A Divine Warning and an Appeal
By Doug Gehman
Two significant things were released on the world in March 2020. The first was a pandemic about which practically every human being on the planet is now aware. The second was much more subtle – a song – that has now spread around the world like another kind of virus. This one, instead of causing disease and death, brings life and hope via a heavenly Father’s gracious call to lean into life in the safety and blessing of family.
On March 11th, only three months ago, the World Health Organization officially declared COVID-19 to be a pandemic. Nine days later, on March 20th, Elevation Church released a song entitled, “The Blessing.” Written by Kari Jobe and the Elevation Worship Team, with involvement from Lead Pastor Steve Furtick, “The Blessing” has now gone around the world. It has been translated into more than eighty-five languages and performed by thousands of worship teams and churches on almost every continent. A plethora of YouTube videos have re-envisioned the song in the languages and cultures of people everywhere, from the Hawaiian Islands to Australia, Europe and Africa. COVID-19 triggered distress and insidious demoralization on mankind. “The Blessing,” by contrast, stirred an almost uncanny euphoria: a Divine impartation of hope, with a promise of wellbeing, to those who put their trust in God, and commit their lives to their families under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
Are these two polar-opposite paragons significant for our time? Are they an integrated pair? Do they have eschatological meaning? Maybe I’m being pretentious by asking such questions. But I’m not sure. Two million deaths… and millions more people alive, afraid, and vulnerable but inspired by a song. Maybe there’s something going on toward which we should be turning our ears and thoughts.
Two years ago, Senator Ben Sasse published a book entitled, “Them: Why We Hate Each Other.” In the book he states that “loneliness is killing us.” Among other things, Sasse cites the skyrocketing rates of suicide and drug overdose deaths in America. The figures are in the tens of thousands each year… and the numbers are growing. We live in one of the most prosperous nations in the world, the proverbial land of opportunity, but we fail again and again to find happiness. Sasse’s concern is legitimate, and relevant for our times. Too many people don’t have what he describes as a “thick” community, where people know and look out for each other, and are invested in enduring relationships.
Social media emerged about fifteen years ago to provide easier forms of community interaction for human beings – a connectedness with global ramifications through the miracle of the internet. Unfortunately, what started with good intentions is now too often becoming almost ill-advised, sometimes even toxic to healthy relationships. At the very least, we have discovered social media offers little more than a superficial social experience. Smiles can be fake. And rather than support each other, we compete for attention and popularity. For all of its great features, social media simply has not cured our culture’s loneliness and isolation. Add a pandemic that now forces physical separation – ironically called “social distancing” – we now live on a planet populated by lonely and deeply stressed human beings who suffer under the weight of a malady unlike anything in modern history.
I believe God is now giving the nations an opportunity. Through a gentle warning and an equally gentle appeal…
Some have called COVID-19 a “pause.” Perhaps we are being given an opportunity to reset our priorities. I believe COVID-19 is a gentle warning. Gentle because COVID-19 is not killing in the massive numbers of other pandemics in recent human history. But, there is no question it is scary, and dangerous.
Just as COVID-19 was publicly recognized, but before its dangers were impressed upon our corporate consciousness, a worship team in North Carolina came together to – in the words of Kari Jobe – “go after the presence of God and try to pen lyric and melody.” In that moment of prayer and worship “The Blessing” was created.
If COVID-19 is a gentle warning about disaster, “The Blessing” is an equally gentle appeal to something wonderful. It is a call from God to another kind of life. COVID forces upon us dreadful loneliness and isolation. “The Blessing” lifts us into something better, where hope and healthy relationships last forever.
I believe God is now giving the nations an opportunity. Through a gentle warning and an equally gentle appeal, He asks us to turn back to Him and allow Him to bless us, and keep us, and make His face to shine upon us, and be gracious to us, and give us peace.
The question is, do we hear it? Will we receive it? Are we listening?