Immerse Yourself in Hope During the Pandemic

Global catastrophes change the world, and this pandemic is very much akin to a major war. Even if we contain the Covid-19 crisis within a few months, the legacy of this pandemic will live with us for years, perhaps decades to come. It will change the way we move, build, learn, and connect. There is simply no way that our lives will resume as if this had never happened.”

Professor Aisha Ahmad, University of Toronto

Having suffered through some of the world’s worst catastrophes, people who aren’t strangers to suffering can give us a truer perspective. Professor Ahmad’s point of view (indeed her whole life) has been shaped by living in “conditions of war, violent conflict, poverty, and disaster in many places around the world. . . .  food shortages and disease outbreaks, as well as long periods of social isolation, restricted movement, and confinement.”

She reminds us that trouble, suffering, and the hard places of life always leave their mark—either creating bitterness and hardness or deepening us with what she describes as a “wisdom born of suffering, because calamity is a great teacher.”

That’s a statement that cannot be taken too seriously and warrants deeper probing. I think of Job and Naomi. How much can we learn from the suffering they both endured and the questions about God their losses compelled them to ask? How do the life and teachings of Jesus and the letters of his apostles frame today’s deadly pandemic with hope and give us the courage we need to keep going?

We are all struggling, fearful, and wondering when this will all stop. We’re understandably worried over the staggering loss of life and livelihood that Covid-19 will leave in its wake. We could all use a bracing word of hope.

The Institute for Bible Reading (IFBR) is extending a helping hand.

To ease the isolation and disorientation of the pandemic, they’re offering a free downloadable resource of the Gospel Luke and the book of Acts, along with everything you need for a two-week community book club to do online with friends, at home with family, or on your own.

To learn more see  Immerse from Home

IFBR’s goal is to help people read and understand the Bible. To that end, they’ve republished the New Living Bible (NLT) translation in an inviting format that restores the beauty of the biblical text before all the chapter and verse numbers were added. They’ve included helpful introductions and background information for each book of the Bible.

Whole church congregations are now immersed in reading the Bible together with small group book clubs meeting for discussions.

I’ve been an advocate for IFBR’s Immerse Bible Reading series from the start and am honored to serve on their Advisory Board. I love this new approach and the NLT. I’m currently reading Paul’s epistles in the Immerse New Testament volume Messiah along with The New Testament in Its World—the newly released 4.5 pound New Testament introduction co-authored by N.T. Wright and Michael F. Bird. What a feast!

So download Immerse from Home and savor the encouragement that comes from Jesus’ life, ministry, death, resurrection, and the power of his love for you. Draw hope from the ongoing life-changing work of his Spirit against all odds in the history of the early church and into the present. We need these strong reminders today that God has not abandoned us but is in the struggle with us. We have solid reasons for hope, for he is still moving his good purposes forward for us and for his world.

Or as C.S. Lewis says, “Aslan is on the move.”

About carolyncustisjames
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