Stephen Strang: The Spiritual Reality of COVID-19

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Even though I was trained as a secular journalist at the University of Florida, as a believer I see everything from a biblical worldview. To me that means God created all things, and there is an unseen spiritual realm as real as the physical world we see. I agree with my friend, the late John Paul Jackson, who quoted french philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin: "We are not human beings having a temporary spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a temporary human experience."

I also believe there is spiritual warfare at work in our world. And if we understand that, many of the things that otherwise don't make sense are understandable. I've spent my career reporting on the Christian community, the spiritual world and God's end-time plan for man. As I have written from the start, it has never been about Donald J. Trump. Although many like to critique, criticize and analyze his every move, this really isn't what God is concerned about at all! What happened in 2016 was a direct response to the prayers of the righteous here in America and beyond. It was a last-minute reprieve!

It was a period where God was willing to show His mercy, His grace and His love and give us just a little more time. The time was given not only to the American people but more so to the American church! Our mandate was simple: Do not act as if it's business as usual. God wanted us to repent as a nation and as a church! To begin to lead the culture again in accordance with the truth of the Word of God. To once again stand for righteousness and push back against the demonic agenda we were under so we could change the trajectory in which this nation was headed. At that time, we had seen decades of moral decline, a prolonged anti-God/ anti-Christianity movement and a death culture that continued to celebrate the murder of our most innocent societal members—our babies! Has any of this changed?

Now, as we look back at the last four years, has the American church done its part of the bargain? Have we risen up in prayer, fasting and standing for righteousness? Have we been outspoken from the pulpit and pushed back against the assignment of the enemy to morally bankrupt our culture and attack our children's minds and identities? Have we made progress in taking our country back from falling off the moral abyss? Have we done enough? I believe the moment of truth will soon be upon us, as there are two very different possible scenarios ahead. They are as follows:

We could see the president fully vindicated in each and every accusation, attack and plan devised by those who have opposed him. Not only this, but also, we could see large elements of the corrupt shadow government taken down. We could even witness indictments and arrests and finally see "the swamp" truly drained. This would be the best-case scenario. In this possible outcome, there could be a restoration of law and order, a fresh respect for the Constitution and peace and prosperity restored to our great nation! This could also usher in a new era of American ingenuity, renaissance, economic growth and, even more important, a great spiritual awakening and return to morality and biblical values. I pray this is our fate!

We could plunge into a period of tremendous unrest. The president could lose the 2020 election and be removed from power. We could see great economic peril and decline resulting in a plummeting of our dollar and global currency hegemony. We also could face immediate international threats from our adversaries, which could lead to an outright war. In addition to these things, there could even be an escalating civil unrest here at home. People could take to the streets in protest. Even with a somewhat smooth transition of power, the change in leadership could be enough to sink our forward trajectory, as there are many sensitive variables at stake. The whole situation is a massive powder keg.

There is also a third option where the president wins in 2020—stays in power—and yet we still see tremendous turbulence and unrest, as the spiritual battle between light and darkness rages on for the heart and future of America! What does it all mean?

I am concerned that if Trump loses, our reprieve as a nation and church could be over. God has given us four years of grace so we could be about His business. If that grace period comes to an end, I believe that will be a direct rebuke to the church and the fact that we didn't do enough, despite the tremendous grace He showed us. Instead, we in fact did continue with business as usual and basically lost our blessing period, ushering in a period of great sorrow and woes, maybe even worse than the Great Depression.

Although both scenarios depicted are not only fluid but subject to change and to be looked at through the lens of our own beliefs, views and interpretation, I cannot stress enough the importance of the time period we are in right now! God responds directly to the prayers of the righteous. We have seen this consistently throughout the Bible and history. What we do right now is utterly important! Will we respond in a manner that pleases the Lord?

Many Christians have not even understood the importance and spiritual relevance of this reprieve season of grace. Instead of activating, many have focused on the wrong things or remained in a spiritual stupor. Others have looked to the president to make the needed changes. This question is, have we really done what God has asked of us? Is it too late already? Or can we still step up and make our impact now? To those reading this today, this is no mistake. God has placed this message heavily on my heart for a reason! His question remains: Will you respond? I believe the ball is in our court as a church body. This is a moment of great decision. What we do and what happens next will determine a lot. Our very future is at stake.

Now, with COVID-19, which almost no one saw coming, I'm interested that a few modern-day Christian leaders who have been gifted to hear from God did see a plague on the horizon. One was Chuck Pierce—as I've mentioned in the last chapter—who saw as far back as 2008 that God would use the "trump card," which he later interpreted as meaning Donald Trump would one day be president. In September 2019, just as I was finishing God, Trump and the 2020 Election, Chuck prophesied (and wrote) that word saying the "nations would come into turmoil until Passover" (April 8-16, 2020).

