“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1)
We find ourselves in unprecedented and uncertain times as the Covid-19 Coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc across the globe, claiming thousands of lives, shutting down entire cities and nations, isolating people in their homes, and putting life as we know it on hold. Though it’s true that the world has endured and overcome many pandemics in times past, this is the first time that we are witnessing such a phenomenon firsthand. Thus, it is normal to feel afraid. However, it is important not to surrender to fear and panic and become consumed with worry, for as people of faith we must know and trust that God is in control. The Prince of Peace, our Lord God, is always with us.
While it’s easy to trust in God when times are good and life is relatively easy and smooth, the real test of our faith is to trust in God when times are tough. God’s Word assures us that He will never forsake His children, that His love and mercy endure forever, that He hears the cries of His children, that He is our healer and helper, our strength, refuge and everlasting rock, our faithful and gracious Father.
There are numerous verses in the Bible which convey God’s assurance to His children. Let us hear and be encouraged:
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).
“Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10).
“Be anxious for nothing” (Philippians 4:6).
“Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9).
Therefore, let us conquer fear with faith, overcome panic with peace, and dispel anxiety with the hope and trust that this too shall pass and we will return to normalcy soon.
Around the world institutions, businesses, schools, and churches are closed, but the ears of our Lord are always open. From the safety of our homes we can and must continue to feel God’s presence and pray; pray without ceasing, pray without tiring, pray with faith and with a pure heart. As our hectic schedules have been put on hold temporarily, let us use this time wisely to evaluate our lives and grasp what’s really important versus what we have convinced ourselves is important. Let us make good use of this unique opportunity to draw closer to God, to build a stronger relationship with Him through daily heartfelt communication, to grow in faith, hope, love, compassion, patience, and perseverance. Let us spend quality time with our families and take care of one another. For us all and for the elderly especially, social isolation and lack of social interactions can lead to feelings of loneliness and despair which can be detrimental to mental and emotional health. Let us pray for them and for all of our brothers and sisters, and offer love and compassion to one another. Though we are separated physically, we can employ technological means to lend a listening ear and a virtual shoulder to lean on for those in need.
On Saturday, March 28, the Armenian Apostolic Church will observe the feast of St. Gregory the Illuminator’s descent into the pit. While we are confined to our homes for a few weeks due to the Coronavirus pandemic, St. Gregory the Illuminator was confined to the dark pit in solitude for thirteen years, yet he endured and persevered with faith, hope, and trust in the Lord. In his example we, too, will endure and persevere by trusting in God.
In these trying times especially, let us seek the intercession of St. Gregory the Illuminator and all of our saints to help us remain unshaken in faith, unwavering in hope, and unending in trust in our Lord, so that we may triumphantly proclaim, “I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears” (Psalm 34:4).
Let us echo the prayers of our forefathers and from the depths of our hearts beseech the Lord, “Come to us, God of our fathers, You are the refuge of the afflicted. Hasten aid to Your servants, be the helper to the Armenian nation.” Amen.
Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian