“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
Romans 8:28 has always been one of my favorite Scripture verses. It is so encouraging because it reminds me that no matter what type of challenge, I have faced God has allowed it to be used for His greater glory. I have been thinking a lot about this idea of blessings in disguise lately, given all the struggles and real suffering being experienced as we move through these unprecedented times brought on by a pandemic.
Whether the fears and concerns are related to an impact on health, on family finances, or both, they are real and can often be overwhelming, especially for those who do not have an active faith life. Every time we turn on our phones, laptops, and television sets, we are inundated with story after story of bad news related to the ongoing fallout of COVID-19.
As I say in my latest book, Conquering Coronavirus: How Faith Can Put Your Fears to Rest, this is where believers can make a real difference. Now would be a great time, since there is so much of it available, to think back and reflect on how a certain rough patch in your own life’s journey, resulted in, thanks be to God a positive outcome. And then share that story with someone in need of encouragement as well as direction. Despite the great polarization that has existed in our society, new research reveals people are much more open to the Good News. As a result, are being handed a real witnessing opportunity.
In Conquering Coronavirus, I highlight several surveys and studies detailing how many people are turning to God. The number of searches on Google for the word “prayer” has increased sharply around the world. The statistics were part of a report, “In Crisis We Pray: Religiosity and the COVID-19 Pandemic,” released by the University of Copenhagen. “I document that Google searches on prayer has skyrocketed during the month of March 2020 when the COVID-19 went global,” said associate professor Jeanet Sinding Bentzen.
Earlier this month, several other media outlets detailed some additional and very impressive numbers when it comes to an interest in reading the Word of God. The Bible is still the bestselling book of all time and that position at the top of the bestsellers list is not about to change any time soon. Several Christian publishers report sales of the Bible are through the roof with one publisher, Lifeway Christian Resources, saying they saw a 62% increase in mid-April. Fox News also reported that Alabaster Co., which focuses its Bible sales for the Instagram generation, saw and increase of 143% compared to last year.
Another major crisis experienced by our country and shared with the rest of the world was September 11th; a crisis that even 19 years later can remind us of how important it is to reach out when folks from all walks of life looking for answers. In my book, I suggest that we in the body of Christ missed an opportunity back then to build on a crucial moment when people were truly beginning to awaken to something beyond themselves.
“Fast-forward almost twenty years from 9-11. An October 2019 religious landscape study by the Pew Research Center found that Christianity continued to decline at a rapid pace, while the number of Americans with no religious affiliation, those so-called nones, are on the rise:
Both Protestantism and Catholicism are experiencing losses of population share. Currently, 43% of U.S. adults identify with Protestantism, down from 51% in 2009. And one-in-five adults (20%) are Catholic, down from 23% in 2009. Meanwhile, all subsets of the religiously unaffiliated population—a group also known as religious “nones”—have seen their numbers swell. Self-described atheists now account for 4% of U.S. adults, up modestly but significantly from 2% in 2009; agnostics make up 5% of U.S. adults, up from 3% a decade ago; and 17% of Americans now describe their religion as “nothing in particular,” up from 12% in 2009. Members of non-Christian religions also have grown modestly as a share of the adult population.”
This pandemic, much like the terrorist attacks, has been the great equalizer as it has brought us, in some ways, quite literally to its knees. Once again as we saw in 2001,those whom we were once convinced would never give religion, and most importantly a relationship with Christ a second thought, are suddenly asking the big questions only Jesus can answer; who am I and why am I here? That means we Christians also have some key questions before us? Will we make ourselves more available to help those searching? Or will we let this awesome opportunity to put the words of St. Paul into action pass us by?
Teresa Tomeo is an author, syndicated Catholic talk show host and motivational speaker with more than 30 years of experience in TV, radio and newspaper and spent 19 of those years working in front of a camera as a reporter/anchor in the Detroit market. In the year 2000, Teresa left the secular media to start her own speaking and communications company, Teresa Tomeo Communications, LLC and her web site and blog at TeresaTomeo.com.