It's one of the clearest prophetic words about what we now call COVID-19. Chuck said that around the time of Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the Jewish New Year, looking at the year ahead. Some have said he predicted the plague would end by Passover, but he said in writing that it "would test us" through Passover, and it did. Though the pandemic did not end then, Passover seemed to be a turning point.

The Lord showed me that the media and political structures would use COVID-19 to develop political strategies against the covenant restoration of this nation.

It's important we listen to what the prophets are saying about this matter. Even though the media gives us facts, those who listen carefully to God's heart can give us spiritual insight. Chuck points to two passages in the book of Joel as Scriptures that are prophetic for this hour:

"Do not be afraid, land; exult and rejoice, for the Lord has done great things! Do not be afraid, beasts of the field, because the wild pastures flourish, because the tree bears its fruit; the fig tree and the vine yield their abundance. And children of Zion, exult and rejoice in the Lord your God, because He has given to you the early rain for vindication. He showers down rains for you, the early rain and the latter rain, as before" (Joel 2:21-23).

"Hurry and come, all you surrounding nations, and gather there. Bring down Your warriors, O Lord. Let the nations be roused, and go up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; for there I will sit to judge all the surrounding nations. ... Multitudes, multitudes, in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of the decision" (Joel 3:11-12, 14).

I find these Scriptures interesting when applied to our global situation today. After all, this virus is affecting the entire world, not just China. That—not his supposed xenophobia—is the real reason President Donald Trump placed a travel ban on all foreign nationals traveling to the United States. He's trying to protect our nation. When I wrote about this in March as we were hearing scary projections of millions dying, I told my readers to respond to these prophetic words about the coronavirus by praying. Pray scientists can find a vaccine. Pray the church would shine with the light of Jesus in this frightening time. Pray the virus would be contained and wouldn't spread any further. Pray against demonic spirits of fear that would attack the nations.

Pierce says this about China: "A new day is breaking in the [Chinese] church. 'Harvest angels' are being sent to back the army of the Lord and His covenant people. China will be 'the nation of dichotomy.' It will have an army set against the purposes of God and His People. At the same time, however, China will send forth the greatest 'army of harvesters' the world has ever known."

According to a 2018 report by the Council for Foreign Relations, "China has witnessed a religious revival over the past four decades, in particular with a significant increase in Christian believers. The number of Chinese Protestants has grown by an average of 10% annually since 1979. By some estimates, China is on track to have the world's largest population of Christians by 2030." Think about that startling statistic: The nation that is striving to become the dominant economic power in the world is also seeing an explosion of growth as the persecuted church there continues to thrive. That is true dichotomy!

In March I interviewed missionary Dennis Balcombe about how Christians in China were testifying of being healed of COVID-19. There is no way to verify these testimonies. But I do believe in healing, and most victims of the virus do recover. When I've had the flu in the past, I've asked to be anointed with oil and prayed over, knowing God can speed the healing process. So far I've dealt with the health advice and the political commentary surrounding COVID-19. Now I want to offer a new perspective—a perspective of healing and spiritual warfare.

On my Strang Report podcast I recently spoke with Cal Pierce, founder of the Healing Rooms in Spokane, Washington. There are 74 countries that have Healing Rooms so far, and God is using those hubs of healing in mighty ways. I invited Cal onto my podcast because I came across a message he posted on Facebook in which he was decreeing healing over the nation.

On Facebook he wrote: "We, as the body of Christ, speak to this mountain of coronavirus. You spirit of death and fear, be taken up and cast back into hell. You will stop now and leave the earth. We decree that in 10 days, the world will acknowledge this turnaround to the glory of God. This is the will of God, established by the blood of Jesus, whose authority you must obey."

His post garnered enormous response, with many comments from encouraged believers who were ready to wage spiritual warfare in Jesus' name. Cal says this is the attitude believers must have right now as the nation wrestles with COVID-19. After all, if we stay silent, the enemy will continue with his agenda.

"The enemy has an agenda against our nation—of course, every nation, actually," Cal says. "Of course, our battle isn't in flesh and blood but against principalities. The enemy is trying to take God out of this country."

Cal says as God has begun to move mightily in this nation—by putting Trump in office and stirring up revivals—the enemy has been trying to thwart His plans. The devil tried to impeach the president, but that didn't work. Now he is using this coronavirus to stir up mass panic and fear in the United States, Cal says. "I believe it's a test that the enemy is making against God's people, because he wants to turn us from where God has taken us in this hour and . . . see if we're going to walk in fear," he says. "Because fear will bring punishment."

For that reason Christians must be careful not to give way to that fear and instead stand in faith.

"We are the body of Jesus," Cal says. "He's our head, and we're filled with Resurrection power, which gives us authority over all the works of the enemy. I think God's people have to begin to address the truth that makes us free."

