PANDEMIC WANDERINGS

The world has experienced and is still experiencing a sickness of pandemic proportions.  Covid swept over the world like a sudden Tsunami, taking loved ones away from us.  No one seemed to be in control of it.  There was no end in sight for a long while.  It got political, as most things do, as men and women tried to “explain it”, jockey for position, seeking the image of power to profit from it.  But for those whose loved ones were dying in hospitals and couldn’t be with them while they were dying, most turned to God—finally.  Some waited until all hope was exhausted before turning to God.  Believers and non-believers questioned why God would allow this to happen.  Most true believers knew to go to God first and pray.  It was a “Job moment” in time when the pandemic was at it’s worst. 

As we read the last chapter of James, I am reflecting on this pandemic experience over the past couple of years and realize it isn’t quite over yet, but has been calmed down with medical solutions now available.  I observe how people have dealt with the this situation in their own lives.  I discover that all of our mental, emotional, spiritual, intellectual and physical abilities were tested.  And I ask, what did this pandemic reveal in us?  What needs to be healed so we can be made whole again from this experience? 

This last chapter of James has one verse that is most often quoted when teaching about prayer: “Are you hurting? Pray.” And we do pray.  But do we wait to pray until all human hope is lost, until something so great and so overwhelming happens that fear drives us to pray?  If we wait to pray until we are at the end of our human efforts, then we are missing out on God’s love, care, guidance and support for us that is available hourly, daily and forever! We are missing out on the most important, intimate, personal loving, real relationship we will ever have on this earth!    

When we read the book of Job, we learn that he was a very righteous man, but he had had to figure this out, too.  Job believed in God but he also believed he could handle life on his own.  Job’s lesson was that through good times and bad—God is God and we are not.  God is in control.  God loves us. God provides for us.  Good things do not elevate us to being God.  Bad things do always mean we are evil.  All things, good and bad, are in God’s hands to be used to grow and shape us, build us into all He created us to be.  At the end of Job’s lesson of testing He declared, “And yet will I trust Him”. 

Who do we fully trust?

The greatest pandemic of all has been going on since Adam and Eve fell to evil’s temptations to turn from God with evil’s suggestion for them to become God themselves.  These very thoughts and behaviors are what got Satan, the fallen angel, thrown out of heaven and banned from God’s presence.  We fall for evil when our own sin—unconfessed, separates us from God.  We think we can handle all of life on our own.  This futile effort is the sin of trying to be our own god. Being lost, turning from God to be our own god, is the real pandemic.  However, it is a sickness that can be healed.  “Are you sick? Pray”, writes James. 

The last verse, sometimes not emphasized, but of equal great importance tells us: “My dear friends, if you know people who have wandered off from God’s truth, don’t write them off. Go after them. Get them back and you will have rescued precious lives from destruction and prevented an epidemic of wandering away from God.” 

If our beloved family member had the symptoms of covid, we would rush them to the doctor to get help to heal them.  James tells us it is the same who those among our family and friends who have wandered off from God, “go after them”.  We will have rescued our precious loved ones from the pandemic of death and destruction forever. 

“Are you sick?  Pray.” 

Pray with ceasing.  Pray without giving up.  Yet, will I trust Him in my life to make me whole again.  Pray for your loved ones who are sick.

The rest of James outline clear symptoms of lives wandering away from God.  The prescription?  Jesus Christ.

JAMES—ACTIVE FAITH

James 5, The Message

Destroying Your Life from Within

1-3 And a final word to you arrogant rich: Take some lessons in lament. You’ll need buckets for the tears when the crash comes upon you. Your money is corrupt and your fine clothes stink. Your greedy luxuries are a cancer in your gut, destroying your life from within. You thought you were piling up wealth. What you’ve piled up is judgment.

