We share our personal reflections on what we have learned in this global crisis.
Over the past 8 months or so, our team at Our Daily Bread Ministries has followed the Covid-19 crisis closely so as to prepare biblical resources that we hope have been useful for you. Along the way, we ourselves have been touched, both by your honest sharing and by the many stories of how God has reached out to the world with His comfort and strength in this difficult time.
God has also given us many personal insights in this time. Here are 5 that stood out for us:
“We are called to be disciplers at home.”
While the circuit breaker and work/study from home arrangements disrupted our daily lives greatly, many of us discovered an upside: we got to spend more time with our families. And while this meant more tension at times, we learned to cherish this extended time with our loved ones—something we often neglect to set aside in our packed schedules.
For those of us who are parents, this extra time also drove home this important truth: that sharing the gospel with our kids is our responsibility. With church services and Sunday School lessons suspended, many of us realised that we could no longer depend on others to nurture our children, and had to take greater responsibility for our family’s discipleship.
We were able to pray more regularly as a family, get our kids to read the Bible, do family devotions, and find ways to teach them biblical truths in the course of daily life. For many of us, this was a tough call—but well worth the effort it took to push ourselves out of our comfort zones to obey God’s call:
Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds . . . Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
“Church life is more than Sunday service . . .”
Attending the worship service every weekend is an ingrained habit for many Christians, and it’s hard to imagine going through almost a year without going to church. Yet, in 2020, with church services suspended and even small group meetings restricted, all of us have had to rethink what “doing church” really meant.
We’ve come to see that the “church” is not just a physical building with a gathering of believers. We’ve been challenged to be intentional about building and maintaining the faith community amid the necessary restrictions, such as staying in close touch with our brothers and sisters-in-Christ, offering a listening ear (on the phone or on video conferencing), or helping others in practical ways (like buying groceries and ordering food).
Covid-19 has re-taught us a fundamental yet often-forgotten truth: ultimately, we are the church, the living Body of Christ.
You are . . . fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
“. . . . But let’s go back when we can!”
Truth be told, after many of us got over not being able to attend church service, some of us got a little too used to it. While we lamented over the impersonality of online services or pre-recorded videos, we began to enjoy the luxury of not having to dress up for church, not having to travel, and being able to wake up 15 minutes before service—which some of us could watch anytime we wanted on YouTube. No wonder some churches saw some reluctance among members to go back to church after they resumed services.
To be sure, online church services are helpful for those who are less mobile or who have work commitments or caregiving responsibilities that make it hard for them to attend physical services. But, as some of us have found, attending church service at home can affect our attention and attitude towards worship. Not to mention, it can also affect the bonds of the faith community as we stop meeting in person.
Just as it was hard to give up the habit of going to church, not meeting can also become a habit that is hard to break. As Covid-19 restrictions are gradually eased and church services begin to resume, let us return to the habit of meeting with the right heart and spirit, remembering the call of Hebrews 10:24–25:
Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
“A little can go a long way.”
As we sought to obey our God-given call to help our fellow believers, citizens, and neighbours in need, some of us asked ourselves: What could we possibly do? With people facing serious problems like joblessness and depression, how much could we really help as individuals?
In faith, however, we did the little we could—and soon found that a little can go a long way. We discovered that sometimes, a simple act of calling a lonely relative to ask, “How are you?”, or buying some rice or food for an elderly neighbour could make all the difference.
No wonder the Bible records the small things that ordinary people did, and showed how God multiplied them in amazing ways. Like the child who gave up five loaves and two fish—and fed a crowd of thousands. May we continue to be ever-ready to show God’s love and compassion in small, practical ways.
“If anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”
“Make plans, but entrust them into God’s hands.”
Many of us had great (or busy) plans for 2020. Big projects at work or church, grand holidays, renovations at home, new jobs . . . until Covid-19 put paid to most, if not all of them. It reminded us that while we can make all the plans we want, at the end of the day they can only happen if God allows them to. The scale of the pandemic reminded us that all our intelligence and abilities meant nothing without God.
James put it best in his letter when he warned believers not to make plans as if they were in full control of their lives. “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow,” he noted wryly. What an apt description of the year 2020!
That doesn’t mean we should operate on the fly and live randomly and recklessly. But as we continue to plan wisely, the uncertainty of life reminds us to entrust our plans to God, the only One who can make them actually happen. In the meantime, let us seize opportunities to show love—and not assume that there will always be a tomorrow to do so.
You who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”