Daily, it seems, we are inundated with messages from every imaginable type of business, from banks to insurance companies to tour guides to vitamin distributors to automobile dealerships– all expressing their response to the current crisis creating havoc across our land. Throughout the world, churches and other Christian ministries have curtailed their public activities out of a concern to cooperate with efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19 and to mitigate its potential impact upon us all.
Looking through the lens of a biblical worldview, how should Christians view this present crisis? It is easy to be driven by a fear that belies our professed faith in the Lord. Or, on the other extreme, it is possible to ignore the present realties and act as if Christians are impervious to the potential impact of the coronavirus threat. Neither response reflects a truly biblical perspective. So what should we do and think? The essence of a Christian response will include the following dimensions.
First, rest in the sovereignty of God. The God who spoke the universe into existence continues to providentially direct the course of history. The inception of this pandemic is no more of a disruption of God’s plan than were the Ten Plagues that rained down upon the Egyptians as a means of freeing Israel from slavery. The Lord gave Job a strong lesson in the realities of life, reminding him that God’s infinite power, dominion, and wisdom providentially direct all that happens, from arranging the constellations of the stars to the movement of mammoth sea creatures to when mountain goats give birth. Nothing happens in this universe apart from the sovereign will of God, including the spread of Covid-19. Humanly speaking, the actions of Chinese government officials may have initially facilitated the spread of the virus, but ultimately God was accomplishing His purposes.
Second, recognize the fragility of life in this world. Millions who a month ago may have been living a care-free life, without regard for the possibility of imminent sickness and death, are now overwhelmed with concern for themselves and their loved ones. Nothing like a pandemic to bring a solid dose of a reality which has been the message of Scripture for generations! Over 2500 years ago Isaiah declared, “All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, because the breath of the Lord blows upon it; surely people are grass” (40:6-7). In light of this tenuous hold on life, we should pray Moses’ words in Ps. 90, “So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
Third, realize that Covid-19 is not a sign that the end is near. There are enterprising, self-styled prophecy experts who seek to capitalize on every major upheaval in society as a sign that the “end times” have come upon us. Newspaper editors and internet news sites have long known the axiom that “If It Bleeds, It Leads.” I.e., sensational news stories about big trouble are a surefire way to attract readers. And so such stories invariably make the headlines. Given this reality, we must resist efforts to claim that this current pandemic is a sign of the end any more than were the 14th-century plague of Black Death, the 18th-century Yellow Fever outbreak, the 19th-century Cholera Pandemic, and the early 20th-century Spanish Flu. These periods of intense disease killed many millions. It is estimated that the Spanish Flu alone killed at least 50 million worldwide, a number that dwarfs even worse-case scenarios for Covid-19.
And fourth, redeem the opportunities this crisis affords. Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” The curse of sin is manifesting itself in unusual ways these days. But we who know Christ are charged with living carefully and wisely, taking advantage of the open doors for ministry that God provides. While we are not able to maintain “business as usual” public gatherings right now, God is still at work and using His people. Let us be praying for His guidance in these regards and for His purposes to be accomplished. He will be glorified through Covid-19 in ways we could not have anticipated. Let us, therefore, remember to pray what Jesus taught us: “Hallowed be Your name. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” And remember that God works through the hearts of kings and those with civil authority (Prov. 21:1), so let us be praying for them to be filled with wise guidance as we navigate these uncharted waters.