our friends will experience joy while they are weeping. We also experience joy in service to others during a crisis. This is the law of the harvest. As we serve others we experience joy.
We look forward to a brighter tomorrow when we shall all sing: “When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy (Psalms 126:1-3 NIV).
Pastor Samuel Telemaque is the Sabbath School director in the Inter-American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.