What should be our response to the coronavirus as Christians?
How quickly the world can change! The coronavirus has suddenly taken over media and social media and is on many people’s minds. I’ve seen many, many posts from Christians—ranging from “Who cares?” and, “The flu kills more people daily!” to “God is in control, I don’t need to worry,” to, “PANIC!”
The fact is: We don’t know the future, and so it’s not surprising that we are hearing wildly different responses at this point, (and perhaps, in a month or two or three, we’ll hear a lot of “I told you so’s” from those who’s opinions were ”right”).
As Christians what should be our response be to the coronavirus? Rev. Kevin DeYoung shared a very helpful note on twitter last night that reminds us that we are Christians, and that we should have a Christian response to all of this. He wrote: “Things Christians should not do in a pandemic: 1. Tell everyone it’s too late! 2. Tell everyone it’s not a big deal! 3. Act like experts. 4. Make everything about politics. Things Christians can do: 1. Pray. 2. Trust God. 3. Show compassion. 4. Give thanks in all circumstances.”
This response is great! What follows now are my thoughts on three ways that we can respond:
Trust in God
Of course: We ARE to trust in God. Psalm 46 says, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea … the LORD of hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our refuge.” It’s for times like this, that this Psalm was written. So if you’re starting to feel anxious, read and meditate on Psalm 46. Remember God is in control of all history—and even knows and counts all the hairs on your head! (Matthew 10:30-31). What matters most, is that we belong to Him.
Are you a Christian? Have you confessed your sin to Him, and put your faith in His Son, Jesus Christ? Is God, your God and your refuge?
Take Care of Ourselves
However, trusting that God is sovereign doesn’t mean that we live carelessly, (“who cares!”). Most of us are not experts on the coronavirus or on pandemics, and it’s a fool, Proverbs says, who responds quickly without knowing what he is talking about (Proverbs 18:13). Remember also that we confess, as Reformed Christians, in our Heidelberg Catechism, (Lord’s Day 40:105, on the Sixth Commandment, “You shall not murder”), this: “that I hurt not myself, nor willfully expose myself to any danger.”
Practically our consistory raised the question this morning on Slack (the app we use to communicate), “Should we be pro-active as church in preventing the spread of the coronavirus? We have quite a few members who would be at high risk of becoming very ill.” And we’re talking about discouraging handshakes.
Believing in God’s sovereignty gives us a foundation, upon which we can be calm and not fear (“we will not fear,” Psalm 46). But it is not a license to act and speak callously in the midst of trouble. It’s also unkind to those who are struggling with fear, and when our words should be used to direct them to God’s strength, our thoughtless responses can end up doing the opposite. Who knows the opportunities that God is giving us in this to speak to others the gospel of Jesus Christ?
Is there someone you know who’s anxious over this that you could share the gospel with? And perhaps read Psalm 46 with, and pray with?
Pray For All
This is also a time for us to pray. A time to pray that God may be merciful, (it still could get a lot worse!). But also a time to pray for those who are already infected. That God may graciously save those who do not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. And for the many Christians, undoubtedly, who are also infected and/or quarantined in various countries around the world. Let us care for our brothers and sister in Christ around the world who are really suffering, in one way or another, and let’s pray for them.
Have you thought to pray for those who have been infected? And for fellow Christians too?
So trust in God, take care of ourselves, and pray for all. If it becomes worse than it is today, these three still apply. If it gets better from here on out? They still apply. And you will not regret that you spent your time praying and being kind to others.