Lessons from Lockdown: What might God be doing in us through Covid times? (devotion)
– Pastor Nathan Hedt
Written July 2021
At the time of writing this, Covid lockdowns are deeply affecting Sydney and regional NSW, Melbourne (again! Lockdown 5.0!), and now Adelaide. In times of high anxiety, it’s easy to feel out of control, and easy to forget that ‘The Lord reigns’ (Psalm 93:1). What might God be doing with us and in us during lockdown and an ongoing global pandemic?
There are lessons we can learn from lockdown! Now I want to make it very clear that I don’t believe God has caused the global pandemic, but that this is one of the things that happens in a world that is broken by sin and suffering – a world where the whole creation is ‘groaning’ as St Paul writes in Romans 8:22. Paul, however, goes on to write, ‘We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose’ (Romans 8:28).
What might God be working in us? What might we learn from lockdown? How might we be changed by Covid times?
Here are some ‘lessons from lockdown.’ These may have been felt more viscerally here in Victoria, especially with our long extended lockdown in the second half of 2020, however I encourage you to ponder them in your own situation and understand the times in which we are living and how God is at work.
- God is in control – and we are not. ‘The Lord reigns.’ In times such as the global pandemic, our illusions of being in control of our own lives can be broken. This is a good thing, and we Christians can be reminded that Jesus is the one who is in charge of history. The crucified and risen Saviour is the one in whose hands we are, and it is the safest place to be.
- Death is on the table for discussion. This sounds really macabre, but our society is in constant, wilful denial of the reality of death. We airbrush it and try to keep it out of our minds. But for us Christians, we know that death is not the end of our existence. The resurrection of Jesus means death is not the worst thing that can happen to us. We have a great, living hope, and we can share that hope with the people around us.
- The idols of consumerism are being dethroned. Consumerism is a way of life, a worldview, an alternative religion which explicitly offers meaning and purpose. Western consumerism defines our worth by two things: accumulation and Your worth is defined by what you can buy, and by what you can produce. Suddenly, in the pandemic, these two idols are shown up for the poor substitutes they really are. We in Victoria have had many shops closed. We are asked to only leave our house for what is essential. What is really essential? What a great question for people to be asking! Suddenly, people’s sense of purpose and meaning – the very foundation of their identity – is being shaken. When these kinds of cataclysmic changes happen, people can be more open than ever to discussions about where purpose and meaning lie, what the meaning of life really is, and where they can find their worth. I believe that one of the things God is doing in the pandemic (for the Western world at least) is opening the door for people to have their worldview challenged. I believe that we will see many more people asking questions and having conversations about the spiritual side of life. And we can pray God uses this as a catalyst for many to explore faith in Jesus.
- People are open to prayer. There is no question that many people are deeply anxious, and some are drastically affected, by Covid lockdowns. This opens the door for us to say ‘Can I pray for you?’ in response to people sharing their anxiety, their hurt or struggle. Jesus said that the ‘poor in spirit’ are the ones who are closest to the kingdom of God (Matthew 5:3). That means the people who know they don’t have the answers within themselves, but need to look for someone or something greater than themselves And Paul writes in Philippians, ‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.’ This quiet, prayerful trust in God is one of the great gifts we can share with people who don’t know the peace of God that passes understanding.
In my experience, lockdown and Covid times are catalytic for conversations that can lead people to Jesus. I believe that God is indeed ‘working for the good of those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.’ I believe that if we have eyes to see and ears to hear, ‘lessons from lockdown’ will open the door for a great turning of Australians and New Zealanders to faith in Jesus. Do you have other lessons from lockdown? I’d love to hear from you.
Let’s pray for the people of our country, and for God’s will to be done through Covid:
You are Lord of heaven and earth. You are the one who decides how the great events of history will be used in your plan. We praise you for the ways you are at work in our country during this time, and for the way that you want to use these catalytic events.
Jesus, you are the one who has conquered death. You bring healing and hope to people. Thank you that we are held in your hands.
Holy Spirit, you are going before and behind us. Break down the idols of our culture. Lead people to find their worth and purpose not in accumulation or accomplishment but in their identity as children of God, redeemed by Jesus.
Triune God, give us peace in the midst of anxiety. Give us courage to speak of you and share the hope we have. Give us confidence to pray for others. We ask that you would use the pandemic to bring many people to faith in Jesus, and we pray that we may be a joyful part of that.
Loving God, protect health care workers around the globe. Move nations to be just and equitable in their distribution of vaccines. Comfort all who have lost loved ones or been isolated by Covid-19.
We place these times in your hands in the precious name of Jesus. Amen.