March 10, 2020
How do we guard ourselves against an invisible threat?
How do we fight an enemy that seems more powerful than we can handle?
How do we keep calm when we’re no longer sure about the safety of the very air we breathe?
Since January, we’ve been constantly bombarded by news and stories about the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
To date, thousands of people around the world have been infected and the death toll is rising by the day. While people take the necessary measures to prevent the spread of the disease, containing the virus and finding a cure remain to be serious challenges.
Thankfully, we find hope in the midst of global panic as we hear stories of healing and recovery. The World Health Organization has been working triple time to educate people, calm fear, provide aid, and coordinate with world leaders to find a cure and finally eradicate the virus.
Health authorities have been relentless in reminding the people to take extreme precautions, to observe proper hygiene and sanitization, and to exercise wisdom so they can protect themselves from the disease.
But something more fatal than COVID-19 has gripped the world and is infecting millions of people as we speak. No small thanks to the internet, this “virus” has spread even more quickly than COVID-19 and continues to spread from people’s mobile devices to people’s actual lives beyond their digital screen: fear.
As the COVID-19 situation intensifies, more and more people become fearful. How do we respond in the face of a clear and present danger?
I am reminded of the story of a king in the Bible. His name is Jehoshaphat, and his story can be found in 2 Chronicles 20. It goes like this. One day, King Jehoshaphat received bad news that three kingdoms have conspired to defeat his kingdom. His messenger told him that the enemies were on their way, meaning they had no time to prepare for war. To make matters worse, they know that their military power was no match to the great armies of these allied nations.
His kingdom was on the brink of collapse and his people faced potential annihilation at the hands of their enemies; fear and terror were the only reasonable response in this situation. But King Jehoshaphat, despite his great fear, responded differently. He prayed:
“Lord, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you. . . . ‘If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.’ . . . Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”
2 Chronicles 20:6,9,12 (NIV)
As fear spreads online and in our communities, let us follow the example of King Jehoshaphat.
1. Acknowledge God’s sovereignty. Power and might are in His hands, and no one can withstand Him (2 Chronicles 20:6). God remains sovereign and in control in the midst of chaos. God is not just seated on His throne, He is right here with us, and He’s using this situation to carry out His plans for the world.
2. Hope in God’s salvation. Even if calamity or plague comes upon us, we know that God will hear us and save us when we cry out to Him. Ultimately, our hope is anchored on the truth that Jesus has already defeated death on the cross, and by His wounds we are healed. This is why we can cry out in victory, “Death, where is your sting? Death, where is your victory?” (1 Corinthians 15:55)
3. Set your eyes on God. Jehoshaphat had plenty of valid reasons to fear—a vast army stood against him, death was upon them. But he chose to look past the threat and fixed his eyes on God. “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you” (2 Chronicles 20:12). In this time of great fear, where do you choose to fix your eyes?
Times like these compel us to lock arms for the sake of humanity. Now is the time to exercise wisdom and prudence, especially with the things we post and the information we share on social media. Spreading fear and fake news will do nothing to improve the situation.
Also, having the right information from reliable sources can help us gain a better perspective and properly guide us on how to respond to the issue. There is hope. Experts say that it is possible to recover from the disease, and the global scientific community is working closely to develop treatments and vaccines for the virus.
Practically speaking, the best way to keep the virus from spreading is to abide by government recommendations with regard to public health and safety. This includes observing proper hygiene, avoiding densely populated areas, practicing coughing and sneezing etiquette, and doing self-quarantine when you’re not feeling well.
This virus looks past the color of our skin, sees beyond our political views, and respects no borders. Humanity is faced with a common enemy, and the only way to win is to fight together, not one another. Discrimination and racism only add fuel to the fire. If we raise our fist to fight, let it be for humanity, not against it. Let love and compassion for one another be our battle cry.
To my fellow Christians, the world needs us now more than ever—people who pray, speak hope, drive away fear, and extend help when it is required. Let God’s love and the gospel of Jesus Christ overtake the fear that plagues the people. Be the salt and light in your campus, family, and community.
Should this virus force us down on our knees, let it be in prayer, not defeat. Desperate times call for deeper faith. And this faith is anchored on the truth that God is sovereign over the earth. We know that this shall come to pass someday soon, and we will see the goodness of the Lord at the end of this.
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
Psalm 46:10 (NIV)
Yes, we are more than conquerors through Jesus, even in the face of this epidemic. I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. (Romans 8:38, NLT)
God’s got this.