|First up, can we just appreciate everyone who uses YouVersion getting this|
as their verse of the day a few days ago? Not a few of us have been laughing!
It seems at this point, no matter where you turn, all conversations ultimately lead back to one thing: Coronavirus. It's all over facebook, comes up in our texts, is being constantly noted at workplaces, it's all over TV (one reason to be thankful not to have cable, LOL!), it comes up at our dinner tables. It's taking the world by storm; and I don't even mean physically. It has taken hold of the thoughts of every single person, whether infected with the virus or not. An epidemic has been started, and I don't just mean corona; it's an epidemic of fear, and illogical solutions (and a shortage of toilet paper).
I've seen people bring Lysol wipes to clean their own tables when dining out, but then eating food prepared by strangers. Opening doors with their shirt so as not to touch the door handle, but then wearing that shirt with anything it picked up for the rest of the day, rather than being able to wash it off immediately, as they could their hands. We have people calling for schools to be closed, but then using their free time to catch up -in person- with friends. Refusing to stand too close to another person, but disregarding the fact that this same person just touched the loaf of bread they are buying and taking back to the house to sit on the counter for a week as they slowly eat it.
Items are running low. The elderly, who can't get around as easily and are more susceptible to this virus, are having to go to store after store after store to find basic necessities, because we have items flying off the shelf in the event that it's not safe to go out and get them later. One of my friends has told me she can't get her baby's formula anywhere, and because of some potential hereditary allergens, she can't just give him whatever is available. Mama went shopping for the weekend for our family of 12, and got stares from people assuming she was "one of those people", when in reality, this stuff isn't going to last us a week.
Bethel church has closed it's "healing ministry" in the wake of this epidemic, as the spiritual healing movement always does when faced with any health issue or disability that you can prove wasn't healed. Ironically, they give their reasoning as the fact that they don't want to catch coronavirus. While those of us who truly know the gospel of God already know that their ministry is built on greed and false doctrine, it is mind boggling to me that they would tell us, in essence, "we don't trust our healing methods to heal ourslves from the coronavirus, so we are going to put our own lives before yours," (a definite opposition to the calling of a believer!) "and refuse to heal anyone who might be dying of something we could catch!" and still expect us to believe their teaching and claims. What is even more mind boggling, and completely breaks my heart, is that there are people who *will* continue to believe them.
I'm not talking about how bad this may be. It might be a cold, or the black plague. It doesn't really matter, because people are going to fear it no matter what at this point, no matter what we learn through greater study of it. And I'm not saying that we shouldn't be taking every precaution we can to avoid it's spreading; as a bit of a germaphobe myself with some germaphobic friends, I know two things: one, even germaphobes know that there are plenty of things you just can't do with perfect sanitation and you have to pick your battles, and two, there's also a lot of gross things to deal with in this world that other people just do not seem to notice, and if this helps them notice some of these things, it's cleaner world for all of us. Human hygiene is just common sense that we should all be using, every day, to stay clean and get good nutrients and be good stewards of the time, health, and wealth that God has granted us here. It's even natural to up our efforts when outbreaks are more likely; we all do it every winter, and it's definitely something to be encouraged.
But what should our view on the subject of corona, as Christians, be? Two things come to my mind (along with "did that person who claims to be paraniod about this virus really just do that and not think it was gross and life threatening" and "what is happening to us that my mom and best friend and I are tagging each other constantly in toilet paper memes").
God is completely sovereign, even in this situation. If you can trust Him to get your sinful heart restored to His righteousness and give you eternal life, you can trust that you are going to be taken care of. This doesn't mean that we, as a church that has been much talked about among my coworkers, just "name and claim health" are magically made immune. God doesn't work like that; when the bible says to trust in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart*, trusting in the Lord aligns our will with His, not ropes the God of the Universe into fulfilling our whims. It does mean, that no matter what happens, you can rest secure in the fact that God has ordained the outcome of your life. We as Christians can say with Paul, "to live is Christ, and to die is gain."* *If* we get this corona and, by some chance, it ends our life, guess what? That was predestined before the beginning of time by God. And we get to stand before His throne much earlier than we anticipated, and we will spend the rest of eternity rejoicing! And if it's not our time to die; nothing, absolutely nothing can change the events God has set into place before the world began, and this virus can't change that.
But there are a lot of people being affected by this pandemic who do not know the security of abiding in Christ, and that brings me to what I think is the most important thing that should be on our minds during this time. There is so much opportunity right now to spread the gospel to those around us. There is so much fear that needs to be calmed with eternal confidence. There is so much panic over "what ifs" that needs to be set at rest with truth. There is so much discouragement that could be turned to rejoicing just by knowing Christ and Him crucified.
People's minds are naturally turning to the purpose of their lives right now. They need strong, biblical answers to what meaning their life has in the midst of all the mess around us. Our purpose is to live for Christ and glorify Him forever - whether here or in heaven, it doesn't matter. That purpose gives us security and joy, either way. People are looking with fear to the future, and so they are looking with regret to the past. They don't need a soothing voice to tell them, "you've done the best you could, even if you never get to do more, you should be proud!" They need a gentle, firm voice to tell them, "You're right. You've done some things wrong, and your life is covered with sin. And you'll never be able erase that. And as a Perfect, Just, and Holy Being, God can't erase the need for sin's required payment. But He did do something merciful and beautiful and wonderful for you... He sent His only Son to pay that debt for you, thereby satisfying justice while giving you hope. Christ died a horrible, terrible, substitutionary death, worse than anything this corona could throw at us, for you, because He loves you. And God's got a purpose for all things that happen, good and bad. And maybe, now, His purpose for this spread of illness is so that you and I would be having this conversation right now, as the means God is going to use to open your heart to His glorious, precious gospel, so that the illness of your soul could, through this, be completely and forever healed, by recognition of your brokenness, repentance of your sin, and acceptance of the gift of eternal righteousness Christ bestows on you when you believe His efforts, and not yours, are the means of your worth."
If even one soul came to abide in the truth of the gospel through these events, it would all be worth it. And it would be in God's plan. And we have been given the responsibility - the privilege! - of being His designated ambassadors. We can't dare to neglect to share His gospel right now, when people are so actively seeking answers to the questions the gospel answers. These people are *going* to find answers, whether we speak up or not. But they aren't going to be answers of truth, unless they come from the Word of God Himself.
So wash your hands. Stay hydrated. Love and protect the people around you. Take care of them.
But don't neglect to come to Christ for cleansing from a heart set on evil. Keep your spiritual thirst satisfied by pursuing the Word of God. Love and protect the people around you with the truth. Take care of their souls.
Rejoicing in the hope of Salvation,
*Psalm 37:4 *Philippians 1:21
"Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand." -Proverbs 19:21
"I preceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before Him." Ecclesiastes 3:14
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes." Romans 1:16