The recent and rampant spread of the coronavirus or COVID-19 has seemed to stop the world in its tracks. Day by day, headline by headline, news report after news report, we hear about new cases. Bread, milk, and toilet paper are flying off the shelves. Celebrities like Tom Hanks have been diagnosed, gatherings as small as a few hundred people are prohibited in some cities. As Christians, we must ask ourselves, how can we react to this challenging one a way that lines up with our faith?
Did God give us forewarning of a time like this? Is there something that we should have seen through the writers of the Old and New testament that would have better prepared us for what may come our way? What if I told you yes, but not in the way you may think or have been told?
I hate to break it to the late night Christian TV shows, but the coronavirus itself is not in the bible. There is, however, an unmistakable foreshadowing in scripture that can help us as Christian men, women, and children right now. It comes in the form of examples on how to handle a crisis.
A Crisis is defined as the following:
Today, we face all of the above. While you may feel like this is a unique predicament, it is not. In nearly every generation, God’s people have faced crisis and how they have reacted to circumstances has been critical. Remember, sometimes there are things out of your control but you can take 100% ownership over your reactions.
Here are 5 Biblical reactions we should be having during the coronavirus crises.
1. We Need to Pray… Deeply
You may say. “I already pray everyday.” Maybe you know you could do better in this area. Either way, it would be a good exercise for everyone to examine the purpose of prayer right now.
There is no better example than Jesus. Jesus prayed deeply in the face of adversity. He and His disciples would face significant crisis in the days ahead. We see Him dedicating Himself to deep prayer. This dedication was not wavered by those around Him. Think about it, the challenges Jesus faced had similarities in that some around Him panicked when He tried to prepare them for challenges. Others were quite lax. Remember, the disciples fell asleep when they should have been seeking God. In similar fashion you probably have these 2 extremes around you right now. Half of your Facebook timeline is declaring the end of the world while the other 50% are making jokes and heckling everyone else.
While some panic and others play, you pray. As Billy Graham so wisely stated “Prayer is the Christian’s greatest weapon”
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
2. Don’t Panic. Use Wisdom.
I learned an important lesson as a parent. Like every mom and dad, I wanted my kids to be safe in the street. The problem was I would react abruptly and say “Look out for the car”, even when one was all the way down the block. What I noticed was, this caused my kids to panic when they saw a vehicle. My son Joel would dart to the right or to the left. His focus was so much on the vehicle that he didn’t pay attention to anything else which may have been just as dangerous. This caused us to adopt the motto “Don’t be scared, just be careful.” In other words, use wisdom and stay level headed.
It is nearly impossible to be in a state of fear but still stay level-headed and make the right decisions. With the coronavirus on every platform and many around us acting like its the end of all things (it’s not), Christians can be a source of stability, strength, and all that can be attributed to our faith.
There is a difference between healthy concern and hysteria. We need to be the voice of reasonable concern and confidence When the Israelites were faced with the uncertainty ahead upon fleeing Egypt, Moses stood up as one who was confident that God would deliver them through.
Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today.
When crisis hits, whether the enemy is a pandemic or an army, we have to be like Moses. Seek God on direction and challenge yourself to be the still voice amongst the panic.
3. Guard Your Heart and Mind
And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
In the coming weeks, there will no doubt be a continuous stream of fearful rhetoric, some of which may even come from the church. Make the decision right now to allow the peace of God and the Holy Spirit inside you to be the source of your mental well being. If you allow for the negative to take root, it won’t be long until you feel fear. Being afraid will then drive your words and your actions.
It will be nearly impossible to “quarantine yourself” from the 24 hour coverage, but what you can do is make a conscious effort to try and increase the truth that you consume. By that, I mean stay close to God’s Word. In fact, just like during flu season you supplement with more Vitamin C to ward off sickness, do this with God’s Word.
Faith is like your immune system. The bible calls it a shield! (Eph 6:16-18)When it is strong, you are defended by external threats. Get in God’s Word daily and build your faith! Your Faith will help you to withstand the enemy of fear.
So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
4. Rely on God’s Promises For Your Life
There is one thing that God has never promised and that is a life without trials and tribulations. In the words of Jesus to His disciples, who would face crisis at many turns, He encouraged:
“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
Therefore, don’t let your heart be troubled. We have even better promises over our lives.
First, Jesus promises us abundant lives while on this earth. (John 10:10) Beyond this existence, which is something that we will all experience, we have eternal life. (John 3:16) We draw on both of these promises. They give us strength. Our hope is in the assurance that no matter what happens, our victory is one that is embedded in the Glory of God, which is forever.
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.
1 Peter 5:10
5. Look for the Opportunity
Some of the greatest opportunities in life come out of the most intense adversity. Most of you reading this now know the concept is exactly true. Look at how far God has taken you. So, the crisis of the coronavirus, although concerning, most certainly presents great opportunity. This holds true for your life and those around you.
First, let’s look at you. This is an opportunity to grow and mature. If you hold true to all the virtues listed in this article, you will advance your life. God’s Word guarantees it.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Trust in God and there is nothing you will lack. COVID-19 can’t keep you from your destiny and staying strong today is going to play a role in securing a life legacy that is a testament to the God’s love.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow–not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.
The opportunity not only stops at you. This is an amazing time to share the Gospel. Crisis makes people think about things bigger than themselves. It may be in this time of uncertainty that those around you begin to seek God.
In the early Acts church, persecution hit hard. God’s people found themselves being scattered. Despite severe hardship, they kept on preaching the Gospel. This endurance led to great revival. Sometimes it takes a crisis to drive us to Christ.
Meanwhile those scattered by the persecution that began with Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, speaking the message only to Jews. But some of them, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began speaking to the Greeks as well, proclaiming the good news about the Lord Jesus.The hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.
This is a time for Christians to stand up and stay strong. I want to leave you with one more scripture. Understand, God has always delivered His people. Coronavirus will come and go. There will be another challenge that comes next. But God will never let us down. In the words of King David, as he faced crisis after crisis, he wrote this in a psalm to remind all of us that God never leaves His children. He did it for the generations of the Bible. The Father will do it for us. There is no circumstance too big for God.
“Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them.”
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