Summary: A radio message addressing the Coronavirus panic. Steps for the conscientious Christian to conquer the panic induced by fear.

David Jeremiah recently provided a brief message for his San Diego congregation. He spoke about how Christians should respond to the Coronavirus panic. [1] I intend to use these points for followers of the Christ in the order Pastor Jeremiah presented them in his encouraging message. I suspect that they would be roundly rejected by many who are outside the Faith of Christ the Lord, though the points presented would prove valuable for anyone. Nevertheless, maximum value will undoubtedly be realised by those who are on speaking terms with the Lord God.

People throughout our region, like people in almost every nation of the world, are deeply concerned about the possibility of being infected by the COVID-19 virus. The virus was first recognised as an infectious agent in the Chinese city of Wuhan. Though medical personnel in that city warned that the virus was exceptionally contagious and that it appeared to have a higher mortality rate than other flu-like illnesses, Chinese Communist officials reportedly attempted to stifle release of information about the virus. Their delay in containing the contagion and their reluctance to notify the appropriate health authorities in other nations of the ease of transmission or warn them of the lethality of the virus ensured a rapid and widespread transmission of the COVID-19 virus.

Few nations had been alerted to the danger they faced, and consequently, nations acted quite late in their efforts to halt the spread of the virulent pathogen. A few nations did act swiftly to impose restrictions on people who attempted to enter from infected areas. Such efforts were condemned by news organisations as being xenophobic and/or racist. The charges of racism frequently caused hesitation when speed was required.

Health authorities in multiple nations are now walking a tightrope as they attempt to keep people informed about the need to take sane precautions to avoid the risk of infection without inducing panic. No one should minimise the serious nature of this particular virus, but neither should people panic concerning the presence of the virus. Canada has weathered SARS, H1N1, Swine Flu, and MERS during the first two decades of this present century. We are blessed to live in a time when medical science provides a greater measure of protection than at any time in the history of mankind. We have been living with AIDS for well over thirty years now, and advances in treatment of the various ailments that continue to afflict us continue apace. We are well prepared to respond.

On March 11th, the World Health Organisation declared the COVID-19 virus a global pandemic. Suddenly, people took the illness seriously. The National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball, and the National Hockey League are suspending games. Broadway theatres in New York City have gone dark through April 12th. Schools at all levels have either cancelled classes or classes are being offered online. Children are to be kept at home, while exasperated parents are challenged to begin home-schooling, if not “home entertaining.” Even Disneyland and Walt Disney World is closed through mid-April. Non-essential jobs are no longer to be performed, and even many medical/dental offices are closed as the physicians or the dentists self-isolate because they may have inadvertently been in contact with someone infected with the virus.

For those who complain that the actions of governments are too harsh need to hear what some are saying. Andy Crouch has been quoted as saying, “Any action by leaders to impose drastic measures against COVID-19 that doesn’t seem too early to most people will be, in fact, too late. Correspondingly, any action to lift mitigation measures that don't seem too late, will be too early.” [2] That assessment is probably correct. It is unlikely that governments will soon relax the strictures they have put in place as they struggle to respond to the spread of the disease.

So, what should the conscientious Christian do in these uncertain times? When the world seems to be spinning out of control and people are reacting rather than taking positive steps, what can the follower of the Christ do? Here are some steps that will make a difference for the one who will honour God in these trying times.

CONCENTRATE ON PRAYER — Now is a wonderful time to pray. Certainly, prayer should be the first response of the follower of Christ in time of trouble. Tragically, prayer is often the last thing we do. Perhaps we imagine that we are in control. However, our current situation makes it obvious that we are not in control. With the Psalmist, the wise Christian will look up and proclaim,

“I trust in you, O LORD;

I say, ‘You are my God.’

My times are in your hand!”

[PSALM 31:14-15a]

You have heard me refer to Jehoshaphat, King of Judah, in a day of trial. A coalition of powerful enemies were moving to attack the nation. If they were not stopped, they would surely destroy the nation. The first thing the godly king did was to call the nation to prayer—and he led the people in praying! As he prayed, he reminded the LORD that God was pledged to deliver His people. Jehoshaphat began by affirming his faith, “If disaster comes upon us, the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before you—for your name is in this house—and cry out to you in our affliction, and you will hear and save” [2 CHRONICLES 20:9]. What is especially encouraging to read is the manner in which he concluded his plea to the Lord GOD. “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you” [2 CHRONICLES 20:12b].

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