Special to the Message
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Hope amid the COVID-19 crisis is the focus of a new ebook, “A Pandemic Proposal: Viral Vitality … Hope for the Human Soul” by former Baptist Press editor Art Toalston, with Norm Miller of Louisiana College among 42 individuals providing brief reflections.
Even amid the horrors of a global pandemic, Toalston writes, “a distinct vitality” can be experienced “in our souls, in our circumstances, in our relationships, in the world within our sphere of influence, and in how we each move into the future beyond the sorrows of the present.”
Such an assertion “may seem glib or audacious,” Toalston acknowledges but believes a vitality in Christ “can enhance our daily lives even in a time of social upheaval and widespread grief. A coronavirus pandemic cannot alter God’s creation of the human soul.”
Miller, LC’s vice president for communications and integrative marketing, drew from Psalm 23 in his reflection, writing, “Few in history have lived in more triumph and tumult than King David, the one who wrote: ‘Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life’ as recorded in Psalm 23, verse 6 (NKJV). His life traversed the vast distance between holiness and accursedness. Yet, he is noted to be one ‘after God’s own heart.’
“English sometimes does not capture the nuances of the Bible’s original languages,” Miller continued. “For example, the Hebrew word David used that is translated as ‘follow’ does not mean follow in the way we understand it; rather, it means to chase, to pursue. This expressed David’s confidence in, and his experience with, God’s pursuing goodness and God’s mercy. When a pandemic presents itself like a valley of the shadow of death, recognize that, though circumstance seems bleak, God’s goodness and mercy are chasing after you to comfort and encourage you regardless of the depth of dark that surrounds you.”
The 135-page ebook, available online at Amazon and other platforms, is written in what Toalston describes as “short stop-and-go sections for easy reading.”
More than 60 Scripture passages are set forth in the seven chapters of the main text; 45 verses are recommended for further reading, study and meditation; and more than 50 passages are addressed in the reflections by pastors and laypeople who add a grassroots type of perspective for the eighth and final chapter.
Other contributors to the book include former Southern Baptist Convention presidents Jimmy Draper and Jim Henry and Doug Carver, former chief of chaplains for the U.S. Army and now executive director of chaplaincy for the North American Mission Board.
Toalston, named among the “10 Most Fascinating Southern Baptists of 2019” by the SBC This Week postcast, was editor of Baptist Press from 1992-2015 and senior editor when he retired last fall. The ebook was named on the podcast as a “Resource of the Week” in the April 3 episode.
Toalston is the author of two other ebooks at online platforms, “Meditation & Morality: Praying for a Better Way” and “When I Meditate: Reclaiming a Key Face of Prayer,” and is on the internet at arttoalston.com; on Facebook at @atoalston; Twitter & Instagram at @arttoalston.