Taking blessings where we can in these troubled times

Pastor Dan delivered a powerfully moving message during Sunday’s live-stream worship service online. The genuineness and vulnerability carried the words of God straight to the heart. He bared his soul. And in these times when people seek answers and relief to a confusing and horrifying phenomenon plaguing the world, a personal story about how God works is comforting and hopeful. His was a story of faith, hope and trust.

Just like last Sunday’s online worship, yesterday’s was very special in a sacredly intimate way – like God was speaking directly to me through Pastor Dan’s preaching. Obviously, it was with great pain that he shared a trial culled from his wife’s very difficult ectopic pregnancy, supposedly with their first baby. It was heart-rending, especially when the doctor urged the couple to make a life or death decision. Horrific for this couple who always strived to be steadfast in their faith and convictions. Alone in my room while watching this man on the screen agonizing over his testimony with such raw emotion, I sat at the edge of my seat, in uncomfortable suspense for the resolution of the couple’s dilemma, and in empathy, strangely I  prayed to hear something good.

A stark reminder, there still is beauty in this world even in the midst of chaos — from Jeanne’s garden in Spain (photo courtesy of Jeanne J. Ashkenazi)

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Thankful for my first live-stream worship service experience

Today is Sunday. I watched a live-stream worship service, the first I ever attended online. Like many other churches, worship services have been cancelled in attempt to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Part of the preventive over-arching norm called social distancing. Initially, I intended to read scriptures for my Sunday prayer time at home this morning. Instead, I tuned in to my Palo Alto church’s service online. I am so thankful that I did.

Never did I expect that experience to affect me strongly, like the pastor was speaking to me directly. It felt like I was receiving the words of teaching and counsel from the Father Himself, through the preacher’s mouth. I was being spoken to, with no one else about me. Just me and my laptop – and that powerfully moved me to tears. Amazing and awedly strange.

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Prayer, the antidote to fear

The world is ridden with fear over the uncertainty of the duration and effects of a phenomenon, the outbreak of the corona virus. Society is shaken. Lifestyles are changing almost to the beat of an eerie drumroll that vibrates over oceans and continents. Social norms are switching from close and friendly neighborliness to keeping distance between persons conversing – no hugs, no kisses, no handshakes, no high fives, no touching, no congregating, and on and on. Isolation. Be like an island, at least while the drumroll lasts.

But the drumroll will end. The island will welcome visits again. There will be handshaking again, and people can give hugs, or pecks on the cheek, or high fives, and hold hands again. Maybe not in this present reality – but a turn in the road will come. Just trust.

So, you ask, how?

We are extremely grateful for the efforts of medical first responders that risk their own health and well-being by braving the front lines where they take every initiative to combat the dreadful invader as they treat and care for those affected. We take special notice of governments, officials, institutions and groups who spearhead policies, provisions and send substantial aid and resources where they’re necessary. With thankfulness, we send our encouraging thoughts to those laboring and burning the night lamp to find cure or preventive measures through intensive study and research. And of course, our hearts go out to the affected families and individuals while we ourselves take every precaution in this battle.

But with all the concerted influx of human effort – there is one most needed especially in these times of trouble. Prayer.

Prayers to the God who made us all – to One whose love for us is never ending – to One who cares for and accepts us despite our foibles and inadequacies, and even in the depths of our own spiritual vertigo. Yes, let our hearts join in prayer that God will fight this mysterious conundrum that is shaking lives all over the world. Because He is powerful; He is mighty; He is kind; He is all-loving. He truly cares, as He has sacrificially shown through Jesus, His son.

Pray with trust, hope and humility — as life goes on, with a purpose entrusted to us on this earth.

Linda P. JacobRead More »