Summary: This message provides three simple responses for the Christian to follow during the coronavirus pandemic. Pastor Tow recommends a balanced approach of prudence and faith. We are given ample instruction in Scripture for dealing with any crisis.
The coronavirus now dominates the news. It has now been classified as a pandemic. Extreme actions are being taken by governments to contain the spread of this disease. It is driving the stock market down. Unfortunately, it is part of the political dialogue. It is affecting commerce, travel, entertainment, and sports. You know that it is serious when Americans will close sports events. Friday, President Trump declared this crisis a national emergency.
The primary concern is not the current sickness and death count; it is the potential devastation this disease could cause. The influenza pandemic that struck in 1918 affected one-third of the world’s population. That would be 2 ½ billion people in today’s population. It is estimated to have killed 50 million people when the population was much less than it is today.i Some estimates are as high as 100 million.ii To put that in perspective, the total fatalities in World War II are estimated at 70-85 million.iii One source said, “This flu killed more people in 24 weeks than the HIV/Aids killed in 24 years.”iv These statistics explain why governmental responses to the current pandemic are so dramatic.
The Bible has a lot to say about plagues, and we can draw counsel from the word of God as to how we should respond to the current situation. As Christians, what should we personally do about the current crisis?
I. EXERCISE PRUDENCE AND COMMON SENSE
When Satan tempted Jesus to jump off the temple, Jesus countered the suggestion by quoting Deut. 6:16. Jesus said, “You shall not tempt the Lord your God” (Luke 4:12).v To force God’s hand by doing something so foolish is to tempt or test God. G. Campbell Morgan wrote, “The moment we do something to prove God, we are proving that we are not sure of God. Trust never employs tricks to find out whether the one trusted is trustworthy.”vi It is one thing to take a bold step of faith in obedience to God; it is another to initiate the same action for our own purposes as Satan suggested.
When Israel came to Kadesh-Barnea in Numbers 13 God had given them the land (Num. 13:2) and they we told to possess it. When the twelve spies came back from searching out Canaan, Caleb and Joshua insisted that they obey God and boldly enter into Canaan. Doing that would have been an act of faith because God had told them to do it and had promised to be with them. It was an act of unbelief when the nation decided to not trust God and not do what He had told them to do. But the same action became presumption, not faith, when God said they would not enter the Promise Land (Num. 14:22-30), and they tried to do so on their own initiative. That was disastrous (Num. 14:39-45).
In John 8 the Jews picked up stones to throw at Jesus to kill Him. Jesus’s response was interesting. He could have worked a miracle. He could have paralyzed those people. He could have struck them down dead. What did He do? He hid Himself. He slipped through the crowd and got away. John 8:59 says, “Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.” We see something similar in Paul’s life when the authorities were trying to arrest him. He did something very practical. In a conversation about humility, Paul told the story including how he escaped. In 2 Corinthians 11:33 he said, “but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and escaped from his hands.” Surely God could have done something more impressive. No, in this case Paul was to use the practical means available to him.
My point is this: in the absent of a divine command to do otherwise, we simply act with
prudence. We do not act in presumption. Presumption is driven by subtle pride. Faith acts in
What are some practical things we can do in the face of the current pandemic? Doctors and
governmental authorities are providing some guidance. (1) We should be more diligent than
usual about washing our hands, wiping them off with sanitizers, and avoid touching our face
after touching public facilities. (2) We should minimize exposure to large crowds when practical.
We may have to cut back on our entertainment activities. We may have to limit unnecessary
travel. We carry on our lives, but we simply use common sense. (3) The medical profession is
recommending we keep about 3 foot distance from others in public when possible. (4) We may
eat at home more instead of going out to restaurants so much. (5) If we get flu-like symptoms we