“Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.” (James 5:13-15)
You and I are living in increasingly strange and unfamiliar times.
Streets are empty at the middle of the day. Businesses are shuttered. Classrooms have gone silent. Grocery store shelves are barren. Roads are clear during ‘rush hour.' And even most church buildings are locked on Sunday mornings. All of these conditions are the peculiar byproducts of a global pandemic that most of us didn’t see coming. And while most of us are currently living a sequestered existence in our individual homes, we are curiously connected to one another. Typically, no matter what global crisis is unfolding in the world around us, we Americans have a way of simply carrying on with the sustained banality of our individual existences. But not this time. We are all impacted by this particularly chaotic world event in a manner that ties our fates together in a strangely beautiful synchronicity.
The best estimates predict that a vaccine will not be achieved until a year from now. Then there could be 6-12 months of testing and drug trials after then. And the timeline that I’ve just put forth was described by one epidemiologist as ‘lightning fast speed’ in the pharmaceutical industry which routinely takes several years to develop similar vaccines.
In the passage above, James acts as a spiritual pharmacist who in an economy of words encourages self-reflection, self-diagnosis and a full-proof remedy for what ails us all. His prescriptions are not only profound in nature but also poignant in their simplicity. James manages to summarize the whole of the human experience by asking incisive questions and offering thoughtful prescriptions:
He asks if we are experiencing some sort of trouble. He then prescribes personal prayer.
He asks if we are ‘happy’. He then prescribes utilizing our happy emotions as a reservoir from which we draw praise and worship that results in spontaneous song before God.
He asks if we are sick. He then prescribes the summoning of spiritual leaders to pray for us.
James is, in essence, saying to us that God is our panacea (cure all) for all that afflicts us. And he’s stating that God is The One True Source ready, willing, and able to address the full spectrum of our needs.
Simply put, God is our ‘Person’. He longs to be intimately involved in everything and anything that impacts our lives - good or bad. But God is no Genie in a bottle. James places full responsibility for the quality of our connection with God firmly upon our individual shoulders. Social distancing notwithstanding, James’ prescription of personal prayer, personal worship and corporate prayers removes every excuse for despair, isolation or estrangement from God and those around us.
So no matter what you and I are currently feeling these days, we must always remember that we’ve been fully empowered to face all that life brings us. Are you anxious or frightened? Google God in prayer. Are you happy despite these difficult times? Download a Praise Offering to God right now! Are you sick of body, soul, or spirit? FaceTime or Zoom a spiritually mature person who can help you remedy the scarcity of your soul. Because you and I are not waiting for a vaccine.
Our Vaccine is waiting for us … And He’s open 24-hours a day.