Unless you are living in a cave or under a rock somewhere you know about the Coronavirus. And if you are doing one of those things you are not listening to a podcast so it would not matter.
We want to give a simple response on the situation that is merely the thoughts of two pastors to those who might be worried or even afraid of this situation.
To date as of March 9, 2020 there were around 110,000 cases reported worldwide.
Many businesses in America are simply asking their people to self-quarantine if they do any travel. Many are asking their employees to work from home as well.
In our state, Wisconsin, the University system in Madison and Milwaukee have extended spring break for 2 extra weeks out of concerns for this virus.
Worldwide major events and conferences are being canceled and even nations are reacting to it wholesale, such as Italy is now on lockdown.
Angela Merkel of Germany just warned that perhaps 2/3s of Germany could contract this virus.
We are having members ask about it in relation to some traveling overseas that we are going to do.
Currently more than 800 people have died from this virus worldwide. The very old and the very young are most at risk if it is contracted. Or if you have a compromised immune system.
Toilet paper, hand sanitizer and water is in short supply in many stores.
President Trump directed Vice-President Pence to oversee the situation here in the United States.
In the Christian world there are those who see this as either the impending end of the world or God’s judgment upon the wicked such as transgenders and homosexuals. Then there are those who are canceling church services out of concerns related to the virus.
There is the humorous but sickening story of Bethel in Redding shutting down because of fears of the virus. They should be roundly mocked for their obvious hypocrisy.
So what do we think about all of this? How do we counsel in this sort of situation?
What this reveals about people:
People are more afraid of dying than they like to admit.
Wholesale freaking out by so many even though there is nothing indicating that they are at risk.
It shows how people are very easily manipulated as well. The press in America is using this to drive ratings and are showing little concern for accuracy and truth.
It is always interesting to watch people who hold to a darwinistic worldview react so badly to news like this. They should see it as a positive for evolution as it will weed out the weak and unnecessary.
Only the strong shall survive if this thing really becomes bad. And that is good.
And what it really reveals is how bankrupt that whole system of thinking really is. In theory, evolution is fine. In reality, it is vile, frightening and even monstrous.
People are lovers of money.
The stocks are taking a beating right now in America and it is creating a lot of fear in that way as well.Many were assuming the strong economy and strong financial returns were something they could depend upon and this shocks them in ways they did not anticipate.
People like to worry.
The number of conversations about this virus is fascinating.
Most people have utterly no idea about what it is, or how it works, but they all have strong opinions on what should or should not be done about it.
So many of the conversations we hear are built around the infamous “what-if”.
The amount of anger by some people because institutions and governments are not “doing enough” is staggering to us. What should be done? Few know, but we should be doing something.
At least in America, safety is one of our great idols.
“Think of the children” is our motto for living.
Risk and living in a world of risk is something to be avoided. We want everything to be sanitized and sharp edges rounded off and scary things to be made nice.
Everything needs to be known and accounted for and so when something is beyond our perceived control in America we freak.
What we must remember:
God is sovereign.
Even over something like a virus. He is the creator and nothing exists apart from Him.
We are reading through the Bible as a church and in Deuteronomy we just read about how Israel decided not to trust God when they saw the giants in Canaan and the result was 40 years of wandering until that whole generation died.
Though they saw the faithfulness and power of God over and over it was not enough for them. Safety was paramount. Comfort was the true god.
So we would simply tell people to go back to the bible and remind themselves of who God is.
Listen to the vastness of hope built into these verses:
"For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-- all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together." (Col. 1:16-17)
"Our God is in heaven and does whatever He pleases." (Psalm 115:3)
"The Lord has prepared everything for His purpose— even the wicked for the day of disaster." (Proverbs 16:4).
So we would say to a fearful Christian, why do you fear? Can you not see the sufficiency of Christ in this time? Can you not show a hope that is in the sovereignty of God?
We would say that events like this stand as a rebuke to so many who are filled with fear and anxiety yet say that they trust in God. Even more so to those who like to speak much of His sovereignty.
If God has ordained you to get this virus and even to die because of it, then nothing shall thwart His hand.
John 21 tells of Peter being told of the manner of his death by Jesus. It is not a pretty story and Peter looks over at the Apostle John and asks, “What about him?”
"Jesus said to him, "If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!" (Jn. 21:22)
We would counsel the same.
Stop worrying about yourself and others and be busy in your responsibility to follow Christ.
God is all-powerful.
"Once God has spoken; twice have I heard this: that power belongs to God," (Psalm 62:11)
"It is he who made the earth by his power, who established the world by his wisdom, and by his understanding stretched out the heavens." (Jeremiah 10:12)
"Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; Your judgments are like a great deep. O LORD, You preserve man and beast." (Psalm 36:6)
God does not merely possess power, rather power’s source is found in God. And being infinite then all power belongs to Him and it shall never diminish.
Earthquakes are merely the tiniest of shrugs by God and in the midst of a great storm Jesus commanded the waters to be still and they were.
So again, what power lies in a virus that exceeds our Father in heaven? He is the one who preserves us all.
So we would say to the fearful, turn your heart to consider the vastness of this universe. Consider the multitude of ways power is expressed in it. And remember that God sits above it all.
We are to see good in suffering.
If we were to become ill or even face impending death what then?
Do we abandon God and shake off our claims of faith?
Surely not. Surely we then kiss the hand that afflicts us and learn the lesson of giving thanks in all things.
We remember then the words of James in chapter 1. We consider it nothing but joy when we encounter trials and suffering. For we know that though the trials hurt that God is present. And in this we are being made mature.
We remember that we live in a fallen world and that death and sickness is the result of sin. So we should not be shocked when sickness comes rather we should be more shocked when it doesn’t.
If God has ordained that out of weakness His power is made manifest then we ought not be afraid of being brought low by illness. Rather we should prepare our souls for that time when most certainly we shall become weak whether now or in years to come.
We need to remember that death is not something we fear.
Paul reminds us that to live is to be for Christ and to die is gain for we are then with Christ.
Jesus said to not fear those who can kill the body but to fear God who can destroy both body and soul.
So dear Christian whom and what do you fear?
Finally, we need to remember the call to be witnesses of Jesus christ.
Use this time not to be like those around us without hope. But instead to model true hope.
Use this time to speak to those who fear death that they might know the One who conquered death.
Use this time to show kindness and grace to your enemies.
In other words, do not let the Coronavirus control you; rather walk in humble obedience to your Lord.