Three things to think about as Christians;
1. We should be marked by Peace not Panic.
As Christians we should be characterised by peace even in the face of potentially anxious circumstances.
‘You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.’ Isaiah 26 v 3.
Jesus said: ’I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’ John 16 v 33
Notice, it’s not the absence of trouble or the presence of favourable circumstances that leads to peace, rather it is the presence of God and the victory of Christ that is the source of our peace.
Where does our peace come from? It comes from looking to God and trusting in His character and His promises. Psalm 139 (v16) says ‘all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.’ We do not need to panic, God is sovereign, God is good, and God is Lord over nature and nations, over kings and kingdoms, over every disaster and every disease, and He has promised that in all things He is working for the good of those who love him and have been called according to His purpose (Romans 8 v 28).
We can trust God.
Jesus tells us not to worry, because worry will not add a single hour to our lifespan. Remind yourself continually: ‘It takes the same amount of energy to worry as to pray. One leads to peace, the other to panic. Choose wisely.’ Todd Wagner
2. We should be marked by Wisdom not Foolishness.
Yes, we trust God, yes, we do not give into fear, yes, we fix our minds on God and have peace, but that does not mean we throw common sense out of the window and act foolishly.
We are to serve people well by following the appropriate, sensible, and wise guidelines that the medical professionals and government officials provide; not least wash your hands properly and regularly, and self-isolate if you have a cough or temperature.
We are not to act recklessly by ignoring good practice as if Christians are somehow immune from such illnesses. Equally we don’t go to the other extreme and stockpile food and hide away in bunkers to avoid getting infected, both are foolish, and both approaches lack wisdom and fail to pay attention to the reality of living for Christ in a fallen and fragile world, where we are called to both suffer with humanity, and serve humanity, alongside one another for the glory of God.
Be practical about hygiene, and love others well by playing your part in keeping them safe.
But also be prayerful about protection and love others well by praying; for Gods provision in their need, peace in their anxiety, and strength in their weakness.
3. We should be marked by Hope not Despair.
Our reason for hope, as Christians, is not because this virus is not serious, or because this virus is not going to continue to cause disruption and difficulty, and even death for some, but our hope stems from the gospel, a gospel which causes us to reflect on the reality of an even more widespread and lethal virus with an even more deadly impact, but one for which God has already provided an eternal and enduring remedy.
Mark Oden writing for the Gospel Coalition summarises it like this: ‘Humanity lives in the grip of a pandemic outbreak called sin… and the story of the Bible is the story of a God who entered a world infected with this virus. He lived among sick people, not wearing a chemical protective suit but breathing the same air as we do, eating the same food as we do. He died in isolation, excluded from his people, seemingly far from his Father on a cross—all so he might provide this sick world with an antidote to the virus, that he might heal us and give us eternal life.’
His name is Jesus, and He said: “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11 v 25-26.
Our faith in Jesus provides us with a sure and certain hope, not just in the face of the coronavirus, but in the face of sin, satan, death and hell, and it is our privilege to share and shine that hope into our world in the midst of darkness and despair, whenever and wherever God gives us opportunity (1 Peter 3 v 15).
Because of Jesus we can approach the throne of grace, the throne of God, with confidence, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16). What a privilege! what a joy! So let us lay hold of that privilege on behalf of our world and come before the throne of God, confident, that He has all that we and our world needs, both now, and always.