There is so much uncertainty and confusion surrounding the outbreak of COVID-19 that has swept across the entire globe. It seems like everyday we wake up and are continually astonished at the increasing number of cases and deaths that are related to this outbreak. We turn on the news, or read articles, but there are so many conflicting reports and statistics. We look to our government and local leaders to help provide answers and guidance, but again, there is so much confusion amongst much of the data we are given. We turn to social media and read heartfelt stories and pleas from those who work in the medical field, from those who have been affected or have had loved one’s affected, and we can’t forget about all those just living their best life and posting memes about the times right now. It seems like this virus is continuing to spread despite best efforts, and we are told (as of the time of writing this post) that it is expected to get worse, much worse. So, the question still remains: what are we supposed to do? How are we supposed to handle all this, and respond to the events during this time?
This is not the first time that the world is experiencing trouble, and unfortunately, it’s not going to be the last. People say the only constants in this world are change, death, and taxes! Well, I want to add a new constant: the fact that there will always be trouble that pops its head up in the most unexpected times. Now, please keep in mind that as I unfold the answers to the questions above, I will be answering them from the lens of a Christian. As such, I want to use God’s Word to help answer these questions. Now, the Bible contains many wonderful truths within it’s pages that are applicable and relevant to the lives of those who spend time reading it. If you haven’t already guessed, the Bible gives numerous accounts of trouble plaguing God’s people, or the world, and helps to provide insight into a healthy way of confronting the differing issues, as well as the appropriate internal response one should take in the face of trials.
In order for you to fully grasp the remainder of this post, there is one essential truth that you must understand before continuing. GOD LOVES YOU. Think about that statement for a minute…don’t just skim through it ready to get to the point…really take a minute and contemplate what that means. Start working through everything you know about love: it’s caring for someone, having concern for someone, having a desire to be there and support someone, to provide for them, to encourage them, to lift them up when they’re down; it’s putting their needs above your own. It means having a devotion toward that person, not turning your back on them and abandoning them, but going above and beyond for them. It’s more than just a feeling, it’s a choice. The fact is, God did not have to create anything. He was in existence before the world, before time, before you and I were ever even a thought on the horizon…but He chose to create us. He chose to love us. God’s first expression of that love for us, was a gift…this brand new world that He created, a world of wonder, and beauty; a world that God described as “good”. The last few verses in the first chapter of Genesis tell us that God gave the world to Adam and Eve, and to the offspring that they would have. What a gift! It doesn’t stop there though, God gave us an even better gift…you see, God, in His perfect omniscience (all knowingness) knew that man would rebel against Him and chose to disobey Him, so He had a plan for that too.
Many of us are familiar with John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” It wasn’t enough that God gave us this wonderful world that He created, He also went so far as to give us His ONLY son. Not just to be a good teacher, or a good role-model; not just to love on us and do wonderful signs and miracles for us…but to DIE for us. To die because of the SINS that we commit against God. Scripture also tells us this in John 15:13, “ Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” You might think you know what love is, but we are only able to scratch the surface of truly being able to fully understand what love is. God is love, and like I’ve already mentioned, in order to understand the rest of this post, you must first understand this undeniable fact: God Loves You. For those who do understand this and accept that in spite of our sins and shortcomings God loves us, and that He gave His son Jesus Christ as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins, our response should be to ask for forgiveness, allowing Him to come into our hearts, and to love Him back.
When this happens and we allow God to have our heart – our life, we are no longer enemies of His, but we become His children. Anyone that’s ever had children, knows that there is something that happens in our hearts and our minds that completely changes our outlook on life. I always say that I used to think I understood what love was, especially after meeting my wonderful wife. However, the moment I first held my baby boy in my arms, everything I thought I knew about love changed; I didn’t know that the human heart was capable of experiencing the level of love that I had in that first moment (and it continues to grow with each day) with my son. And that level of love that I have for my son, still fails miserably in comparison to the love that God has for each and every one of us.
So why is it so important that we understand this concept before moving one? Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” So, let me answer that in the form of another question…well, questions. Would you rather go through a difficult circumstance with someone leading you that loves you, or hates you? Would you rather be disciplined by someone who loves you, or who hates you? Would you rather depend on someone for help who loves you, or hates you? Now grant it, I’m quite confident I know your answers to those questions. For you see, when we understand that we are going through this situation with someone who loves us, with someone who wants to protect us and provide for us, with someone who cares for us and wants what’s best for us, it changes our perspective on everything.
There are so many differing opinions circulating right now about why this is happening: God is punishing the world for turning it’s back on Him… God is using this to purge things… God is trying to get our attention and wake us up before it’s too late… This is the beginning of the end times and the world is close to extinction. You see, we could sit here and speculate for hours why this is happening, but when it’s all said and done, it would be just that: Speculation. The fact is, we don’t know why, and we may never know why. The why, though, is not really that important, because what God wants from us – what God expects from us, is still the same. We don’t have to understand why God is allowing all this to happen to understand how we are supposed to respond in this situation. So, back to the main questions of this post: what are we supposed to do? How are we supposed to handle all this, and respond to the events during this time?
