How does God want Christians to respond to the Coronavirus?
The world is panicking. The last three days have been nothing short of fascinating to watch on social media and any other type of media. Entire countries have closed down. Yesterday some of the most well know collegiate institutions in America cancelled the rest of their spring semesters. And even now, my phone vibrates with announcements of every sporting event in the next month closing or postponing.until a later date.
Yesterday I sat with a group of pastors in my area and someone asked this aforementioned question. How does God want believers to respond?
The good news for a believer is that things don’t change because our external circumstances are good or difficult, peaceful or harsh. We are called to be the people we are called to be regardless of whether we are playing the game Pandemic or are in a real life pandemic.
So here are some responses for you in the midst of this world wild wide crisis we find ourselves in:
- I need to take care of others.
Even if you don’t take the Bible literally, you can’t go very far in Scripture to understand this as a calling of the believer. Panics like this motivate people to look out for themselves, and yes, even the believer tends to move back into the calm protection of a “survival of the fittest” mentality. Unfortunately, this type of thinking does little for progressing through a difficult situation. Instead, we are to ‘esteem others better than ourselves’ and ‘bear one another’s burdens.’ This is a great opportunity to take care of others who come across our paths and need our help.
Of course, taking care of others might also mean stepping away and allowing them space to heal and focus on their own personal health. While I need to take care of others, I don’t need to do so in a pushy or demanding way. Taking care of others is not simply to make ourselves feel better, but to literally put others ahead of our own well being.
- I need to encourage others and build them up.
At least one friend of mine speculates that the internet may come crashing down for portions of time during this period. I don’t tell you that to scare you, but I mean during this time, people will need significant amounts of encouragement. We have a hard enough time encouraging people and building them up using the internet. But now we might need to actually do that while talking to them…in the midst of a pandemic. Make a point to start having conversations with people, and discipline yourself to stay away from complaining about the weather, but telling them how important they are to you. Tell them how God has used them in your life. Tell them all the good qualities God has created them to have based on your relationship with them. James says,” Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” What an awesome opportunity of joy we have during this time!
- God is my protection.
I remember watching “the Walking Dead” years ago and asking the question, “if something like this actually happened, where would God be in all that?” Sure enough, the show actually touched on that topic over the years. One of the scary choices we have as believers during a time like this is how much do we protect ourselves and our families. I understand your desire to do that. I have the same desire. In fact, that is so important. Men and women have asked those questions in the middle of war, famine, and horrible circumstances since the beginning. Peter says something in his first letter that really strikes a chord here: “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” As a believer, we must constantly be reminded that we are not God, but he is on our side. He is our protection. In the last seven months, I have ensured that my church reads a Psalm every service, and that has been so incredible as the Psalms are ripe with a keen understanding that God is our ultimate protector and defender. Sure we can and should take care of others, but to be a believer is to believe he is stronger than this and any difficult circumstance you will encounter.
- I will give all praise to God.
In the midst of adversity, focusing on fixing our problems can be justified. But whatever you do, in this season of taking care of others, building them up, and remembering our creator, don’t stop giving praise to him. Thank him for everything. Recently a popular rock station (that at times, I very much enjoyed) was bought out by K-love, a contemporary Christian syndicated radio station. So I’ve been listening. Because of this new habit, my mind has been focused on praising God, and even in the midst of all of this panic, I can still say, “I trust you.”
I started the Holman Report for the Christian in the wilderness, who loves Jesus, but is tired of playing church. What an opportunity we have to live out our faith right now. I’m not at all happy about this pandemic, but I am thrilled about the opportunity to respond like Christ in the midst of adversity. Difficult ground can produce good fruit, if cultivated into good ground first. That is hard work.