In a recent podcast I addressed the question, “Could coronavirus ignite revival?” The conversation around this question continues to grow. While God can certainly use this crisis to position us for revival, the key is the response of God’s people. As a matter of fact, in 2 Chronicles 7:14, He gave the Israelites a pattern for revival in overwhelming circumstances. I believe His instructions can still lead to revival today, but four things need to happen.
Overwhelming circumstances should bring certain realizations.
First, there has to be a realization that we’re incapable of solving the problem on our own. People tend to come to the end of themselves when faced with enormous difficulty. That fits a pattern throughout history and certainly fits the pattern in God’s Word. The devastating circumstances God mentions in 2 Chronicles 7 are drought, locust, and pestilence (v13). Today, God’s people still have to recognize that only He has the power to heal and deliver.
We also need to realize what’s most important. Crisis has a way of refocusing our attention. During this time of quarantine, many are rediscovering simple joys and reassessing their priorities. You see, our great need is not getting back to a normal American lifestyle, but getting back to lives that glorify God. We do this by focusing on Jesus, obeying the Holy Spirit, and walking by faith – daily.
The pressing need is not even getting back to church as usual. Do we realize where the American Church was prior to this pandemic? We were very busy, but not very fruitful. We’re much like the church at Ephesus, who hated evil and were busy in ministry but had left their first love (Revelation 2:1-7). It wasn’t that they didn’t love Jesus at all but that they didn’t love Him supremely. I believe revival will come when believers love Jesus above all else.
Christians need to humble themselves before God.
“If…My people who are called by My name humble themselves…” Biblical humility is willingly submitting to the authority of Christ and conforming to the nature of Christ. It leads us to say, “Lord, we recognize our limitations and willingly submit to You to do what needs to be done.” Our attitude should be the same as Jesus – to glorify the Father and to serve His purposes (Philippians 2:5–8).
Revival requires humility. So, what does that look like in our current crises? Well, buying more than we need and hoarding is not humility. Nor is ignoring the safety of others. For right now, online church activities benefit the welfare of each local church and the communities in which we live. How can we ignite revival and share the love of Christ if we’ve not shown concern for their safety and well-being? Conforming to the nature of Christ means giving up our rights because we desire what’s best for others.
There will be a strong desire for the presence of God.
God also said that His people should “pray and seek My face.” That means desiring God’s presence more than His provision. It’s what Moses expressed when he said, “If Your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here” (Exodus 33:15). He didn’t want God’s promises without God’s presence.
The history of the great awakenings also reveal an awe and reverence for the presence of God. At times His presence was so evident that there was no preaching; people just fell on their faces in worship. Do we recognize the presence of God as our greatest blessing? Are we seeking His face in prayer before asking for the healing work of His hands?
I absolutely want people to be healed of this virus! But physical healing can bring an immediate fix while compromising an eternal need. Let me illustrate it this way: a drunk can find sobriety without ever meeting the Savior. He may live a sober and successful life, yet spend eternity separated from God. Revival comes by realizing that our greatest needs are spiritual, not physical. Seeking the presence of God focuses our attention on the Provider more than His provision.
Believers will have an acute awareness of personal sin.
The American Church talks a great deal about evangelistic strategy and church growth but very little about our need for repentance. Remember, the Lord was talking to His people when He said, “And turn from their wicked ways.” Although we tend to think of revival as the lost coming to Christ, it’s actually the reawakening of God’s people through confession and repentance. As a result, others place their trust in Jesus for salvation.
You see, it’s only in God’s presence that we get perspective on our own sin. It’s a barrier, keeping us from enjoying His fellowship. So, God reveals our sin in order to reveal His grace. Our genuine repentance is always met with His forgiveness. The Lord says of Israel, “…then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” In God’s pattern there is an eternal work before there is an immediate work because spiritual healing is the greater need.
So, will coronavirus bring revival?
Whether or not we experience widespread revival depends on our response to God. I sense an eagerness from believers to stay connected with one another, which is a good thing. But what if we really took this waiting period to get right with God personally? What if we stop waiting out the virus and start humbly seeking God’s presence, repenting from sin we’ve allowed to linger? If God’s people emerge like that, then I can see revival being released on our nation. I pray it happens.