Diagnosed by covid

Diagnosed by Covid

Many have had a fear of, and some experience of, a COVID-19 diagnosis in 2020. But maybe COVID-19 is leading to a different kind of diagnosis.

Back in March, before the first lockdown, my wife Kath and I thought it would be useful to get a thermometer. With all the talk swirling around in those days it seemed like a good idea to have some way of diagnosing whether we had the virus or not. But, along with toilet rolls and flour, you needed the wages of a sports star to afford one!

However, now, eight months later, I realise that I don’t need a thermometer to diagnose Covid, rather Covid itself has diagnosed me. This period of lockdown and restrictions, of Zoom and sanitiser, of empty buildings and phone lists, has shown me recesses of my heart that until now had remained hidden behind my busyness.

The numbers game

I hadn’t realised how important the marks of ‘success’ were to my pastor’s heart. But now we’re not gathering with about 700 people packed into our building, how do I know how we’re doing? How do I know how I’m doing?

And then there was the steady fall in online viewing figures after the heady days of Easter and renewed spiritual interest in the country. And as that interest dissipates, my pride and self-confidence takes another hit.

Rather than rest in the power of God’s word and his gracious sovereign providence, I feel my proud sinful heart stirred up. Rather than rest in the glorious truth of my union with Christ, I find my heart dragging me to find comfort in outward marks of ministry.

Lockdown preaching

How vulnerable and emotionally naked you can feel having delivered the word and yourself. At least we had the appreciation of the congregation as they left the building to help those insecure thoughts.

Whereas now, having preached to an unsmiling camera, although seen by twice as many viewers online, there’s only the odd WhatsApp comment and the occasional email.

Oh what a wretched heart that looks for its security in the praise of others rather than resting in the power of God’s truth!

Motives

And lest you think it’s only the pastor’s heart that gets ripped up and exposed by the demands of these pandemic days, what do they diagnose in the congregation?

As duty and tradition are shaken out, as craving for the sensational is dulled, as social cliques are dissolved, as the joy of live music is silenced, the motives for ‘church’ are probed and examined as never before.

The consumer mentality pervades more deeply than we were aware. The worshipping heart is not as hungry as it should be.

Thank you, God, for using lockdown to show us our hearts more clearly. Point us to the wonder and sufficiency of our salvation more fully. And let our joy flow from Christ more abundantly.

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