COVID-19 and the Gospel

Two weeks into the “Safer at Home” order, COVID-19 became more than news and statistics. I had been taking precautions (social distancing, face masks, sanitizing), making grocery store runs that felt surreal, telecommuting on Wednesdays and Thursdays. But that Monday morning, it became personal when I found out that a friend was hospitalized and intubated, and was not allowed any visitors, including her own husband. A few minutes later, I learned another friend had been informed that her father had succumbed to the virus. She would not be able to attend the funeral due to travel bans.

In that moment, I had a wave of terror that my mom would die in a hospital bed alone without knowing Christ. My mom is 78 years old and has obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes, and thus is in the “high-risk” group. I had another wave of pain about my father, who as far as I humanly know, had rejected Christ. I remembered holding his hand while he took his last breath, family surrounding him.

Mom had been resistant to Christianity, imploring my brother and I not to “push your religion” on her. However, when my dad died in February 2017, she started attending church with my husband, son, and I since then, weekly hearing the Gospel and the Word. She said she wanted to know more about Christianity since it was so important to both my brother and I, who had both attended seminary. Mom has attended church retreats and been involved in other church gatherings. Nonetheless, she would deflect conversations about Christianity, or make comments such as, “What about my Buddhist/Jewish/Atheist friends?”

I shared my fears about my mom with my husband, brother, and brother’s wife, and we decided that the best thing to do would be to write her a letter. If we tried to talk to her, it was likely that she would deflect, and if we pushed too hard, she would likely get emotional and shut down or get very angry with us. We knew we were crossing some cultural barriers.

I wrote her a heartfelt letter with Romans 10:8-13, inviting her to confess that Jesus is Lord, believe that God raised Him from the dead, and call upon His name. Her response was that she received my letter and read it, and that she wanted to respond in writing as well, “but my answer is not going to be what you want to hear.” I told her I loved her. She went home.

I went to the piano and played this song (although I don’t agree with the lyrics “These are the word I never speak, because they’d embarrass you”, and it is much more than my not wanting to be without her, it conveys part of the ache I have for my mom to make Jesus Christ her Lord and Savior):

I Don’t Want To Be Without You

This song is by Margaret Becker and appears on the album The Reckoning (1988).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kc2Eza7FWF4

These are the words
I never speak
‘Cause they’d embarrass you
But they’re haunting me

These are the tears
You never see
They’re foolish to you
But they’re drowning me

Tell me what is wrong?
What can I do
To make this simple truth
More true to you
I don’t want to argue
Hear me with your heart
I don’t want to be without you

These are the arms
That ache for you
Frightened to push too hard
Frightened you’ll slip right through

This is the joy
I want you to know
You say it’s good for me
But, leave you alone
Well, I can’t walk away
Won’t leave you here
When I am so sure
We could always be near
I know a place
Where we can meet

I don’t want to be without you

These are the words
I never speak
‘Cause they’d embarrass you
But they keep haunting me

I don’t want to be
I don’t want to be
I don’t want to be
Without you

Please believe, please believe

And now, I must return to one the passages from His Word of life that sustained me after my father’s death:

Isaiah 55:1–13 (ESV)

The Compassion of the Lord

55 “Come, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
   Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food.
   Incline your ear, and come to me;
hear, that your soul may live;
and I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
my steadfast, sure love for David.
   Behold, I made him a witness to the peoples,
a leader and commander for the peoples.
   Behold, you shall call a nation that you do not know,
and a nation that did not know you shall run to you,
because of the Lord your God, and of the Holy One of Israel,
for he has glorified you.

   “Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call upon him while he is near;
   let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
   For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
   For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

10    “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
11    so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

12    “For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
shall break forth into singing,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
13    Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
and it shall make a name for the Lord,
an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”

Heavenly Father,

I beg of You to give my mother salvation! Thank you that You hear my ache for my mother, and that You are near to me and my broken heart (Psalm 38:17; Psalm 23:4; Matt 5:3). I remember that You desire that all be saved (1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9; Ezekiel 18:23; Matthew 23:37) and the Words my mother has heard will not return empty, but accomplish Your purposes (Isaiah 55:11). I cling to the knowledge that Your knowledge is beyond my comprehension (Romans 11:33–36; Colossians 2:3) and Your ways higher than mine (Isaiah 55:9, 2 Corinthians 4:16-18). Help me to set my mind on the things above (Colossians 3:1-2) and look to Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). Let me hold fast to the confession of my hope without wavering, for You are faithful (Hebrews 10:23).

In Jesus’ Name,
Amen

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