Note – I originally wrote this last Monday, but due to technical problems, was unable to post until today. While as of now deaths linked to the Corona virus have climbed to 12 they are far outstripped by the increase in the death toll of the flu.
Unless you have been living under a rock for the past few weeks you have heard about the Corona virus (COVID-19) outbreak. And if you have watched the news at all you’ve been told how serious it is, and that you should be very, very worried about it. (But don’t panic!) To put it bluntly what is being preached through nearly every media outlet is a profoundly unchristian response to the Corona outbreak, we as believers must respond biblically.
I could point out that more people have been struck by lightning in the past month than have died from the Corona virus. Or I could point out that the Corona virus has killed 2 people in the US, both patients at the same Washington state nursing home with serious underlying health problems, while the flu (yes the ordinary flu) has killed north of 14,000 people in the US this season, with the CDC estimating that 46,000 may lose their life before this flu season is over. Or I could point out that the lists of cataclysmic, earth transforming pandemics that have failed to materialize despite dire media predictions include SARS, the bird (avian) flu, swine flu, MERS, and the Zika virus. I could even point out that human Corona virus is among the things that Lysol lists on the back of their can as being killed on hard surfaces within 30 seconds of contact (and yes I am aware that the FTC didn’t evaluate that claim in light of undiscovered strains of the virus, but come on). But all of that falls into the category of human common sense, I want Christians to think biblically about the Corona virus.
The first thing we need to understand is how the world is going to end. Peter tells us in 2 Peter 3:1-7. The headline is 2 Peter 3:7:
But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. – 2 Peter 3:7
The world is not going to be destroyed by the Corona virus, it is going to be consumed by fire. And until then the Noahic covenant is in full effect:
While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease. – Genesis 8:22
The Corona virus will not be the end of the world, neither will it be so calamitous that the rhythms of life that have been the norm for millennia will be disrupted.
But some might say, sure the Corona virus won’t be the end of the world, but it will kill untold hordes. I really doubt that, but even if it does, it is all in the sovereignty of God. Scripture is quite clear that nothing, even deadly viruses outrun the sovereignty of God.
See now that I, even I, am He, and there is no God beside Me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of My hand. – Deuteronomy 32:39
So it is very clear what the truth of the matter is, but how should we apply it? By not worrying; in fact, scripture says expressly that we don’t have to worry because not only can we know that God is in firm control of the situation we can turn to Him as our loving heavenly Father.
For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. – 1 Timothy 1:7
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” – Romans 8:15
Furthermore Jesus said that worrying is unproductive:
Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. – Matthew 6:25-33
Paul writing to the Philippians even says active anxiety and indulging anxiety is a sin (any time you do what Scripture says not to do, it is a sin).
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. – Philippians 4:6
So putting it all together: God is in control, the world will not end, worrying is unproductive, and worrying is sinful. So how should a believer respond to the Corona virus? By trusting God (and His Word) and not worrying.
I know for some that is easier said than done. One of the most helpful things that was ever said to me was said by a biblical counseling professor, who is now on the pastoral staff of First Baptist Church, Jacksonville Florida, Dr. Ernie Baker (you should check him out. This is a great place to start). He said “you need to make your theology work for you.” It is a very simple bit of advice that helped me through some very tough and complex trials. It can help you too.
How should you respond to the
Corona virus? Christian make your theology work for you.