Sometimes it helps us figure out what to do, if we understand what not to do. The first thing that we should not be doing, is allowing fear to take root in our minds. 2 Timothy 1:7 tells us, “For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.” You see, Timothy had a very overwhelming task in front of Him in regards to leading his church, especially having to follow the spiritual giant we know as Paul. So Paul was writing to encourage Timothy, that he did not have to be afraid to do what God had called him to do, and that in fact, he wasn’t alone in the process. You see, the very Spirit of God becomes a part of us when we become a Christian, and God uses His Spirit to help guide us, to give us wisdom, to protect us, and to give us power to do what God has called us to do. We, much like Timothy, have an overwhelming task in front of us over these next few months. So, are we going to allow fear of the unknown take root in our lives and keep us from doing what God wants us to do? Or are we going to stand firm, resting in the fact that God will provide a way for us to get through any obstacle that stands in front of us? I don’t know about you, but I choose the latter.
Likewise, closely related to fear is anxiety; anxiety can be a major obstacle to anyone going through a tough time. It’s not knowing what is coming ahead, what lies around the corner that can cause our minds to spiral out of control…if we let it. So, the second thing that we must do, is to not be anxious, but rather, fall on our knees before God Almighty. This is illustrated in Philippians 4:6, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Easy, right? I think God knew that this would be something that we would all struggle with, which is why He put so many examples about this in His Word for us. When Moses was confronting Pharaoh, and having to deal with leading an entire nation, he turned to God. When David was fleeing for his life from King Saul, he turned to God. When Jesus was about to face the crucifixion, He spent an entire night with God…praying so hard he started sweating blood. When the disciples were without their leader, and trying to figure out how to spread Jesus’ message to the world, they turned to God in prayer (which is what birthed the Church). These are only a few examples of people turning to God during there darkest times. The pages of Scripture are filled with so many examples of people facing insurmountable odds and crying out to God for help…and you know what? Every single time, God never let them down. He always showed up! I’m going to let you in on a little secret…we are pretty powerless to stop the spread of the corona virus, but we know someone who can. So why not turn to Him and ask Him to intervene in this situation. Maybe God will stop it right away, maybe He won’t, but if we pray to Him and ask that His will be accomplished, the resounding answer to that prayer will be, “Yes!” Whether it stops tomorrow, or lasts another 3 months, if we ask God for help, for patience, for strength, for wisdom, the resounding answer to that prayer will be, “Yes!”
It can be easy to become overwhelmed by this situation, if we lose perspective. Matthew 6:25-34 read, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendorwas dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” There will always be worries. There will always be problems. There will always be needs. God knows all this. Remember that God loves us and that He cares for us. If He is allowing us to go through this situation, He will not leave us to go through it alone. He knows what we need, and He wants to provide for us. Do not let your anxiety get the best of you, rather, lift EVERYTHING up to the one who is in complete control.
Finally, the third thing that we should not do in this situation is turn our backs on others, and develop a “me first” attitude. The Christian life is a life of service; service to God, and service to others. God calls us to be a light in the darkness, the salt of the earth. He uses us in His plan to help spread the love and message of Jesus Christ. We are called to be the hands and feet of the body of Christ. Looking back at John 15, verse 12, the verse right before the one already mentioned, “This is My command: Love one another as I have loved you.” Jesus tells us that the two greatest commandments are to 1. Love God, and 2. Love our neighbors. The Christian life is not a life of selfishness and isolation. During this time, now more than ever, there are so many people with needs, so many people hurting (physically, mentally, and emotionally). What are we doing to help those people right now? We shouldn’t be stocking up on toilet paper and canned goods, ready to with this thing out from the shelter of our “fortress”. We need to be actively searching for ways to be meeting the needs of those that are around us. Now, this doesn’t mean that we should break all the “social distancing” guidelines that are in place, but we should look for ways to spread hope and love during this time. Maybe it’s calling your family, friends, and neighbors just to check on them and let them know that you’re thinking about them and praying for them. Maybe it’s asking the elderly couple on your street if they need any groceries and going to pick those up for them. Maybe it’s taking advantage of all the extra time we have with family. The way that we help during this time will be different for each one of us, but I guarantee that God will show you a way you can share His love with others during this time.
So, to recap, do not be bogged down by fear – recognize that God Almighty is in control and will ultimately use this situation for His Glory. Do not let your anxiety get the best of you , thinking that you have to handle this by yourself – turn to God and lift everything up to Him in prayer, having faith that He will be faithful to His Word and use this situation ultimately for your good. Finally, do not isolate yourself away from the world – ask God to show you how you can help those in need whom He has put around you.