Our faith calls us to seek God’s help in time of personal crisis, but also to seek God’s help for other people who are suffering. Intercessory prayer is one thing we can always do, day or night, on behalf of others. I like this Oswald Chambers quotation:
Another thing is to pray for and to support, are those are the social structures that aim at the well-being of all: health care and also economic opportunity, food and shelter, safe environments, and so on. The Epistle of James reminds us that faith and works—along with compassion for the suffering—always go together. It is necessary that we look after our own health, but if we are only individualistic about health (“Why should I wear a mask?” “Look at those fools who are wearing masks!”), we entirely miss the vision of wholeness and compassion that the Bible teaches.
We know that the COVID-19 pandemic has been hard on communities of color. Systemic racism leads to disparity of insurance coverage and the quality and availability of health care. (11) As we consider not only illness but social challenges, we are inspired to think about ways that racism is its own kind of “plague.”
In his book Covenant, Community, and the Common Good, ethicist Eric Mount lists things in which people in society share a common interest: available and affordable health care, education, food and shelter, public safety, economic opportunity, and other things. Based on the idea that all people are created in the image of God, Mount argues that we must care for one another—and for the common good—as we are in community with others. (12)
1.How important to you is intercessory prayer? Do you regularly pray for others? Do you share your concerns with your pastor or with a prayer chain?
2.Universal health care is a controversial topic. Where do you stand on the issue? Imagine that someone told you, “Our flawed health care system is a reason why Covid-19 has been so serious in the U.S.” What would you say in response?