Today is July 4, 2020 — the day we commemorate the declaration of independence from Great Britain. “Let freedom ring,” we say.
Today we celebrate the monumental birth of a newfound land and country. We finally felt free to move about the country and settle down with all rights and privileges.
That was 244 years ago.
Today, however, we’re not so free to move about the county. The birth of COVID-19 has established its own freedom to move about the country and settle into our cities and homes — unannounced and unwelcomed — wreaking havoc on individuals who breathe in its contaminated air.
Back in March of 2020, we all went into lockdown — quarantining ourselves and our families from the vicious, unseen killer. We labored to find answers. We united in prayer all over the world, asking God to heal our land. We begged God and our nation’s best scientist and doctors to find a cure. We argued with politicians over best practices, conspiracy theories, and power of pandemic proportions.
II Chronicles 7:14 became our banner verse that we quoted and preached and prayed…
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.II Chronicles 7;14 (NIV)
I prayed that prayer as fervently as I could right along with you — “humble ourselves … pray … seek my face …and turn from our wicked ways.” It has been our honest plea that our land would be healed as we begged God to take this sickness from us.
While taking a walk last week, I asked the Spirit to reveal His thoughts on a particular verse in Matthew 5. I was scheduled to help my team from Intentional Faith teach on the first Beatitude from that passage in a video devotional later that day. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Walking with the Spirit to hear His interpretation, His reminded me of the deeper meaning of “poor in spirit”– a humility of heart that recognizes our desperate need for God.
As He revealed that truth to me, He hit the rewind button back to an earlier video devotional we had recorded just before going into quarantine — II Chronicles 7:14. As in typical Spirit fashion, He continued to weave a thread from one passage of Scripture to the other with profound revelation.
The thoughts began to unwind. He reminded me that I had prayed earnestly and fervently through the II Chronicles passage about humbling ourselves and praying in that “poor in spirit” kind of way. That humbling was absolutely necessary but there was something else very significant embedded in that earlier passage.
It was if He said, “Don’t you see? You’ve been praying for Me to heal the land of COVID-19 and even asking Me to reveal any sin that needs to be repented of. There’s a reason the racial injustices have surfaced in intensity right on the heels of the coronavirus. I’m answering your prayer. This is a sin (wicked way) of your land that you need to turn from.”
He continued to reveal that the people He was calling to repent were not those people in power or government officials or politicians but “MY PEOPLE–called by MY name” — all who call themselves followers of Jesus Christ.
It had to start with the Church. Humbly seeking God, praying, seeking His face, turning from any wicked ways — THEN we would hear from heaven and God would heal our land.
God seemed to be revealing that a major sin of our land has been the injustice to people groups all the way back to the foundation of our nation. We started in the very beginning with the Native Americans and continued on with human trafficking — bringing Africans to our land, enslaving them and stripping them of their own rights, privileges and freedom.
Could God be revealing the wickedness from which we need to turn?
As with many, we may say, “But we didn’t do it. They did it.” But if we’re truly to be our brother’s keeper and we’re called to love one another as we love ourselves, then there’s a communal sense of the body of Christ that when one suffers, we all suffer. In the same sense, when one sins doesn’t that affect all of us in some way? Without repentance, don’t we carry the sins of our fathers?
I sat with this a long time — feeling a heaviness both to share this as well as a reluctance at how some might respond. I’m not sure I could stay silent today.
With revealing of truth comes a responsibility to act. In the end, Jesus was worth it and I’d sure love to see healing in our land.
“To better the future we must disturb the present.”Catherine Booth
(Co-founder of The Salvation Army with her husband, William Booth)
How will that look? I’ll start with me for sure! Maybe it starts with my own heart-felt time of repenting of places I’ve held assumptions, biases, acted superior or condescending. The list goes on!
From there, conversations with others. Speaking the truth in love. Educating ourselves to the issues that built the systemic injustice in our land. Engaging in real friendships with others who don’t look like me. Listening. Caring. Responding.
My prayer is that every small ripple would spread from the epicenter of repentant hearts until the wave of injustice has been covered by God’s grace and healing and freedom for all can begin.
“Humbling leads to repenting, and repenting leads to healing.”Roger Martin