When I was a little girl, I remember waking up one morning in my Grandmother’s home to a mesmerizing sound. I didn’t know where the sound was originating from, but I was fascinated and transfixed by it. Maybe it was an owl or another type of bird? I had no idea what kind of creature it was that was making that strange somber call. When I grew up, I learned that the mournful sound was from a Mourning Dove and as I heard it, I was called to immediate attention.
While studying the book of Jonah in the Bible, I learned that the name Jonah means “Dove.” Jonah was one of God’s prophets who had been given an assignment from God to go to the city of Nineveh to cry out against their wickedness, but sadly, he was not a “Mourning Dove.” Jonah did not mourn for Nineveh and he also attempted to avoid going to the city altogether to warn them.
Nineveh was a powerful city with a lot of people and much money and influence over the other nations of the day. Nineveh had a big problem though. It was entrenched in wickedness. In Jonah 1:2, God said, “Nineveh’s wickedness has come up before Me.” So God wanted Jonah to be a mournful alarm to warn the people of Nineveh that He would destroy the city unless they turned away from their wickedness. Jonah disobeyed God and did not go to the city as God said to do. After his big fish detour, the prophet Jonah finally surrendered to God, went to Nineveh and warned them with God’s message. Their response was one of repentance and turning away from their evil ways. Even the great king took off his royal robes, which was a symbol of his dignity and mourned over his sin (Jonah 3:5-6).
Some turn to God when there is an emergency or crisis situation. It happened to America after the events on September 11, 2001. Many people were jolted by fear from the terrorist attacks and turned in their distress and sought God. Over time, things slowly returned to living life as before, with many individuals seemingly content with “business as usual” though they were left with a permanent painful memory. When warned, the people in the city of Nineveh humbled themselves and there was a reformation. God pardoned them from their death sentence because they turned away from their wickedness.
Our nation of America needs to turn away from wickedness also. We need to forsake our independence and place our dependence upon God. When we do that, we are truly able to say, “In God We Trust.” It is important to recognize our helplessness apart from God and trust Him with our whole lives. Jonah knew God as “One who is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity” (Jonah 4:2b). It is important to ask God to examine our hearts to see if there be any wicked way in us and to reveal any sin that may be hiding in us. As we turn to Him we can ask for His help to stop sinning in those particular areas so that we will live in a way that pleases Him.
I do not believe that the global pandemic, which began in early 2020, is some kind of judgment of God initiated in order to punish us. I believe that God is using this situation to extend His mercy so that He can draw people to Himself and call His children back to Him in humility, repentance and Godly sorrow.
The Bible says: But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:“God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up ( James 4:6-10).
God is causing all of us to evaluate our priorities and activities to see who has first place in our heart. Now is the time for God’s children to turn back to God and ask for fervent zeal to know Him more so that we will return to our “first love.” We can also ask Him for the desire to live a holy life that is motivated by love rather than fear.
God loves you so much! He loves our nation and wants America to be saved. This global pandemic is an act of mercy to give Christians an opportunity to repent for not loving God, and others, the way He has commanded us to. He wants us to turn away from sins like passivity, materialism, greed, sexual immorality, impurity, complacency/lukewarmness, selfishness, having idols, prayerlessness, and pride among other things. We must repent for being ashamed of the gospel, and in our silence, allowing the ungodly voices in our culture to become louder than the voices of truth.
Christians are being given a gracious extension of mercy right now to make things right with God. We are being given the opportunity to make the decision to get to know God and His love so that we can live for Him. When we know Him, we will be able to radiate His love and light in order to give hope to this dark world. As we are His light, things will get better for everyone in all spheres of influence in our society. This movement of LOVE that gives hope to our world is found only in Jesus Christ.
Will we be like the Mourning Dove and mourn over the condition of our hearts? Will we mourn and cry out against wickedness and unrighteousness? Will we mourn over our loved ones and others who don’t yet know the Lord? Or will we return to the way we did things before, when things have some semblance of normalcy?
This may be our last chance to respond to God. May we respond to His love and say, “Yes Lord, I repent.” It’s time to shine for Jesus like never before and to boldly profess the work that He accomplished at the cross for all of us. It’s time to proclaim His love, truth, goodness, hope, joy, and peace!
NOW IS THE TIME!
Dear Lord, May every heart in America profess “Yes Lord, I repent. I surrender to You and Your plan to love You and others radically in word and in deed. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven...A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance" (Ecclesiastes 3: 1, 4).
Mourning Dove Image by Andrew Johnson, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons