TRUST IN THE LORD AND ACT RESPONSIBLY: STATEMENT BY PASTOR JEFF KELLEY, GRACE BAPTIST CHURCH : NOVEMBER 21, 2020
During the attack on Pearl Harbor, the soldiers were forced, as a result of equipment failure, to pass ammunition through a “bucket brigade” of sorts to the guns. The men on the lines were tired and likely fearful from the intense battle. Walking along the lines was Chaplain Howell Forgy who uttered a now famous phrase that inspired not only the weary sailors but a nation. “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.”
As I reflected on the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic, this phrase took on new meaning. The world is fixated on finding a cure for this deadly virus. In the interim the world is adapting to a new normal. Masks, which were once deemed standard attire only for medical and dental facilities, has now developed into its own fashion industry not to mention media market. Hand sanitizer, once utilized primarily by those with germ phobias or by those with immunosuppressed health concerns, is a staple of every business establishment. Who would have thought that toilet paper would become the most sought out product of 2020 with stores shelves empty and customers searching from store to store to obtain the limited quantify allowed?
At the same time, there are some who see no case for concern. Citing statistics one extreme argues for the old normal, no masks, business as usual and no restrictions. Pointing out that statistically that there are more fatalities caused by other health concerns, some see little to no risk from COVID-19. Some have even argued that we’ll all be better after everyone gets COVID and recovers and moves on.
Well, I can’t accept the notion that COVID-19 is all a hoax. From my own personal perspective, I cannot recall having ever heard in my fifty-four years of life of anyone who died from the flu. Yet I can rather quickly count a handful of individuals within my circle of dealings who have died from COVID-19. In addition, there are a host of others who, although they survived, faced extreme and frightening circumstances and some who continue to suffer adverse health effects.
This is not to suggest that some, including the media, have used the circumstances of the virus for their own agendas. It is nearly impossible to know what to believe based on media reports. Politicians and others with agendas, on both sides of the aisle, have unquestionably used these circumstances for their own agendas.
Well enough – but where does that leave us. Psalm 20:7 has long been a favorite verse of mine and once again, as I pondered the current circumstances in which we find ourselves, I was remind of this verse.
Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.
In fact, it was if a paraphrase came to mind.
Some trust in masks, and some in remdesivir: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.
What should be the response of the believer in these anxious and troubled times?
It would seem to me that our response should be, “Trust the Lord and act responsibility.”
Our trust should first and foremost be in God. Heaven is not scrambling to deal with COVID-19. God knew of COVID-19 in eternity past and He is not the least troubled by its presence. He is the Great Physician and knows the cure.
This is not to promote a fatalistic response. Rather, trusting God is a calm repose for the anxious heart. It is the only option for the believer.
Yet, this does not absolve us of our responsibilities. Just because God has promised to care for His own does not give me the permission to drive my automobile furiously like Jehu drove his chariot. On the contrary, I have a responsibility to act responsibly while trusting God.
That would seem to indicate that if masks are beneficial in reducing the spread of COVID-19, I will wear a mask. If social distancing will help protect the safety of not just me and my family but others as well, then I’ll keep my distance as we talk. If using hand sanitizer and adding additional cleaning methods will protect others, then we will alter our procedures to promote good health.
I will not, however, transfer my trust to a mask, social distancing, hand sanitizer, disinfectants, or drugs. I will trust the Lord and act responsibly.
We have been greatly blessed at Grace and the entire congregation has done of good job of acting responsibly. In recent weeks, however, there seems to be a significant increase in COVID-19 cases in our community. As a matter of fact, Pickens County is apparently the leading county in the State of South Carolina with regard to COVID-19.
Based on the information of which I am aware, we have only had one case of COVID-19 directly impact our congregation. For that we give praise to God and take no credit to ourselves. Yet we want to continue to act responsibly while keeping our trust in God.
So I am asking for several commitments:
- Remain vigilant
This is no time to get careless. Although we do not require masks before, during or after our services, masks are available for those who do not have one and desire one.
Let’s continue to maintain social distance and respect that when one backs away they are not being rude or inconsiderate but may be wrestling with their own fears and concerns.
We have placed new sanitizing stations in the entry-ways and we encourage you to take advantage of them.
In addition, we will return to using only the front doors for entrance and exit. We will open these doors prior to and at the end of services so as to avoid the necessity of touching the door handles. Please note that those with difficulty climbing the front steps are more than welcome to enter side door with the handicap accessible ramp.
- Keep your trust in God
While this is no time for getting careless, it is also not a time for transferring our trust. Act responsibly but put all your trust in God. Remember, “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.”
- Pray for those who are sick
There are many around the world who are sick with this virus. There are many around us, in close proximity, who are suffering in varying degree, with this virus. James instructs us that “the prayer of faith shall save the sick” (James 5:15).
Pray for your friends, but pray for others as well. In this pandemic, I have prayed for those who don’t really consider me their friend. That’s ok – I have still prayed for them.
Pray for churches and pastors. These days require great wisdom to navigate difficult decisions. Pray for the safety of your church and that churches will continue to be able to gather together as congregations. Pray for those who are not allowed to meet and face great difficulties with government restrictions.
- Give praise to God for His mercy
It is disappointing that many will not be able to gather at Thanksgiving as has been the custom. Frankly, I’m disappointed that our house will not be filled with family this year. The excitement, laughter, fellowship and food will be greatly missed. But that doesn’t mean I can’t be thankful. If my “thanksgiving” is only to be found in the gathering of my extended family then my “thanksgiving” is rather shallow and misplaced.
Let us give thanks to God for His mercy. If any Thanksgiving Day should memorialize the first Thanksgiving, this should be it. For we, like those early Pilgrims, can gather with our families and thank God for His mercy and preservation during this year.
So let’s “trust the Lord and act responsibly.”
 Nikola Budanovic, “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition – The Legendary Army Chaplain of Pearl Harbor,” July 5, 2017, https://www.warhistoryonline.com/world-war-ii/praise-the-lord-and-pass-the-ammunition-bc.html accessed November 21, 2020