Summary: If this year has taught us anything as Christians it is that this world may not be as stable as we once thought. So how are Christians to respond to a world in the midst of a pandemic?
Peace in the Midst of a Pandemic
Just over a year ago I retired as the pastor of FBC Vilonia, boy did I pick the year. 2020 is cer-tainly not a year that any of us is likely to forget. The year of a “pandemic” – comes from two Greek words – “pan” meaning all and “demo” meaning “people.” The first day of spring (March 2020) dawned with COVID-19 confirmed to be present in 157 countries, with suspected cases in 4 more. By April 15 the number of countries had jumped to 189 with 2,023,663 confirmed cases and 132,276 deaths worldwide. COVID-19 is present in every country in the Western hemisphere, every country in Europe, in Australia, and in almost every country in Asia and Africa. The only continent that is COVID-19 free is Antarctica. It has infected the poor and the rich, the famous and the obscure, the homeless and even the President of the United States. All of these numbers are rapidly rising.
If you have been feeling anxious this year, you’re not alone. Not surprisingly a recent study published in Journal of Internal Medicine found all the events of 2020 may actually have caused a record spike in anxiety.
In fact, the COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped the world in just a matter of weeks. Supermarkets are running low on supplies, for the first time in my lifetime, the shelves in stores looks like what I have seen in third world countries. I find a little weird that what American seem to have horded was toilet paper.
It is a little like what happen when the weather forecast calls for snow, “What do people rush out to buy?” Milk and Bread. Right.
Stock markets have fluctuated wildly! We are encouraged to “stay home and stay safe,” schools, churches, and businesses are forced to create “social distance”; or even to remain closed. we are required by law to wear face masks in public places, all to hopefully prevent the spread of disease. Behind closed doors of our homes, many people feel a mixture of emotions: worry, fear, doubt, skepticism, frustration, isolation, and uncertainty.
So how are Christians to respond to a world in the midst of a pandemic? First, we need to recognize that we are not the first generation of believers to face that question. It is the not the first pandemic nor the deadliest. Less than 150 years after Christ’s resurrection a devastating pandemic (the Galen pandemic -165-180 A.D.) swept across the Roman Empire, one of a series of plagues that killed millions. There have been numerous pandemics throughout history; the Black Death of the 14th century, Small Pox, Spanish Flu (1918-19), HIV/AIDS, Hong Cong Flu (1968-70) to name just a few.
Not only are we in the midst of a world-wide pandemic but a hotly contested national election. But we should not look to any political party to save us. We dare not identify our faith with any political party. Government cannot save us.
If this year has taught us anything as Christians it is that this world may not be as stable as we once thought. Like many westerner’s we crave comfort. If I am sick, I take medicine, if I am hungry I eat, if I am thirsty I turn on the faucet. And so, we have grown accustomed to comfort. We not only expect it: we demand it. And when God throws a wrench into our lives, like a pandemic that disrupts the way we live – we don’t handle it too well. We get frustrated, we grow anxious, we may even panic. We as modern-day American Christians are not good at uncomfortable.
Look to God’s Word on how to have peace
First, Perfect Peace comes from a Settled mind.
The prophet Isaiah wrote that God promised his people, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” (Isaiah 26:3) But please understand this promised peace is not a universal promise to just anyone. We must experience peace with God before we can experience the peace of God. The only way you can have the peace of God is to have peace with God. Individuals gain peace with God when they place their faith in Christ as their personal Savior (Romans 5:1). And we have the inner quiet peace of God when we walk daily with him.
The peace of God is the sense of moment by moment joy which we have as we trust our Heavenly father in the midst of problems of life. The peace of God is not something you can manufacture, buy or earn. It is a result of a heart that is totally surrendered to God. The Apostle Paul encourages believers in Philippians 4:6-7. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. (7) And the peace of God, which sur-passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”