Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Coronavirus and our faith

1st Peter 5:7, "Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you."

Greetings friends.  It has been a long time since I have written a blog; yet I believed it was necessary to jot down some things to think about as we process all that is happening around the world and in our own communities as we hear about, plan for, and think about this new virus.

As I am sure you all know, there is a novel corona-virus that has literally affected the world.  There have been corona-virus' before, but this one is completely new.  This blog is not about how it came about, from whence it came, or anything of that sort.  This blog is about how we as Christians ought to think, believe, and act in the midst of this.  The above Scripture is key to understanding our response.

We are not to fear but we are to cast our anxiety on the One who can act - God Himself.  Let us trust the goodness of God who died and rose again for us.  Do not fear - trust.

In order to get us to think, I am going to write down a few points:

To set the stage:

*  Italy has taken unprecedented steps in locking down the entire country.  Travel has been severely restricted.  The Prime Minister has asked people to remain home unless travel is absolutely necessary.  These kinds of steps have not been implemented since the second world war.

*  The virus seems to spread easily between people and from all reports the death rate is higher than the regular flu.

*  The virus seems to be spreading throughout the United States in spite of our best efforts in trying to contain it.

*  Schools are beginning to discuss virtual schooling; sporting events are beginning to discuss fan-less gatherings.  Many large scale events have been cancelled.  The elderly have been warned by the State Department to avoid long travel and cruises.

*  We are being assured that all will be well.  We are being assured that the above events, and others, are only precautionary measures.  Yet...there is still this lingering feeling in the pit of many stomachs that if this virus was not as dangerous as we fear, these steps simply would not be taken...

Alas, I am no medical professional.  I am also not, "in the know" when it comes to virology, contagion, or the spread of disease.  I have no idea how serious this threat actually is.  I have no idea if we are being told the truth or we are being lied to.  Could it be serious?  Yes.  Could we be being manipulated?  Yes.  Could it be a little of both?  Yes.  I have no idea at all.

So why in the world am I writing this blog?  Not to guess at what I do not know, but to remind us all of what I do know; for the Word of God states it - our God is good, He is in control, and He loves you.  Here are some things I do know:

*  God is real.  He has sovereign control over everything. Deuteronomy 32:39 makes it clear that life and death are in His hands. "'See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god beside me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand."

*  Every day that has been ordained for us were written down before one of them came to be.  Psalm 139:16, "Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them."

*  Our death was never in question.  We will all die, for we all sin.  Romans 6:23, "For the wages of sin is death."

*  Having said the above, God has not left us as orphans without any hope.  When we believe in Christ, He cares for us.  Please beloved remember that death is not the end of our story - not even close.  Jesus Himself tells us such wonderful promises in John 11:25-26 and John 14:1-6, "Jesus said..., "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?" And again in John, "Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going." Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

*  I want to finish Romans 6:23... "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."  Beloved, we have eternity right now.  No virus can stop that.  No devil in hell can stop that.

*  Remember Romans 8:38-39, "For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."

All this is not to say that we are to hasten death, welcome it, or look forward to it.  This is certainly not written to make people say, "well then forget it...come on death!"  That is not the right attitude; Christians are not called to hasten death.   Why do you think Christians in history were the ones to build all the best hospitals!  We are called to care for the sick - not hasten illness.  Death is an evil, disgusting thing that Christ came to deliver us from by His resurrection.  I remind us of the above simply to tell us that death is not an if question, it is a when and how question.  If this virus outbreak does nothing else for us let it remind us of the fragility of this earthly life.  No government, no matter its military strength, no amount of human preparedness, no amount of anything will prevent our demise.  We may die from a global outbreak of a virus or we may die many years from now, well advanced in years, in peaceful sleep in our beds.  But beloved make no mistake - we will die.  

None of this is to say that we ought not prepare.  We should.  We are called to love our neighbors and so we ought to love them fully - care for the sick and if we ourselves are sick we ought to remain home and get well.  We are called to submit to authority so if we are called to quarantine, quarantine.  There are two ways we can positively effect the world - through our good deeds and our prayers.  And please remember that the 2nd of these two options is by far the more powerful.  God is in our homes and our rooms - beloved pray that God would stem this.  Plead the goodness of God in the land of the living.

However, the last thing we ought to do is fear.  Fear is a terrible motivator.  Fear makes us think of ourselves.  Fear makes us envy and hate our neighbor when we are called to love.  Fear makes us do terribly foolish things.  Fear is not of God; it is of the enemy and it is easily manipulated to make us do things we would never think of doing with a cooler head.

Beloved, let us remember something: before this virus we were doomed to die.  Now that this virus is here we are doomed to die.  Before this virus we were given eternal life in Christ who defeated death.  Now that this virus is here we are given eternal life in Christ who defeated death.

Let us say with the Apostle Paul in 1st Corinthians 15:55, "55 "O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?"

Beloved, please remember God loves you and He proved it at the cross and the empty tomb.


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