O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Thy name in all the earth! Thou whose glory above the heavens is chanted by the mouths of babes and infants, Thou hast founded a bulwark because of Thy foes, to still the enemy and the avenger. When I look at Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars which Thou hast established; what is man that Thou art mindful of him, and the Son of Man that Thou dost care for Him? Yet Thou hast made Him little less than God, and dost crown Him with glory and honor. Thou hast given Him dominion over the works of Thy hands; Thou has put all things under His feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the sea. O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Thy name in all the earth! Psalm 8
There are many themes that are included in Psalm 8. First, there is the theme that God is all powerful and majestic. The earth and the heavens reflect His handiwork.
What is the largest landscape you have ever seen? Most of us have had the opportunity to fly on an airplane, 35,000-40,000 feet up in the air. You can see a lot from that height, and depending on where you are in the country, you can even see several states at a time. Astronauts have orbited the planet for almost fifty years, seeing a large percentage of the planet at one time. The Apollo astronauts who traveled to the moon in the last 1960s and early 1970s, got the unique vantage point to see the whole earth at one time. And yet none of these compare to the majesty of God, which can see the entire universe at one time.
Second, in creating the earth, God has “founded a bulwark because of Thy foes, to still the enemy and the avenger.” (Psalm 8:2) The weather and nature have created an amazing “bulwark” to keep parts of the creation safe. Of course, the fallen nature of our world has allowed pathogens like the coronavirus and other illnesses to invade and infect all corners of the world, from humans, to animals, to plants. Illnesses, pandemics, and death caused by them are not part of the handiwork of God, but rather a result of a fallen nature.
There is a gulf, then, between the handiwork of God, His perfect majesty which is responsible for the creation, and the fallen world that this year has so much crisis, strife, sickness and death. The gap is bridged through the person of Jesus Christ, Who was made a little less than God. That does not mean He was not God, but that He became like one of us, so that He could again crown us “with glory and honor.” (8:5) Jesus Christ came to the earth to redeem us from sickness, death and especially sin, and to restore us to the former majesty and dignity that we had shared with God before the Fall of man.
The coronavirus is not a result of the will of God but of the brokenness of humanity. God only created things which are good. As we read in James 1:17, “every good endowment and perfect gift is from Above, coming down from the Father of lights with Whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” Only good things are from God. The coronavirus is a devastating sickness. Thus, it’s source is not from God.
God is present in anything good that comes from the coronavirus, whether it is the hands of the doctors who treat the sick, the scientists who are developing a vaccine, or the hearts of people who are showing great kindness and generosity. The ultimate plan of God is for “all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (I Timothy 2:4) The coronavirus can be either a challenge or an opportunity for this, depending on our faith perspective. Yes, it is a challenge to our faith, as we see illness and death in many parts of our country and now increasing economic destruction. However, the person of faith learns to see all things “unto my (your, our) salvation.” In other words, this is a time to ask ourselves, “how can this situation lead me closer to salvation?”
This will not be the only crisis we face in life. It may be the only global crisis, but it won’t be the only crisis. Personal crises happen many times in life—loss of health, loss of job, a relocation, marriage crisis, etc. And it is in these times when our faith is built. In Romans 5: 1-5, St. Paul writes:
Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Him we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit given to us.
As this crisis drags on and on, it is important for us to keep it in two perspectives—first, the life perspective, that this is one short season of our life. Second, from the standpoint of taking things a day at a time. Both can be opportunities to glorify God, to glorify Him today, because this day is what we have, and to glorify Him in this season, so that when this season has passed, we can look back with joy that we were able to hold on to faith in time of adversity.
Prayer of Protection from the Coronavirus
(Prayer by Grace Bishop Alexis (Trader) of Bethesda)
O God Almighty, Lord of heaven and earth, and of all creation visible and invisible, in Your ineffable goodness, look down upon Your people gathered in Your name. Be our helper and defender in this day of affliction. You know our weakness. You hear our cry in repentance and contrition of heart. O Lord who loves mankind deliver us from the impending threat of the corona virus. Send Your Angel to watch over us and protect us. Grant health and recovery to those suffering from this virus. Guide the hands of physicians, and preserve those who are healthy that we may continue to serve You in peace and glorify Your most honorable and majestic Name, of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.
Glorify God at all times, and trust that faith in Jesus Christ is what will bridge the gap between the majesty God intends for us to have, and this virus (and other crises) that are the result of a fallen world.
The Prayer Team now has its own dedicated website! There you may find a database for past prayer team messages as well as books by Fr. Stavros and other information about his work and St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL.
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