Ships. Going Nowhere.
Pastor Ian offers three suggestions from God's Word on what we ought to do when we worry and shares the latest measures GBC will be taking for Covid-19.
Because we walkie-talkie-run every day, Sherri and I know the East Coast Park well. We know where the food is and where the water fountains are. We know the winding paths and the straight paths. And we know the times. We know time when the birds begin to wake up, when the bats hang up, and when the pathlights turn off. We know that the aunties and uncles begin to come out around 7am, many for Taichi, and others for Qigong. At 7.15am, the People’s Army marches by. I call them that because they march in careful precision, arms flying back and forth in perfect unity… with rousing, patriotic music blaring.
Sherri and I typically leave before six. The air is cool, the paths are empty, and on mornings like this one, the moon is gloriously bright and full.
But this week, something is different on the East Coast Park. People are out earlier. Many, many more people are out earlier. Even at 6am, the paths are congested, not just with aunties and uncles… but with young adults. Young adults who are working from home, replacing their commute with a sudden ambition to mitigate the potential damage of Covid-19 with urgent attention to physical fitness.
In times of heightened anxiety, everyone in Singapore seems to be doing all they can do to hope for the best, and yet prepare for the worst. At least in the short term. And yet as we arrived home from our walk, I looked toward the ocean and wondered, “Is it possible to even comprehend what is coming?” Because what I saw under the new rising sun was a very congested queue of container ships, all fuelled up, but with nowhere to go. And that worries me, because the world has gotten a virus… and the global economy may well be heading for pneumonia!
There is no doubt. Crises can take a toll on us. They exact a physical price on us, when we fall sick. We feel the emotional drain, the anxiety when we hear of people being exposed and rumours of people being exposed. And honestly, some, perhaps many of us bear the worry of economic exposure. There will be many—perhaps even in our own church family—whose jobs will be at risk in the wake of this current “COVID crisis”. And so I worry.
According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, “worry” is to think about problems or unpleasant things that might happen in a way that makes you feel unhappy and frightened. What is fascinating to me, is that not only does this dictionary give a definition of “worry” but in the examples it gives for possible uses of the word “worry”, it seems to be giving some very earnest, though secular, advice on what to do about worry:
- Try not to worry—there's nothing you can do to change the situation.
- Don't worry. She'll be all right.
- It's silly worrying about things, which are outside your control.
In other words in times of genuine crisis, when we worry about things that are outside of our control, the secular advice is simple: “Stop it! Just stop it!”
But if you do feel yourself wrestling with worry; if you’ve tried but cannot stop, what ought a believer do with it? God’s Word offers us a few suggestions.
"Take a Load Off"
If you’re like me, your heart is daily weighed down by a constant barrage of bad news. It follows me in my phone. It pursues me in the vehicle of WhatsApp Rumours and it sits at my bedside, just in case I feel the need to be anxious in the middle of the night. I’m not sure that I can stop waking up in the middle of the night, but I can choose what I reach for. Proverbs 12:25 reminds me to reach for God’s Word: “Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.”
"Give Stuff Away"
When we read the Bible, God plants a good word into the worried soil of our weary hearts. And especially when we endure challenging times, it is important to recognise that in these moments, He invites us to leave something with Him. In 1 Peter 5:7 we are reminded to “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” Because He cares for us, He can be trusted with our care. Because He is our strength, we can sing with David, “The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.” (Ps 28:7) In truth I am often left crying out to God with the less-than-perfect song of The Oh Hellos:
Lord, take my hand and set me free
Take my burdens and bury them deep
Take this burden away from me
And bury it before it buries me
There are indeed times in which desperate times deserve a desperate plea. And in that plea we give Him that which we cannot bear.
"Turn Afresh to God"
Is it possible that our glorious, sovereign God uses every present crisis to bring us to the end of ourselves and grow us deeper in Him? Is it possible that in these desperate moments a competent, self-sufficient people may realise how far we have wandered from the mercies of His grace? Philippians 4:6-7 exhorts us, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” What an amazing truth. Imagine! As we lean hard into Him; as we bring our anxious requests to Him; the primary emotion we feel is not worry, but gratitude!
It is my prayer that we would seek these crisis behaviours: That we would daily seek a good word from Christ, that we would consistently offer Him the gift of our anxieties, and that we would seek Him early and often in every day!
If you are feeling well, let me encourage you to give yourself a little additional time for temperature screening and contact tracing. Let’s prepare our hearts as Pastor Eugene teaches through Luke 6:27-36 and as we all focus on how we can love like Jesus!
Our Elders continue to monitor the Covid-19 situation in Singapore and maintain a commitment to all Ministry of Health's (MOH) recommendations. This week MOH issued new advice on social responsibility: All senior-centric activities by government agencies will be suspended for 14 days till 24 Mar 2020. In light of this we are recommending that:
1. GBC members who are in this vulnerable age group consider joining us via our YouTube channel until 29th March. You may continue to express your thanksgiving to God by giving your tithes and offerings by direct transfer.
2. If you are staying home during this period, but would like a visit from our pastoral team, please call our church office, and one of our pastors would be delighted to arrange a personal visit and pray with you.
3. As always, all who are sick are encouraged to see a doctor and stay at home. Please do not continue to attend social events or “doctor hop” as this dramatically increases the potential of virus spread.
We will also have a briefing in Room 310 from 1030-1115am for all CGLs and members above 50 years old on the enhanced social distancing measures for GBC due to Covid-19.