But how do we walk in that truth? By choosing to believe God will continue to bring a great awakening to this country. "So we try to be proactive in these times and seasons and really understand what's going on and what the attack is," Cal says. "It's so easy to set our eyes on the earth. We're in the world, but we're not of it. We're of a kingdom realm. And we need to set our eyes on the things above and realize that God created the world for His kids, and He put us here to fulfill what Jesus wanted to do to bring His kingdom on earth."

In March, as the "shelter-in-place" orders were just being sent out, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, held an urgent briefing for pastors regarding the Chinese coronavirus and COVID-19. Rubio, a known Christian, briefed pastors and Christian leaders on a conference call, which I was grateful to join. "It's a reminder that we are advanced creatures because we're created in the image of God, but we're not God," Senator Rubio said. "There are still things—despite all the tools we've invented and all the advances we've made in science—there are still things in the world that we can't control.

"It's an enormous challenge that I think the church has a very important role to play in because right now people are scared," Rubio said. "I think people are dealing with some realizations of the humility we need to have. And one more point I would make is I think people also are being reminded of how trivial so much that we focus on is. A lot of things will suddenly appear very trivial."

Rubio said one crucial way pastors can respond to this need is by ministering to people in creative ways—even via livestream online. With so many feeling isolated, it's also important to do what we can to connect with people, including dropping off meals with a note, picking up groceries for people or even sending others to check on those living alone.

Prophet and respected author Jeremiah Johnson said he received a prophetic dream about President Donald Trump and the coronavirus (COVID-19). Johnson shared about the dream, which he received on March 16, on one of my recent podcasts.

He said that in the dream, he was taken to a baseball stadium, where he saw a slender man who was demonized standing on the pitcher's mound. In the batter's box was none other than Donald Trump, wearing a pinstripe New York Yankees jersey with the number 3 on it. Johnson immediately recognized that as Babe Ruth's number.

When he looked at the scoreboard, Johnson saw the count was three and two—and Trump was two strikes in. "I knew in the dream that the demon-possessed pitcher intended to throw a fastball right past Donald for a strikeout," Johnson said. "As I held my breath and watched the pitch come out, I was suddenly stunned to watch the ball be slowed down by a supernatural force in the air. And by the time the ball got to Trump, it was going very slowly, and he hit the ball out of the park for a big home run.

"In the dream I heard the voice of God say, 'The enemy has intended to strike out Donald Trump at a very critical hour in history. But behold, supernatural help is on the way, for I will slow down the advancement of the enemy and allow him to knock this out of the park. For it is simply a matter of time before the victory,'" Johnson said. He woke up with an incredible sense of peace.

I find Johnson's dream profound, especially considering we are in a time in history like no other. Never before has everything shut down the way it has in so many countries, including many states in the United States.

And Johnson isn't alone in his encouraging prophecies about the coronavirus. Thankfully, others such as Shawn Bolz, Kenneth Copeland and Chuck Pierce are prophesying a swift end to this virus. They're also saying this COVID-19 outbreak isn't going to be as bad as everyone predicted.

Time will tell, certainly. As of June 2020, the coronavirus had killed more than 100,000 people in the United States. And as of April 23 it was reported that more than 26 million Americans had filed for unemployment. According to MarketWatch, "The spike in unemployment has likely pushed the jobless rate to between 15% and 20%, economists estimate. The only other time in American history when unemployment was that high was in the early stages of the Great Depression almost a century ago."

But I believe God will show this country mercy—just as He showed us mercy by giving us Trump as a president when we least deserved it. Many other Christians around the nation and I believe God raised up Trump for such a time as this. Jeremiah Johnson sees a window of time that God has given the American people for a divine reset.

"There's a real recipe for awakening, especially in America," he says. "Some of the greatest gods—sports, entertainment—are being shut down. Schools are being closed, which is forcing needed relational proximity for marriages and families. Large churches and conferences are being canceled, which allows for house-to-house gatherings like the book of Acts. So I believe around the time of Passover, we're going to see [the virus] really slow down, but I believe in the midst of this, there's a divine reset. There's a recipe for awakening."

Stephen Strang is founding editor of Charisma. Listen to his podcast, The Strang Report, on the Charisma Podcast Network. This article was drawn from his new book, God, Trump and COVID-19, which is available now, and excerpted from the August issue of Charisma magazine. If you don't subscribe to Charisma, click here to get every issue delivered to your mailbox. During this time of change, your subscription is a vote of confidence for the kind of Spirit-filled content we offer. In the same way you would support a ministry with a donation, subscribing is your way to support Charisma. Also, we encourage you to give gift subscriptions at shop.charismamag.com, and share our articles on social media.

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