Is it just me, or is it TIME FOR SOME GOOD NEWS!! These days, it seems nearly impossible not to talk about COVID-19. The good news though, is that there is a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel in many different countries. Israel and the U.S. are now planning to begin opening their economies very soon. In many parts of the world, the coronavirus is over the peak, and starting to decline. We continue to pray that it will be gone very soon.
In Israel, they just announced that the economy will begin opening the first of next week, with a plan to be fully open within several weeks.
Even in the midst of so much negativity, I have been encouraged to read of many people (all around the world) who have chosen to let their light shine during this time. I’ve read multiple stories of good samaritans doing good deeds in the U.S. There have been many music artists sharing their talents virtually in concerts, live broadcasts, etc. I’ve heard of celebrities paying for food for the elderly.
In Israel as well, the light is shining bright. There have been stories of nonprofits helping the elderly and poor with free groceries and deliveries. I’ve heard from the elderly and at risk citizens of Israel who say their neighbors are eager to help them in whatever way they can. From delivering food and running errands, the spirit of goodwill abounds.
In Israel’s heartland, I’ve heard of creative examples of communities still finding ways to pray together. In Judaism, it is important to pray in a group of at least ten men (a minyan) whenever possible. With COVID-19, you can imagine that this has been next to impossible. However, many have gotten creative. I saw one video of the residents of a local community standing ten or more feet apart from one another praying their daily prayers in front of the synagogue. Another video I saw showed a street in one of the settlements with all of the men standing on the sidewalk in front of their homes conducting prayers together. In a large city, I saw a man standing in the middle of an intersection in the midst of several high rise apartments, singing the prayers at the top of his voice. The residents of the nearby apartment buildings stood on their balconies and echoed his prayers.
This week, there was a story of prayer from the Shiloh hills, but this time, the residents were praying for the entire world. Residents of Esh Kodesh (in the Shiloh hills) held a prayer service from the courtyard of their homes for their fellow Jews who are suffering from the Coronavirus. They didn’t stop there however. They also extended their prayers for those who are affected by the virus around the world.
Resident of Esh Kodesh and Israel advocate Nati Rom, said, “Hallel (a prayer containing Psalms 113-118) is full of thanksgiving verses to G-d and is known for its many benefits. We’d like to send best wishes and prayers to all coronavirus patients all over the world. With G-d’s help we’ll emerge from this global crisis so we can strengthen the relationship and unity between Diaspora Jewry, friends of Israel, and Zionism.”
Although there is light at the end of the tunnel, there are still a lot of uncertainties. In the U.S. and Israel, the economies have taken a severe hit. Small business and jobs are insecure. No one is sure what the next six months will look like after the virus is gone.
One thing is sure however. The God of Israel, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is still on His throne, and He has the world in His hands.
When Solomon dedicated the first Temple, he prayed for the nation of Israel. When he was finished, he also prayed a unique prayer for those who are not from Israel.
“Moreover, concerning a foreigner, who is not of Your people Israel, but has come from a far country for Your name’s sake (for they will hear of Your great name and Your strong hand and Your outstretched arm), when he comes and prays toward this temple, hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to You, that all peoples of the earth may know Your name and fear You, as do Your people Israel, and that they may know that this temple which I have built is called by Your name.” (1 Kings 8:41-43)
After the dedication of the Temple, God appeared to Solomon and told him that when He sends pestilence among His people, if they will humble themselves and pray, and seek His face, then He will forgive their sin and heal their land.
I’ve heard reports of unprecedented numbers of Americans turning to God in this crisis. I would urge you to take the prayer of Solomon to heart – as you turn to God, humble yourself, pray, and seek His face – look towards Zion. Solomon requested from God that when people pray towards Jerusalem, that He would hear their prayer. God answered Solomon that night with a promise for healing during times of pestilence.
Let us all seek God’s face, look towards Zion, and emerge from this crisis as stronger sons of the one true God.