It seems that the world has recently exploded, to a certain degree, with speculation, concern, fear over COVID-19. It has been for a while now, but this week it came home as there are currently five cases in New Mexico, the Governor has declared a state of emergency and the New Mexico Health Secretary has banned large gatherings (more than 100) throughout the state. (Not applicable to churches, all services will still be taking place at X Factor).
Across the country, the NBA has suspended its season, many companies have told all employees to work from home, large conventions/conferences have been canceled, schools have been closed, some towns have entire areas that are quarantined.
Around the world much of the same is happening, with almost entire countries being quarantined, travel bans being enacted, amusement parks closing, planes being grounded, trillions of dollars lost in the stock markets, celebrities contracting the virus, along with well over 100,000 other people while over 4,000 people have lost their lives.
The response is varied. Some are panicking with doomsday like scenarios. Many are preparing, by purchasing toilet paper, hand sanitizer, bottled water and masks, if they can find those items anywhere. Many are laughing at everyone who is panicking and prepping. Some are being cautious.
So, as Christians, how should we be responding? I’ve noticed that the trend seems to be to fall into either the end of the world scenario or to mockingly dismiss any concerns or calls to increase hygiene or limit exposure by stating that “God will protect us” or something like that. I think that in general, both of these responses are lacking. First of all, yes, God is in control. He is bigger than any disease or war or economy or anything else, and as I wrote several weeks ago, we cannot go through life with a cloud of terror hovering over us. We have to faithfully trust God in the times of fear in this world, and we can’t cower in terror over potential outcomes of something. However, while God is absolutely in control, He gave us minds, and abilities to use in this world. He gave the Israelites many many laws, which, in addition to being religious law, were also just good sanitation and hygiene guidelines. When Satan tried to tempt Jesus into throwing himself from the pinnacle of the temple He responded “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.” So yes, God is capable of keeping you safe and disease free even if completely surrounded by the disease, if that is His will and you are doing what He has called you to do, but that doesn’t mean you should be careless or berate others for being careful.
So how should we respond? We should be cautious. We should trust God’s providence. We should wash our hands and stay home if we are sick. We should not panic and flee from life out of fear. We should exude and offer compassion and hope. Whether we agree or not, there are people that are scared. We do serve a God that offers hope in the midst of fear. Hope that allows you to stand unafraid in this world. Hope that allows you to trust that there is something greater than this world. So embrace that hope, and give it to someone else. You and I are surrounded by people who need hope, whether they are facing relational problems, financial problems, health problems, etc… We have hope, and we need to give it away.