The Coronavirus Pandemic: How Should We Respond?
March 18, 2020
Many people woke up this week to a world they never imagined.
It happened because of the coronavirus outbreak. Along the way we learned a new word: pandemic. We know the word epidemic, which refers to widespread disease, but what is a pandemic? It means a disease has spread to many parts of the world.
We’ll all spend time in quarantine
What started in China spread quickly to South Korea and Japan. Travelers took it to Iran, Italy, Spain, Ukraine, the United States, Canada, and soon it spread across the globe. As I write these words, Italy and Spain are in lockdown, and almost every country in the world has issued travel restrictions to keep out anyone infected with the coronavirus.
We live in strange times.
We live in strange times.
Schools are closed, restaurants are closing, sporting events have been canceled, large assemblies are forbidden, and we’ve all learned about “social distancing,” which means you stay away from me, and I’ll stay away from you. Some counties are under a “shelter in place” order, which means you stay home round the clock, with only a few specified exceptions.
We’ve learned a new word: Pandemic
All because of a tiny microbe that is incredibly contagious and extremely dangerous, especially to those over 60 and those with compromised immune systems. Since I fit into that first category (I’m closer to 70 than to 60), I’ve tried to follow the rules. I’ve started washing my hands all the time. Marlene and I take hand sanitizer with us when we go out, which isn’t very often.
Such is life for all of us right now.
No one knows when things will get better. This may last a few weeks, or it may last a few months. It could last even longer.
No one knows when things will get better.
We are living with a level of anxiety we haven’t seen since 9/11. People worry about their health and the health of their loved ones. We’re worried about losing our jobs and our income. We feel trapped by events we can’t control.
No wonder people are hoarding toilet paper.
No wonder we can’t sleep.
No wonder we feel shaky.
How should Christians respond? Here are three brief answers:
1. Be Calm
Christians ought to be the calmest people on earth because we know the Lord, and he holds the future in his hands. There is no panic in heaven over this pandemic. If you spend all your time perusing the latest news, you will doubtless lose your perspective. Focus on the Lord, remember his promises, and all will be well.
Keep your eyes on Jesus!
2. Be Prepared
Since no one can say what tomorrow will bring, we would do well to stock up on the essentials we will need. All of us will likely be quarantined to one degree or another. At the very least, we’ll all spend more time at home than usual. So be prepared. Stock up on your prescription drugs. Buy some cleaning supplies. Make sure you have enough food to get through a week or two.
3. Be Ready to Share
Keep your eyes open for those in need. This includes senior citizens, the sick, and those who are otherwise overlooked by society.
Pray for “Missionary Eyes”
We will all find plenty of opportunities to minister in the days ahead. We need not give in to fear. Take wise precautions (wash your hands!), pray for “missionary eyes” to see those who need a word of encouragement, walk by faith, remember God’s promises, and let your light shine.
Hebrews 12:26 tells us that “once more” God will shake the world before the coming of Christ. That perspective helps us think wisely about the coronavirus pandemic. God is using a tiny microbe to bring the world to a standstill. When people ask, “Does God still speak today?” I tell them not to worry about it because he’s got your number on speed dial, and when he calls, you won’t put him on call waiting. He can ring us up any time of the day or night.
God’s got your number on speed dial
Why would God speak to us this way? Hebrews 12:27 says God is shaking everything that can be shaken (all the things built by man) so that only unshakable things can remain. Eugene Peterson gave us this paraphrase:
The phrase “one last shaking” means a thorough housecleaning, getting rid of all the historical and religious junk so that the unshakable essentials stand clear and uncluttered.
Unshakable essentials. That says it all. God is shaking the earth so that we will figure out what matters most. Here’s the good news. Out of these shaky days will come a vast spiritual harvest. People are asking questions because they want to know who they can trust. What a wonderful door for ministry is being opened for us.
We were made for times like these
Don’t despair and don’t give in to fear. We were made for times like these.
Sovereign Lord, you are the firm foundation beneath our feet. We trust in you, and we will not be moved. When the kingdoms of the earth crumble to dust, your words will still be true. Amen.