Seek God’s Help in These Challenging Times

Islamic Center of America on Ford Road in Dearborn, Michigan (photo: iStock by Getty Images).

COVID-19 targets us as a single vulnerable people. Creed, color and status mean nothing to it.

Whether we're a Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh or none, we’re confronting one enemy.

So, where’s God?

I looked for the answer among my interfaith partners. I wanted to ask them, as believers, how do you seek God’s help in these challenging times?

I found unanimity: No matter who they pray to and how they supplicate, they use the power of prayer to gain strength in this hour of need through the divine connection. I sensed, in forced social disconnecting, there’s a yearning to connect with the creator.

The Rev. Jack Diehl, pastor emeritus of Our Savior Lutheran Church and leader of the interfaith group in Vero Beach, shared his thoughts with me: “As we face this uncharted territory, by the grace of God, may we learn from our strengths and weaknesses.”

Following up on Jack’s words, I polled members of the interfaith clergy group, many of them hospital chaplains, who meet monthly at Cleveland Clinic Indian River Hospital.

I learned: When believers face a national threat, they bank on the universal God as their armor against a foe — giving real meaning to "One nation under God" and "In God we trust."

Rabbi Michael Birnholz of Temple Beth Shalom said he invokes God: “My soul I give to You. My spirit in your care. Draw me near. I shall not fear. Safely in your hand.”

The Rev. Joe LaGuardia, First Baptist Church of Vero Beach, offered his prayer: “Lord, in this time of uncertainty, You are our refuge. As the Earth moves and the oceans roar, You are our hiding place. When we are anxious, You call us to the stable home of your presence. Though mountains quake, we behold your work and give You praise.”

Dan Kroger, director of music and liturgy at Holy Cross Catholic Church, shared the Diocesan prayer for God’s protection: “We turn to You and implore your protection and healing as we face a new threat to our health and peaceful well-being in the pandemic before us. Help us be united with each other.”

Imam Ahmed Derrick is from the Muslim Friends of Florida Mosque I attend in Fort Pierce. He offered me the wisdom from the Quran (9:51): “Nothing will afflict us except that which God has ordained for us, and He is our custodian. In God, let the believers put their trust.”

Swami Dhumvati of Kashi Ashram in Sebastian offered these words: “When we cannot wrap our arms around each other, let us find ways to be the loving embrace of God to our neighbors.”

David Kimball, chaplain of the American Humanist Association, gave some enlightening advice and hope: “May those in political and social power be enlightened in leadership. May those who are stricken be enlightened by hope.”

Amen to all those pleadings.

Churches, synagogues and mosques may shut their doors to keep this invader out, but it can’t lock God out. This scourge may infect body, but prayers offer the spirit relief and hope in sickness — a reason why hospitals offer spiritual spaces and hospital chaplains comfort patients in trying times.

From the Vatican to Mecca, the coronavirus is aiming to separate congregants from their houses of worship — church bells temporarily stopped welcoming, a prominent rabbi urging worshipers not to kiss the Western Wall, mosques replacing the call to prayer with calls of "pray in your homes" instead of the usual "come to prayer."

Undaunted faithful, however, continue to worship by Livestreaming services; never abandoning the healing hand of God. Zoom video technology brings study groups face to face. Web surfers may now experience a variety of spiritual messages — enhancing ecumenical interactions — as though God is fulfilling the prayer of someone like me who welcomes interfaith engagement, dialogue and unity.

David Kimball, chaplain of the American Humanist Association, gave some enlightening advice and hope: “May those in political and social power be enlightened in leadership. May those who are stricken be enlightened by hope.”

I also ask the Lord: to grant us compassion toward those who’re in need — that elderly neighbor, the homeless on the street, the sick among us — and to overcome our divisions.

Beyond our borders, as this pandemic knows no boundaries, may the Lord bring peace to victims of wars, oppression, violence, those confined in crowded refugee and prison camps — Chinese Uighurs, Burmese Rohingya, Syrian refugees, minorities in India, in Africa and elsewhere who are deprived of freedom, health care and security, which we gratefully enjoy in America.

As the governments, scientists and front-line medical professionals battle the coronavirus, the faith communities offer spiritual power to counter this invisible force.

Victor Ghalib Begg is a Muslim community activist and interfaith leader who lives in Fort Pierce. 

( Source: TC Palm, USA Today Network )

Related Suggestions

The opinions expressed herein, through this post or comments, contain positions and viewpoints that are not necessarily those of IslamiCity. These are offered as a means for IslamiCity to stimulate dialogue and discussion in our continuing mission of being an educational organization. The IslamiCity site may occasionally contain copyrighted material the use of which may not always have been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. IslamiCity is making such material available in its effort to advance understanding of humanitarian, education, democracy, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law.

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, and such (and all) material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.