The Bible tells us where the Coronavirus comes from and what it’s end is. We live in a fallen world. When God cursed the ground (Genesis 3:17), he subjected all of creation to futility (Romans 8:20). It is from that decisive moment that COVID-19, and – really – any tragedy or disaster that has ever been or will be, originates. But God laid this curse on creation in the promise of freeing creation from its bondage to corruption into the glory of the children of God (Romans 8:21). That is the end of COVID-19. The pressing question then is this: how are we to live out our faith and live for God now?
Four Ways to Live for God
I suggest four practical steps for your consideration:
1. Remember, and Rest in, Our Glorious Hope
We must face these uncertain times with a sober mindedness that is anchored firmly in the hope of the gospel. We must, by the power of the Holy Spirit, resist the alarmist tendency that is engulfing people everywhere. For we are driven by a hope that can never be cut short by a pandemic or tragedy. That being said, believers are not promised exemptions from the corruption and decay that marks the present age (2 Corinthians 4:16; Romans 8:24; John 16:33; Acts 14:22).
We must face these uncertain times with a sober mindedness that is anchored firmly in the hope of the Gospel
However, because God in his unfailing might has promised to bring us to glory, it is also true of us that “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I [Paul] am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:37-39).
This kind of confidence must direct our lives, anxieties and hopes. Regardless of whether God mercifully shields you from this pandemic, or allows you to be infected by COVID-19, not even death can separate you from the love of Christ. The believer’s hope of future glory cannot be lost. If anything, death is the path to this glory. To live for God is joy and to die is gain.
2. Rest in God’s Sovereign Hands, But be Responsible
Though fully assured of God’s sovereignty, we must do everything possible to curb the spread of the virus. It is not antithetical to say, “To live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21) and yet to rejoice and count it mercy when God heals a dying believer (Philippians 2:27-30). By the same token, we must exercise a bold and confident hope while taking necessary precautions. Resting in God’s sure promises and preventing the spread of COVID-19 are not mutually exclusive. Submission to God’s sovereign providence does not cancel out our responsibilities. We are commanded to love our neighbours as ourselves.
We must exercise a bold and confident hope while taking necessary precautions. Resting in God’s sure promises and preventing the spread of COVID-19 are not mutually exclusive
Therefore we should minimise social contact and wash hands frequently and thoroughly with soap. Cough and sneeze into a tissue or armpit, then discard the tissue in a waste bin. Refrain from touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Clean high traffic surfaces and objects. Seek medical attention when symptoms show. Avoid direct contact with people and animals living in affected areas, and self-quarantine for two weeks if you do. We must do all of this while confidently trusting in our sovereignly gracious and compassionate heavenly Father.
3. Pray to God for Mercy and Make Petition for Others
We should pray for the Lord’s mercy. That was David’s example even when he knew that the pestilence Israel were facing was God’s judgment for his prideful census. May it not be said of the church in our day and age that we did not receive a dramatic reversal of the trends in the spread of the virus because we did not ask (James 4:2).
May it not be said of the church in our day and age that we did not receive a dramatic reversal of the trends in the spread of the virus because we did not ask
Rather we should remember that just as God brought a three-and-half-year drought and then took it away, all in answer to Elijah’s prayer, who was himself of like nature like us, so also God may be pleased to work in our time and through our prayers (James 5:16-18; see 1 Kings 17-19).
4. Proclaim Christ
We must proclaim the hope of the gospel, and carry out acts of mercy as we are able. Jesus cautioned against reading the signs of both manmade death and natural disaster (Luke 13:1-5). He said, “unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” We must be tender enough to feel the pain and worry of those who are sick. Sympathy must follow news of death, even lost income. These are some of the painful and devastating realities of COVID-19. So believers in Jesus must care for and love those those suffering through various ordeals.
While we are filled with His compassion for the masses, let us also earnestly invite them to the rest that is in Jesus
However, for those experiencing such losses as unbelievers we must not neglect to tell them that there is a worse devastation to come: facing death as an enemy of the cross. For the non-Christian, Jesus’ warning is “unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:5). Let us feel the urgency of these words. So while we are filled with His compassion for the masses (Matthew 9:36), let us also earnestly invite them to the rest that is in Jesus (Matthew 11:28-30).
“Now my Eye Sees You”
One accomplishment of tragedies and calamities in the lives of believers is that they press us to a humble and hope-filled surrender before God. They insist on greater reliance on God’s Word, his promises. They demand that we desire more of his wisdom and power. Tragedies compel us to live for God.
This was Job’s experience. After all of his health and wealth were stripped from him, and then restored, he confessed: “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:2). “I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know” (Job 42:3). “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5-6).
May it be said that the church in our generation experienced a revival of its love for the Lord and her neighbours because of this tragedy. May God root our confidence in himself. For his purposes cannot fail.