A Christian's Response to Coronavirus
There seems to be a phenomenon currently sweeping across our nation. Closed businesses, lost jobs, financial strain, health concerns, and seemingly unprecedented restrictions have created a sort-of "corona-crazy" that has left many feeling tired, discouraged, and frustrated.
Tensions continue to rise as politically-charged debates take place amongst both Christians and non-Christians alike. When should the country reopen? When will life return to some sense of normalcy? Is the government operating outside of their legal and constitutional jurisdiction? How do we best care for the at-risk demographics?
These questions, among countless others, have risen from the periphery as everyone tries to make sense of what is happening in the world. As Christians, it is all-too-easy to "forget our training" when put in positions that challenge us in ways that may be uncomfortable. However, let's be unmistakably clear, God cares about how you respond in the midst of this crisis. While there is no book, chapter, or verse in the Bible that says, "Respond this way to the coronavirus," there are many biblical principles that should shape our thoughts, words, and actions. Let's consider several together.
1. Give thanks in all circumstances.
Here's a command we love to throw at our children to silence their complaining. However, Paul's instruction as he writes to the Thessalonians extends far beyond Christian catch phrases or Thanksgiving prayers. He writes, "give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Did you catch that? Paul says "give thank in all circumstances." The attitude and response of a follower of Christ (yes, even during the current pandemic) is to "give thanks," to be filled with a supernatural gratitude that comes from knowing and being known by Christ. For icing on the cake, Paul says to have this attitude and response is to enter into the will of God. How are Christians to respond to the current events? Give thanks.
2. Do everything without complaint.
If there was ever a person who had license to complain, it was the Apostle Paul. His liberties and freedoms were forcefully taken by the powers at be on more than one occasion. In fact, several of the New Testament letters that he penned were composed during his time in prison. Talk about isolation and social distancing! But what was Paul's response? In the midst of one of his wrongful imprisonments, he writes these words to the Philippians, "do all things without grumbling or disputing" (Philippians 2:14). What a stinging rebuke for many of us! I mean, does he really mean all things? In a time where it is easy and all-too-tempting to voice frustrations/annoyances on digital platforms, God's Word calls for a grateful heart and a resolve to not complain.
3. Watch your words.
I get it. All of your "social outlets" have been taken away. Processing everything that is going on cannot necessarily be done in the company of those you consider friends. As a result, many of us have turned to social media to voice our thoughts, opinions, and frustrations. While this is not necessarily a bad thing in itself, it certainly has the potential to lead us down a path in which God would not be pleased we are walking. Proverbs 10:19 says, "When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent." Let me say it another way. The more you talk, the more you sin. I cannot begin to tell you how true this has proven in my life personally. Scripture often speaks on how we should and should not use our words. In fact, it is one of the primary reoccurring themes throughout the book of Proverbs. The lesson is clear. Let your speech be used to build up, edify, and strengthen rather than tear down, divide, and put-down. What an important reminder, especially amidst the current circumstances.
4. Be patient.
This quarantine has gone much longer than many of us anticipated. What started as supportive submission in order to "love our neighbor" has, perhaps for many, grown stale. Reserves of "patience" have been depleted and have slowly been replaced with an insatiable desire for things to "go back to normal." A soul that lacks patience often becomes embittered and resentful in times of trouble. Paul, writing in the book of Romans, clearly states, "Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer" (Romans 12:12). In the midst of trying circumstances, the response of Christ-followers should be patience that is anchored in the unwavering hope that is provided in and through Jesus Christ. My friends, whether in this life or the next, this too shall pass. Resolve to be patient, rejoicing always for the hope that is in you.
5. Stay focused on the mission.
Global pandemics have a way of throwing a wrench into our routines. Unfortunately, what often accompanies an interrupted routine is a discombobulated mind that loses focus on the "marching orders" that all Christians have been given...to go and make disciples of Jesus Christ. Many of us have been in "survival mode" over the last several weeks, keeping our heads down to simply "make it through" everything that is going on. With the necessity of "online church," the ill-conceived divide between vocational ministers and regular church members has widened. The Bible is extraordinarily clear on this point. The command to go and make disciples is for all Christians for all time. Now, perhaps more than ever, is the time to sharpen our resolve to focus on the mission that Christ has given us. There truly is no greater purpose or higher calling.
This list could undoubtedly go on and on. However, the point remains. Your response amidst the coronavirus pandemic is not simply inconsequential. It is a matter in which all believers should take the time to pause and evaluate. May these five simple points stir and encourage you towards greater faithfulness to Christ, regardless of what is happening in the world around us.