4-6 All the workers you’ve exploited and cheated cry out for judgment. The groans of the workers you used and abused are a roar in the ears of the Master Avenger. You’ve looted the earth and lived it up. But all you’ll have to show for it is a fatter than usual corpse. In fact, what you’ve done is condemn and murder perfectly good persons, who stand there and take it.

* * *

7-8 Meanwhile, friends, wait patiently for the Master’s Arrival. You see farmers do this all the time, waiting for their valuable crops to mature, patiently letting the rain do its slow but sure work. Be patient like that. Stay steady and strong. The Master could arrive at any time.

Friends, don’t complain about each other. A far greater complaint could be lodged against you, you know. The Judge is standing just around the corner.

10-11 Take the old prophets as your mentors. They put up with anything, went through everything, and never once quit, all the time honoring God. What a gift life is to those who stay the course! You’ve heard, of course, of Job’s staying power, and you know how God brought it all together for him at the end. That’s because God cares, cares right down to the last detail.

12 And since you know that he cares, let your language show it. Don’t add words like “I swear to God” to your own words. Don’t show your impatience by concocting oaths to hurry up God. Just say yes or no. Just say what is true. That way, your language can’t be used against you.

Prayer to Be Reckoned With

13-15 Are you hurting? Pray. Do you feel great? Sing. Are you sick? Call the church leaders together to pray and anoint you with oil in the name of the Master. Believing-prayer will heal you, and Jesus will put you on your feet. And if you’ve sinned, you’ll be forgiven—healed inside and out.

16-18 Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with. Elijah, for instance, human just like us, prayed hard that it wouldn’t rain, and it didn’t—not a drop for three and a half years. Then he prayed that it would rain, and it did. The showers came and everything started growing again.

19-20 My dear friends, if you know people who have wandered off from God’s truth, don’t write them off. Go after them. Get them back and you will have rescued precious lives from destruction and prevented an epidemic of wandering away from God.

Lord,

You have used James writings to open my eyes to the real pandemic, the real hurt.  It is our own sins unconfessed.  We make excuses, seek riches and fame, wander away from you and complain and judge each other in the process.  When bad times come, we try everything in our power to avoid it instead of coming to you to grow us through it.  I confess of all my sin before you. I am not God.  All my trust in back where it needs to be—in You alone.  Only you are God.  I am not.  Grow me still, for yet will I trust and thank You.

In Jesus Name, Amen

And I’m singing…In Everything Give Him Thanks by Ron Kenoly

In everything give Him thanks, give Him thanks
In everything give Him thanks
In the good times praise His Name
In the bad times do the same
In everything give the King of Kings all the thanks

With all of the good things that came his way
It’s no wonder you could hear Job say
“The Lord giveth and He taketh away, so I’ll still give Him thanks”
But when the tables were all turned around
And all of Job’s wealth came crashing down
Job’s faith in God had taught him to say “I’ll still give Him thanks”

In the good times I’ll praise His name
In the bad times I’ll do the same
In everything I’ll give the King of Kings all the thanks


And in those dark hours when there’s no one around
And Satan tries to tell you that God has let you down
In every dark hour the best thing I have found
Is to give God the thanks
For He has never, He has never failed me yet
So why should I start now to worry or fret
In everything, in everything I won’t ever forget to give God the thanks
In everything give Him thanks, give Him thanks.
In everything give Him thanks. we’ve got to give Him thanks
In the good times praise His Name
In the bad times, church do the same
In everything give the King of Kings all the thanks

In my trials, and in my test
When I’ve tried and I know I’ve done my best
In everything I’ll give the King of Kings all the thanks

About randscallawayffm

Randy and Susan co founded Finding Focus Ministries in 2006. Their goal as former full time pastors, is to serve and provide spiritual encouragement and focus to those on the "front lines" of ministry. Extensive experience being on both sides of ministry, paid and volunteer, on the mission fields of other countries as well as the United States, helps them bring a different perspective to those who need it most. Need a lift? Call us 260 229 2276.
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