When we experience something that is new to us, we often run to someone who has experienced something similar. Epidemics are not new, but in the case of the Coronavirus who do we turn to? Who do we ask? Someone said that you would have to ask a person living in 1918 to share an experience that might be somewhat parallel. The scale of this virus is unparalleled in our lifetime. When it comes to destructive things, new is scary!
A few years ago a politician was quoted saying “Never let a crisis go to waste.” In context, the statement was a cynical strategy that angered people–who would exploit a crisis for political advantage? But, there is a sense in which we should not let a crisis, especially something that is new, go to waste. We should examine it thoroughly and learn from it.
So, in the spirit of not letting this crisis be wasted, what can we learn or reaffirm?
1. Know that This Will Effect Believer and Non-Believer Alike.
Often we cite Matthew 5:45b for this principle: “...He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” However, this verse is about God allowing good things to come upon the wicked. It is not making the case that God allows His children to experience hardship. But, we need not look far to find that both of these statements are true. Romans 8:18-25 clearly makes this case. If you find yourself shocked that the coronavirus does not seem to be sparing Christians, your worldview may need a bit of biblical fine-tuning. Believer and non-believer will experience the hardships of this world. The advantage the believer has is hope.
2. Pray and Wash Your Hands.
An early heresy that threatened the church claimed that all things spiritual were good and all things physical were bad. It is easy to misread parts of the New Testament and believe something like this. After all, Paul often juxtaposes “flesh” and spirit to make the point that there are worldly concerns and temptations that must give way to the new life in the Spirit. But, by making this point, Paul is not opposing God, who created our bodies and souls and said “it is good”. The flesh may be as of yet awaiting redemption, but that does not mean it is vile any more than the whole creation, which also “groans” as if in pains of childbirth, awaiting its liberation from bondage to decay. All this is to say that the spiritual act of prayer is right and good, but so is the practical act of washing your hands. Let us be spiritually and physically proactive!
3. Know Where Your Help Comes From.
I lift up my eyes to the hills— where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1-2
The scandal of our time is that we struggle with knowing who to trust. We have access to more news and information than ever before, and yet we are left wondering. Does this begin with a stuffy nose? Is it a scandal that test kits are not available? Should we travel from state to state? It does not help that our governmental leaders are at odds with each other regarding what to fund, order, and cut. News outlets persist with roasting the other side when clearly this is a time when we should be acting together. This crisis is definitely a reminder to all believers that ultimately we dare not trust our entire selves to worldly institutions. No matter how serious, strong, and assuring the leader presents themselves to be at the microphone, they are still fraught with the same human frailties and limitations that we all are. Government and institutions can be God’s servants and help improve life for everyone, and modern medicine is often amazing and we rejoice over every treatment and cure; however, mankind’s contribution to ultimate salvation is akin to bringing sunblock to a forest fire. Turn to God first, foremost, and always.
4. Let Church be Family
It is a little unsettling for Americans when we look on a store shelf and find that the item we seek is not in stock. A couple of weeks ago I was quite put out that Hy Vee did not have my anchovies, even though in truth I am probably the only person in the county that desires to purchase these. Now, it is very difficult to find toilet paper. We are spoiled. Times are coming when we will need others. That time may be during coronavirus or another world crisis, or maybe it will be a personal crisis. It is important that the church is ready to live up to its mandate of being the hands and feet of Jesus. We must not let anything detract us from our mission, not even your pride. Please, if you have a need, let Jesus wash your feet. The church is a 4000hp powerful speed boat. We don’t exist as a lawn ornament. Let church be family; it is what we are made for.
Let me give you a coronavirus devotional prescription for us all: take a hymnal and thumb through the pages. Read the words and ideals of our song writers. Nobody writes a song about mediocrity or weak aspirations. Our songs reflect our best hopes for ourselves and our future. Read through some of our songs of the faith. Pray! And resolve to live up to our high calling. Sing the songs and live them, especially now, when a frail and frightened world needs the Lord Jesus reflected in us.