How does one discern the will of God in a time of crisis and danger? Such is the question posed by Pauline Wanjiru Njiru in her new reflection on the Prophet Jeremiah’s counsel to exiles in Babylon.
The coronavirus has given rise to misinformation and distortion, as well as evolving and sometimes conflicting scientific advice. Even religious leaders and prominent preachers have struggled to address the practical consequences of the pandemic for their congregations, let alone its profound theological challenges.
The situation, says Njiru, “leads us to grapple with the question of all ages: how do we discern the voice of God in difficult times when, as often happens, false prophecy sounds convincing and true prophecy is hard to take in, accept, or believe?”
Reflecting on Jeremiah’s passionate but wise pleas, she says, can help Christians navigate the “true and false prophecies” of our age—which includes not only conflicting advice but also competing narratives of the virus, stigmatizing of its victim, and pastoral malpractice—to arrive at authentic and responsible action.
“This text is an invitation for people facing challenging moments and situations, such as ourselves, to adapt, and try to make life meaningful in unusual times,” she writes.
Njiru’s new study is the latest in a series of biblical reflections composed in response to the coronavirus pandemic and published as Healing the World.
Author Rev. Pauline Wanjiru Njiru, based in Nairobi, Kenya, is regional coordinator for Eastern Africa in the Ecumenical HIV and AIDS Initiatives and Advocacy (WCC-EHAIA) programme.