Dear Citylife – Letter to Congregation from Pastor Um (4/22/20)

Dear Citylife,

I realize that we are entering into a new stage of our confinement which is very different than the experiences we had during the initial phases of our lock-down. When we first heard about this virus, many of us were in denial. We thought this might simply be like the common flu and that people were overreacting. Then, once we realized this virus was more dangerous and contagious and was being categorized as a global pandemic, we started to get scared. We became anxious, afraid and we panicked! 

Now we are entering into a different stage of our sheltered existence where we have resolved that this ban won’t be lifted anytime soon (perhaps another month), and therefore, we are struggling with many different emotions. There is a settled sense of loneliness, despair and deep frustration. And this has led us to become indifferent, lethargic, feeling stuck and perhaps unmotivated for our work and even for our Christian growth.

With any crisis, there is always a certain sense of novelty, especially in the beginning. That novelty has now worn off, and we are left sitting in our homes waiting for this to end with no clear end in sight. 

To this moment, I would like to provide this word of encouragement taken from Psalm 91:

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
2I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”

For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
    and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his pinions,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
You will not fear the terror of the night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
    nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.

14 “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
    I will protect him, because he knows my name.
15 When he calls to me, I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble;
    I will rescue him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.”

The psalmist is reminding us that since God is the Most High and the Almighty, we can look to him as our refuge, fortress and God in whom we trust (v. 2)! We can take confidence in him as our refuge and fortress because he delivers us “from the snare of the fowler” and “from the deadly pestilence” (v.3). The metaphor that is given here of God is of a big bird, like an eagle, who covers us with his pinions (feathers). We find protection and cover under the shield of his wings (v.4). 

Therefore, we should “not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the destruction that waits at noonday” (v.5-6). This description is simply using metaphors from warfare, conflict, and natural disasters to describe the challenges, adversities and opposition that we all face on a daily basis. Whatever those “arrows” or “terrors” might be, we ought not to be afraid.

The psalm ends with this rally of what God will do for us – his people (v.14-16): 

  1. I will deliver him
  2. I will protect him
  3. I will answer him
  4. I will be with him in trouble
  5. I will rescue him
  6. I will honor him
  7. I will satisfy him
  8. I will show him my salvation

Psalm 100:5 declares that “the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever and his faithfulness to all generations.” Because his faithfulness endures forever, we should take great confidence in these promises. 

It is almost as if God is rehearsing his vows to his bride! For those of you who are married, do you remember the vows you took on your wedding day? You may not realize it but the vows were in the future tense and not in the present tense. It’s “I WILL be committed to you….” God is rehearsing his vows and saying, “these are the ‘I wills’ that I will do for you.” Let us come under his protective wings, be shielded by his faithfulness and care, and trust him today!

I have really been enjoying our “Wednesdays with Pastor Um” sessions. Please come and join me tonight at 7:00p.m. – I would love to see your face. To join this meeting, please subscribe to our weekly Newsletter here or join our Citylife Social FB group to receive the meeting login info.

In his lovingkindness,

Pastor Um