The Christian's Guide to Coronavirus

by Jonathan Whitaker
in Blog

Emblazoned on the cover of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy are the words, “Don’t Panic.” Today, the iconic words from author Douglas Adams seem more relevant than ever.  We live in an age that is familiar with the ever-present threat of terrorism and extremism, but for most of us, the closest we will ever get to those horrors is an article on a news website.  In the modern era, we aren’t acquainted with the type of global fear that the Coronavirus has caused.  Compared to the 20th century, the 21st century has been benign. 

Rewind the tape 100 years and the Spanish Flu followed the bloodiest war in human history (to that point).  The Spanish Flu claimed between 50-100 million lives following World War I, which had claimed 13 million lives.  Those numbers are incomprehensible from our modern perspective.  So what is the difference?  Why, when faced with a potential pandemic, do we feel personally vulnerable?  May I suggest our unprecedented access to information, no matter how reliable the source, has brought once seemingly distant troubles right to our doorstep.  The reality is that the Coronavirus, like pandemics before it, can infect you whether you are informed or not.  What the Coronavirus cannot do, however, is determine whether you are going to panic or make a plan. 

I believe all Christ followers have a responsibility during this crisis.  Like the best of our forebears who ministered to the sick during the bubonic plague (among other plagues), we too can serve our communities and lift up the name of Jesus to the least in His kingdom.  I’m not going to offer specific ministries, but a few guiding principles you should consider as you trust God to guide you during this time. 

  1. “Don’t Panic.” Honestly, what good does panic do you?  Consider your calling as a born again follower of Jesus.  I remind you, “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7).  Why did he do that?  First, because we serve the God of creation.  Nothing happens within His creation that is beyond God’s control.  That is the master you serve.  Don’t misunderstand -- I am not blaming God (as some have) for Coronavirus. However, I am confident that He can use even this time of trouble for His glory. (1 Peter 4:12-19, Romans 8:28).
  2. Be wise. Proverbs 13:20 tells us, “He who walks with the wise will become wise, but he who walks with fools suffers harm.” Who are you taking your medical advice from, your doctor, or your crazy uncle on Facebook? Take the necessary precautions recommended by your health care provider and the health care officials of the government.  Of course you should pray for God’s protection, but it does not show a lack of faith to follow sound medical advice to prevent the spread of the virus.  The prophet Daniel (Dan 2:21) tells us that it is God who appoints and removes our leaders for his purposes and the Apostle Peter tells us that we are to be subject to our leaders in government.  Practically speaking, our government has issued sound advice on this virus, so take your medicine, people.  Just look at the Apostle Paul and his disciple Timothy.  Timothy had a stomach issue, so did Paul prescribe prayer? No, he told him to take wine with his food, because the water was suspect.  That’s just good advice.
  3. Be missional. If you have been on the lookout for an opportunity to be on mission for Jesus, my friend, your ship has come in.  I have heard from multiple people at work and through many media outlets that Coronavirus is God’s judgement.  It is strange how religiously minded non-religious people can get.  Lately everyone is a prophet of the apocalypse.  Too bad they don’t know what apocalypse means (it means revelation).  It’s true, when God eventually reveals himself through the return of Jesus Christ, the world will be judged.  My friend, let’s not suppose that day is today.  May I suggest to you that the trials that precede Christ’s revealing are not judgement at all, but opportunities for individuals to actually know the God of the universe?  Isn’t it more likely that “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”? (John 3:17) Now is our opportunity to tell a world that is facing up to their mortality that Jesus is a God who saves.

So what do I suggest you do?  Well for starters, stop hoarding toilet paper.  If it’s too late and your bunker is already stacked to the brim with TP, maybe knock on your neighbor’s door and see if they could use some.  Once you have met that most delicate of needs in your community, be bold; tell them that TP is from Jesus and tell they He can give them much more than two-ply.  Pray for your neighbors, your co-workers, your Gospel Community members.  Be a warrior of prayer, be a warrior of worship (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).  Rejoice in the God who has a plan for your life and trust that He can see it to completion (Philippians 1:6).   Above all, don’t panic! We are not a people of fear. We are a people who, when crisis comes, bless our neighbors, not hide from them.  Be a person who brings peace to a broken and fearful world.