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Modifying iPhones for facemask wearers and cutting the hair of medical workers: As we work, God works

Dr. Jim Denison is the CEO of Denison Forum.
His Daily Article and podcast globally reach over 160,000 subscribers. Dr. Denison guides readers to discern today’s news—biblically. He is the author of multiple books and has taught on the philosophy of religion and apologetics at several seminaries. Prior to launching Denison Forum in 2009, he pastored churches in Texas and Georgia. He holds a Ph.D and a Master of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Jim and his wife, Janet, live in Dallas, Texas. They have two sons and four grandchildren.

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Modifying iPhones for facemask wearers
A young woman looks at her smartphone while wearing a face mask on April 24, 2020.

In a sign of the times, Apple is testing a new version of software for its iPhones that will enable people to unlock their phones while wearing a mask.

Obviously, Face ID will not work if the user is wearing a face mask. Nonetheless, the phone is programmed to try Face ID, which must fail before the user is allowed to enter a passcode to unlock the phone. When the update launches, users will be able to swipe up to activate their passcode without having to wait for an error when Face ID doesn’t register. 

“This is more than just a haircut” 

“I have cut hair for twenty years, and I feel so proud. Cutting hair for the rich, for the famous, is nothing compared to these frontline heroes. They are the most important people in the world right now.” This is how Pornsupa Hattayong explains the work she is doing for medical workers in Bangkok, Thailand. 

Thailand’s hair salons have been closed for more than a month to help stop the spread of COVID-19. The forty-three-year-old hairstylist offered free haircuts at Bangkok hospitals and was surprised by the response. “They just kept coming. Some arrived in their medical gowns and asked if they could get a haircut right away as they had to go to work,” says Pornsupa. At that point, she asked her friends to pitch in to help. Their team now averages fifty heads a day. 

Pornsupa Hattayong gives haircuts to a medical worker treating COVID-19 patients at Bangkok Metropolitan Administration General Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand, on April 28, 2020.

She wears full protective clothing and douses her equipment with an alcohol-based spray between clients. She is making no money for her service, choosing to live off her savings instead. 

One doctor said, “I don’t feel like this is merely a service I am getting. It feels like more of a kindness given by a group of people to our hospital staff. This is more than just a haircut.” 

“I name you, though you do not know me” 

The question I am asked most often these days is: Why doesn’t God stop this pandemic? 

I understand the question, given biblical narratives where he parts the Red Sea, calms the stormy Sea of Galilee, and heals the sick. 

However, there are other times in Scripture when the Lord partners with humans to fulfill his divine plan. His omnipotence did not need Noah to build the ark or Moses to extend his rod over the Red Sea. The Lord did not need Peter to touch the crippled man who was then healed (Acts 3:7) or Paul to put his hands on a sick man in Malta who was then made well (Acts 28:8). 

I believe God is using scientists at Oxford University as they work on a coronavirus vaccine that could be widely available by September. I believe he is using hairstylists who serve frontline medical workers just as he is using the medical workers themselves. 

People don’t have to know they are being used by God to be used by God. For example, the Lord used the pagan king Cyrus to liberate the Jewish people from captivity in Babylon (Isaiah 45:1–3). In fact, he specifically said of the king, “I name you, though you do not know me” (v. 4). 

Before Paul departed from Caesarea after appealing to Caesar, the pagan Roman official Festus arranged for the apostle to have an audience with the pagan king Agrippa (Acts 25:22–23). No Christian in the city could have made possible the evangelistic encounter that resulted. 

We partner with God on two levels 

I’ve been writing these Daily Article Special Editions since March 17. This will be the last daily version; I will continue writing the Daily Article each morning but will return to writing Special Editions as events warrant. 

These second articles have been intended to help us fight fear with faith. As we continue our response to this unprecedented challenge, it is important to keep the faith that our King is still on his throne and that he is using us in his providential purposes. 

We partner with God on two levels. 

One is obvious: he calls us in a uniquely significant way to do something we would not otherwise have done. 

Jesus called fishermen to become “fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). He called Matthew from his tax-collecting booth (Matthew 9:9) and Zacchaeus out of the sycamore tree (Luke 19:4–5). 

The other is less obvious: he works as we work. 

Because we are the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27), as we minister to the needs of others, Jesus ministers to them. As we are present in their pain, Jesus is present in their pain. That’s why, when Peter touched the lame man, the apostle could say, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” (Acts 3:6). 

As we love, God loves 

You may not develop software that helps millions of face mask-wearing people use their phones or cut the hair of fifty frontline medical workers today. But if you will seek to love your Lord and your neighbor (Matthew 22:37–39), the God who is love (1 John 4:8) will manifest his love as the fruit of his Spirit in your life (Galatians 5:22). 

Commenting on the biblical call to love as God loves us (1 John 4:4–12), St. Augustine advised us, “Love, and do what thou wilt: whether thou hold thy peace, through love hold thy peace; whether thou cry out, through love cry out; whether thou correct, through love correct; whether thou spare, through love do thou spare: let the root of love be within, of this root can nothing spring but what is good.

As God loves, we love. As we love, God loves.

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