I recently saw a picture in the news from the city of New Delhi, India. The picture shows a comparison of the air quality in the bustling city before the current Coronavirus crisis and now as life has dramatically slowed down. The contrast is stunning. As a creative, I tend to respond powerfully to visual images, and this image had my mind spinning.
I asked myself a question, “Is this current worldwide virus situation entirely a curse, or could there be some blessing in it?” Now, before responding in outrage at my audacious question, understand I am heartbroken by the impact of this virus around the world. I also have spent the last ten years serving as a short-term worship-leadership missionary to the nation of Italy, one of the epicenters of the virus. I know people who have died from this terrible pandemic, and many, who I consider family, are currently in lockdown throughout the nation. So a significant part of me is grieving for all the harmful effects of this sickness. However, I am still wondering, is it all negative? Is it possible that God is doing something through this moment that should capture our attention?
Let’s go back to the picture of India. Could it be that God is bringing an opportunity for a new spiritual “clean air” to replace the pollution of life as it was before with something more pristine, refreshing, beautiful, and ultimately, a blessing? I want to encourage us in this current space to look for the clean air of the Holy Spirit moving and stirring in our souls and surrounding lives. That fresh air could come in the form of extra time of prayer, study and worship with the Lord, an unplanned walk with your spouse, games after dinner with your kids, or merely sharing a smile to a lonely neighbor. We read in Romans 8:28,
“…that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Not all things are good, but I am so grateful that God can do good things through every circumstance. And in this season, might we choose to be aware of and take part in what our Lord is doing?
There is no doubt in some ways, things have changed for the worse. But could it be that God is allowing us to lead worship differently – in a way that doesn’t involve music – an approach that flows out of who we are and how we live daily? An opportunity to live lives of worship that then leads those who surround us to give glory to the King of kings.
I am praying for the end of the Coronavirus. Yet, as I wait for the answer to this prayer, I am also praying that I don’t waste the unique opportunity of spiritual “clean air” that God has given us.
Michael Bahn is the Executive Pastor of Creative Arts & Administration at River Valley Church in Grants Pass, OR. As a worship artist and songwriter, he records and releases his music, actively teaches on worship leadership and songwriting through conferences and seminars worldwide, and also serves as faculty teaching on Worship Leadership for Pacific Bible College in Medford, OR.