In the past four weeks, we have seen afresh the realities of this pandemic—overcrowded hospitals, patients waiting in tents in parking lots, over-extended frontline healthcare workers, social media feeds that have become obituaries, and deaths closer to our circles. As a result, Metro Manila and some provinces were placed under stricter quarantine measures yet again. We even reported our highest caseload, 15,310 cases, on April 2, 2021. The nation is grieving.
Added to that are our dire economic realities. Over 9 million Filipinos were laid off temporarily and permanently the past year, and the number of unemployed is still at 4.2 million as of February 2021. Food manufacturing, grocery stores, and telecommunications still thrived, but the rest of our businesses were badly hit. At least 75 percent of the economy has been shut down.
We are in the middle of the “dance” between the need to curb the rising number of cases and the need for the economy to open up. We want to loosen the quarantine so our economy can move, but only up to the point that our healthcare system can cope with the demands of the number of active cases.
This month, we will specifically pray for God to breathe life into our healthcare system and our economy. As we pray, we can find encouragement in the book of Jeremiah.
In Jeremiah 29:4–7, we find God’s words for the Israelites, people who have experienced war, death of loved ones, loss of livelihood, and eventually exile to the land of their oppressors in Babylon. In the midst of their difficult situation, God’s message to them is not what you would expect. He told them to “Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease.” It almost sounds as if God was insensitive to the unbelievable pain that they had gone through losing their nation. To top it off, God told them to “seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.”
What was God doing here?
God was telling them to move forward with hope.
He gives His assurance in verse 11 saying, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
Because God knows what He is doing, He was asking the people to trust Him and still find hope in the midst of their dire situation. He told them to move forward by building homes and families and to even bless a foreign nation because, in it, they will find their welfare.
The situation of the Israelites has several parallels to where we are today. God, too, may be asking us to trust that He remains to be in charge and has a plan, even when the situation seems to worsen. And in light of that trust, we may come to acceptance rather than grumbling and resentment. We may expect God’s move rather than languish in hopelessness. We may speak and act in courage rather than cower in fear right within our homes. Many of us are grieving and tired in many ways today, but we can cling on to hope because God’s promise is that this grief will end someday. Trust that God has a plan, bless rather than resent our situation, and build with faith.
An example of blessing others and rebuilding with faith are the many community pantries sprouting around. Even with all the controversy surrounding it, this effort is still a means for people to serve those in need. It’s encouraging to see many people not losing hope and doing something to flourish within the situation.
Another example is the people who have maximized online opportunities to be able to move goods and services, which resulted in the many delivery options we have today. Instead of being limited by our work-from-home setup, others have utilized it for greater productivity by maximizing relational connections, trainings, and lessons online.
People of faith can be undaunted because our God is undaunted. He even strongly assures us that He has a plan for our good, and we are right in the middle of it.
Finally, we can continue to pray in confidence because God hears us. In Jeremiah 29:12, God affirms, “Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.” May our prayers be filled with much faith and hope, and may the blessing we speak on our land heal it!
Bless our nation’s leaders. Pray that God will guide them with His wisdom and lead them to His plans.
Bless our healthcare workers and our hospitals. Pray that God will give them extended strength and resources to cope with the continuing demands.
Bless our economy. Pray that God would breathe life into the business sector and miraculously restore our production, manufacturing, and service industries.
To learn more about the COVID-19 situation in our nation, you can read the news in the links below.
- DOH case tracker (April 27, 2021)
- Rappler article on full hospitals (April 17, 2021)
- CNN article on unemployment, 4.2M jobless in February with 8.8% unemployment rate (March 30, 2021)
- ABS-CBN article on unemployment, projections by NEDA as possible effects of tighter quarantine (March 23, 2021)
- Inquirer article on food manufacturing, groceries, & telecommunications industries still thriving (December 7, 2020)
- Article on the economic impact of COVID in the Philippines (January 27, 2021)