Green plant surrounded by dead leaves

Desperate times and different measures

These days I keep hearing the words “crazy” and “different.” This unparalleled health crisis is causing most individuals to retreat out of necessity, while others are heading to the frontlines to assist and bring hope and healing to people in need. Both places are the right place to be right now. Desperate times call for different measures. I personally, am in retreat mode, for the sake of my family and their health needs and concerns.

This mandated retreat is a different measure for most in our society, who are so used to the 24/7 go-go mentality of the 21st century. For many the retreat is offering a form of healing and hope in and of itself, which most people are unfamiliar with. It’s a measure I believe God will honor and use for his glory. Perhaps the rest and retreat will not only stop the virus from getting out of control, but will also allow some to stop and see the goodness of God in ways we never have before. Instead of feeling guilty for not doing the normal, maybe we can find a new normal that will fuel our souls in the future. 

My son, Cam, and I went walking around our campus the other night and experienced a new way of social interaction via window-to-window visits. We wanted to give away hope, while receiving it at the same time. It was wonderful to hear the voices of our friends and see some “I love you” signs being gifted to us. Desperate times call for different measures.

As for individuals serving those in need, I am beyond grateful. I have a friend with a condition that would put her in jeopardy should she meet up with someone with “the virus” in the ER. A wonderful doctor came out to her car in the parking lot and assessed her situation and agreed to treat her there in order to keep her from possible exposure to the virus. A nurse then came out to the parking lot to administer a shot, which provided my friend with a needed healing agent. Desperate times call for different measures. I also heard from a friend whose husband was supposed to retire from the LA County Fire Department yesterday. “Last week, with everything breaking loose, he didn’t feel like it was the right thing to do right now,” she said. I’m so grateful for his willingness to continue on during this difficult time. Desperate times call for different measures.

When Jesus was ministering on the earth, he often took different measures to bring hope in desperate situations. One of my favorite stories is when he healed a leper. While the rest of society viewed him as untouchable and “unclean,” Jesus saw a need and responded responsibly and lovingly. Matthew 8: 2-3 says: A man with leprosy came and knelt before him [Jesus] and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said, “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy. 

Jesus responded to this man in a way nobody had in the past. I can only imagine the man’s relief—physically, socially, emotionally and spiritually. No longer was the man an outcast. He could go to the market, eat with friends and family and attend religious events. A simple, willing touch took this man from lonely and desperate reality to a reality filled with hope. Desperate times call for different measures.

God, thank you that in desperate times, you use different measures to bring hope and healing. I pray for friends and family who are hunkered down at home right now, living a new normal. I ask for this different form of retreat to be good for their souls. For those who are homeschooling for the first time—may they have the love, grace, patience and wisdom to give their children what they need emotionally, physically and spiritually. I also pray a blessing of protection and strength for those serving on the frontlines, working tirelessly to bring an end to this virus and to assist those in desperate need. For those who find themselves alone, without their usual community, I ask for your comfort and presence to surround them. Jehovah-Nissi, place your banner of protection over the world, and keep us safe and well as we do what we need to bring healing and hope. Give us your wisdom and grace, wherever you are calling us to serve right now. May our response to all you are asking of us be, “I am willing.” I pray in the name of Jesus, Amen.

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Nancy Helms, Major

Major Nancy Helms is the Spiritual Care Director and Territorial Disabilities Ministries Director in The Salvation Army Western Territory.