At the risk of oversimplifying what the World Health Organization is calling a pandemic, I would guess that we, our families, our neighbors, our country and our world isn’t ultimately afraid of a virus. We, in all of our strategic wisdom, don’t ultimately fear overwhelming the healthcare system, what this virus will do to our economy or the potential to not have toilet paper at the next bathroom visit (although that is a scary thought now that I mention it). The core of our fear has always been the same thing: death and our lack of control. Death represents finality. Death is ambiguous for most in our culture. Death is the promise that we are not in control and that we will fall into the hands of a righteous and holy God. Death is final and COVID-19 is a new symbol for it.
If death is our ultimate fear, then our ultimate longing isn’t simply a cure for this, or the promise that our economy will be okay, or an unending supply of vitamins, hand sanitizer and toilet paper. Deep down in our souls, we know that living a comfortable and cozy life to 100 feels short, and that’s because we were created with eternity written on our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11). As good as it is to exercise wisdom and pursue good practices as individuals, families, communities, as a country and as a world, we must realize that our best practices cannot ultimately fix anxiety and fear. We need something more solid to cling to than our own resources and finite understanding. We need the truth of God’s Word.
Here are two simple, and yet massive truths that I pray will help fight anxiety and fear better than washing your hands well (which you should still do) or knowing when and how long to quarantine yourself from the rest of the planet (which you should still submit to governing authorities in, see Romans 13:1).
1.) God is Sovereign. He is, has been and ever will be in control of everything. Psalm 115:3 says, “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.” God’s hands are not tied by a virus. God’s arm is not too short to save (see Isaiah 59:1). God is both omnipotent and omniscient. That means he is all-powerful (omnipotent) and all-knowing (omniscient) simultaneously and he is the only One that can multi-task perfectly. Our days are numbered according to his complete and utter sovereign plan and no virus or government regulation will be able to interfere with that (Psalm 139:16).
2.) God is mercifully victorious. His mercies won’t be exhausted and he never tires of dishing them out to his children each and every day. The faithfulness of God to care for those who are his doesn’t come to an end because of strife in your marriage, drama at your job, struggles with a sinful addiction or COVID-19 (Lamentations 3:22-24). The victory of Christ’s cross can’t be overstated. Jesus beat death. There is no sickness or sin that will have the final word -Christ will. While we will never fully grasp the power of the gospel in its entirety, everyone who is in Christ is promised eternal victory. This means absence of sin, absence of sickness, absence of fear, absence of tears and the presence of God where we will find our joy unceasing and to the full (Psalm 16:11).
While we as believers have a feast waiting for us in heaven, in this life we can still experience the confident joy of knowing and walking with Jesus now as we step forward with compassion and courage to love others well on this side of eternity.
So if you’re a Christian, I plead with you to know that your greatest battle is not found in being right or a pursuit of self-preservation. Your greatest battle is to be compassionate and courageous. We know that the fear of death is the core fear that is being unveiled during a time like this then making fun of mass-hysteria on your Social Media accounts probably isn’t helping your lost friends and family find the comfort that they are desperately grasping for. Be patient, kind and compassionate as your heavenly Father never ceases to be with you. Also, be courageous. With confidence in God’s sovereign goodness, you know that COVID-19 cannot squelch the power of the gospel but it can create opportunity for the gospel’s power to shine. Be bold and courageous as you love people well with the gospel.
When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. – 1 Corinthians 15:54-58