“Social distancing”, “self-isolation”; these are words many of us had never heard until a few weeks ago and now they are mentioned hundreds of times each day on our news channels. A coronavirus pandemic is an unprecedented event for many of us. Many countries like the UK are past being able to contain the virus. This means a large proportion of the population will eventually get infected. Some of those infected will need hospital care, some of those in hospitals will need intensive care and sadly, some will die.
Therefore, we should all take it seriously, support the efforts to reduce the spread of the virus and listen to those in authority. Firstly, God commands us to listen to those in authority [Romans 13:1] especially as they are trying to save lives. Moreover, if you are young and healthy, this is less about you getting infected and more about you infecting someone who might get seriously ill or die. Social distancing and self-isolation are measures to ensure too many people don’t get sick at once because that will be unmanageable for health services and ultimately result in more deaths. Hospitals are already stretched, so we all must do our part to reduce the rate at which this virus spreads and give the health professionals the best chance to reduce fatalities.
My family is social distancing which means no unnecessary visitors or visits, including grandparents. We are avoiding crowds, including Christian gatherings. If we do have to go out, we do so with utmost care following the guidelines provided by the government. We are leveraging video conferencing platforms to stay in touch with friends and family. It is a bit strange and it doesn’t help that we don’t know how long we’ll have to live this way. I miss the freedom to go wherever I want but it is a price worth paying to save lives. As a Christian, I believe God expects me to place myself in the shoes of someone likely to die if they contract covid-19 or a health professional who has to face this virus in all its ugliness and do all I can to make their lives a little easier.
“Unprecedented” is another word that is frequently used in connection with this outbreak. It is a word that strikes fear in the hearts of many as we see the industries and institutions which undergird our way of life either collapsing or under enormous strain. There are fears of a global recession as many are worried about their jobs along with the health of their loved ones. These are indeed unprecedented times but I also believe the social distancing and self-isolation measures provide many of us with equally unprecedented opportunities.
Truth be told, many have us lead incredibly hectic lives. Between work and family commitments, there is very little room for God. However, the measures being taken to slow the spread of the coronavirus is forcing many of us to spend more time at home with loved ones. For many of us, these measures have also eliminated our commute to work and given us back a considerable amount of time each weekday. How are you using that time? Is it possible to dedicate a portion of that time to build your relationship with God? Wouldn’t it be amazing if at the end of this season you are closer to God because you have spent time exploring His Word and your faith?
As I mentioned in my bio, the enormity of the responsibilities of fatherhood drove me closer to God. I needed to know God for myself. I also wanted to be able to explain and defend my faith to anyone [1 Peter 3:15]. As such, my faith needed to be applicable in everyday life. It needed to be coherent, empirical and relevant to my situation and the world at large. It also needed to address the questions of origin, meaning, morality and destiny. On my journey of discovery, I have found some wonderful resources which I am sharing below for anyone looking to deepen their faith in this season.
Reading the Bible:
- This is the starting point. I had struggled to read my Bible through until I found David Pawson’s Unlocking the Bible videos on the books of the Old and New Testaments. The videos provided the context that I lacked and made it easier to understand what I was reading.
Studying the Bible:
- I wrote elsewhere that there is a significant difference between reading and studying the Bible. The latter involves objectively observing and interpreting the text. It takes a deeper look at the original context of a book so that we can accurately apply it. There are a few study methods out there but I found the inductive Bible study method championed by Precepts Ministries easy to adopt. I’d recommend starting with a free lightning study.
- There are several books on prayer in circulation. However, I haven’t come across many as practical as Pete Greig’s How To Pray. It is an excellent guide on how to pray. There are also helpful videos on prayer which are great for group discussions.
- There are several wonderful Christian authors whose books continue to educate and inspire fellow believers. For someone grappling with relating to God, I would recommend Reaching for the Invisible God by Philip Yancey. I would also recommend Where is God when it Hurts, The Jesus I Never Knew and What’s So Amazing About Grace by the same author. Christian apologetics is something that has always interested me and I would highly recommend Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis. I found it brilliant at explaining some of the basics of the Christian faith.
I pray that despite all the suffering and uncertainty that lies ahead with the coronavirus, we can look back at this period as a season we deepened our relationship with God.