It feels like it’s only been a few weeks since the initial news broke about a strange “new virus coming from China”. It turns out that coronavirus isn’t new, but this particular strain (COVID-19) is – and the medical community, as of now, is still unsure how to handle it. All we know is the virus has spread worldwide and people are freaking out. In all my years on Earth I’ve never seen such a globally panicked response to any threat. Businesses are shutting down, all major events are canceling, people are losing their jobs, grocery stores are being cleared out of the essentials (meat, water, non-perishables… and toilet paper?!).
Some professionals claim the panic, while real, is unfounded and only due to the media sensationalizing the issue. However, earlier today the Whitehouse issued an update asking all citizens to avoid gathering in groups of 10 or more, and to avoid public places as much as possible. Consequently, many (if not most) churches are heeding this advice and canceling congregational services, opting for online streaming alternatives until things calm down (whenever that may be).
I, personally, am not sure which is worse – the threat of the virus, or the fallout of the pandemonium. I recognize the fact that we should all use common sense, take the situation seriously, and plan for what we may need to do differently in these uncertain times. However, my questions are less about what the world is saying and doing as a response, and more about what God is saying and doing right now. As I took time to pray and meditate on the Word of God tonight, I found myself asking Him the following questions.
- Lord, what are you doing in all this?
- Lord, what are you saying to us – your church?
- Lord, what should our reaction be?
Almost instantly I found myself transition from questioning to declaring:
- Lord, you’re not caught off guard by any of this – you’re not taken by surprise; for you know all things.
- Lord, you’re not absent from this situation – you’re right here in the midst; for you are omnipresent.
- Lord, you’re not silent in this – you have the answers we seek; for you are always speaking.
Many Christians are brushing the dust of their bibles to study the book of Revelation and see what kind of end-time prophesy must be playing out right now. Others are looking to ultra-charismatic “prophets” to see what “new thing” the Lord is speaking through all this. However, before we go there, why don’t we consider what God has already spoken to us in His word. Let these scriptures minister to you during these trying times:
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
“Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?”
“Therefore, do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
“Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
“And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,[h] for those who are called according to his purpose.”
“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh.”
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
“And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”
1 John 2:17
The severity of the current situation surrounding coronavirus (COVID-19), as of now, remains to be determined since we still don’t know all the facts. However, regardless of the situation or severity, the Christian has an underlying hope in Christ that supersedes any calamity. We do not stick our heads in the sand, ignore common sense, or pretend things are as good as ever. We do not deny reality. However, we do recognize a superior reality – one that this reality is governed by, and which gives us peace that surpasses understanding.
Know this, Christian: if your peace and joy is governed by (or rooted in) your situation or circumstances, then when your situation or circumstances turn for the worse you lose your peace and joy. When your peace and joy is governed by (or rooted in) Christ – the immutable God – then no matter what your situation or circumstances are you retain your peace and joy. This is called faith, and you need it in the frenzy.
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”