By Pastor Dave Watson
The Corona Virus is a major concern in both our world and our nation right now. Our national, state and local governments are taking unprecedented steps to avoid the spread of this virus. We should take this situation seriously and follow the suggestions and guidance given by our medical professionals and our governmental leaders to the best of our abilities. After all, the Scriptures refer to our leaders as “ministers of God on our behalf.” (Romans 13:6)
The cold hard truth about the coronavirus is that most of us will not be infected by it; however, all of us will be affected by it on some level. There is another malady right now, however, that our country, state and city are in immediate danger of contracting. As a result of our 24 hour news cycle and our smart phones, tablets and computers, we all are being exposed to “coronavirus-hysteria.” It doesn’t present an immediate physical danger but it is extremely bad for our mental and spiritual state. It easily can rob us of our sense of security, our peace, our joy and to some degree our sanity. Let me make a few strong suggestions to keep ourselves from being infected by this hysteria.
Know if you are among the vulnerable population. The actual coronavirus is very dangerous to those with compromised immune systems. If our spiritual immune system is weak, we are susceptible to the hysteria surrounding the virus. I need to ask myself if my walk with God is compromised by living in unconfessed and unrepented sin. If so, I need to take immediate steps to get myself right with God by restoring my fellowship with Him. We are warned that if we regard sin in our hearts the Lord will not hear us (Psalm 66:18). Remember the Scriptural promise that “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) Restoration is only a sincere prayer of confession away.
Cultivate a strong immune system. When one is physically healthy they can fight off the corona-virus and may not even know they have it. Similarly, good spiritual health, a healthy spiritual immune system if you will, gives us the ability to fight off coronavirus-hysteria. I cultivate a healthy spiritual life by maintaining the spiritual disciplines of daily prayer, daily Bible reading, regular fellowship with other believers and the consistent sharing of my faith. It is never too late to begin to get spiritually healthy. You can start, or restart, those disciplines today. Paul tells Timothy to “train yourself toward godliness.” (1 Timothy 4:7)
Wash your hands frequently. This is one of the main ways we are told we can protect ourselves from contracting the coronavirus. Doing this disinfects us and makes us unlikely to carry the germs with us. Did you know that the Scriptures are sometimes referred to as water? In fact, we are told that God is sanctifying us (disinfecting us) by the washing of the water by the Word (Ephesians 5:26). Jesus, in fact, prayed to His Father with reference to his disciples to “Sanctify them (disinfect them) through Your truth, Your Word is truth.”(John 17:17) Our minds and hearts right now are being bombarded with all kinds of information — some true, some troubling, some hyped, some false and misleading. How do I sort out life in these crazy times? God’s Word, which brings us back to God’s View of things, is the key. We would all do well to write out some important Scriptures like Philippians 4:6-7 on file cards or slips of paper and meditate on them daily.
Limit your exposure to those who may be infected with the coronavirus. This is a surefire way to stop the transmission of illness to ourselves and our family. In a similar way, we need to avoid the sources of coronavirus-hysteria. I have in mind here people in our lives that are freaking out and have bought more toilet paper than food in the last week. I also mean the media sources that are continually hyping the worst case scenarios, in some part, because they think this drives up their ratings. Please, please, please, socially distance from people who are hysterical and from the media that is hyper-hysterical. Get the news you need and then shut them out and off. Paul’s words to the Philippians are helpful here. He says “ Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”(Philippians 4:8)
If we show symptoms of the coronavirus we are told to: see a doctor, get tested and self-quarantine. Heed that advice. That is also good advice for us if we show symptoms of coronavirus-hysteria. If we are the ones who bought more toilet paper than food, if we are so anxious we can’t pray or think about what we have to do, if we find we are talking like we have had too much caffeine….then we need to see a physician…. the Great Physician that is. We need to self-quarantine and let Him do a thorough exam on us. We need to get alone with God, shut everything out and listen for His still, small calming voice. We need to “be still and know that He is God.” (Psalm 46:10).
Before I close I would be amiss if I didn’t mention that a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ is crucial, not just now, but always. Jesus came to deal with our deepest problem, our sin, and to bring us into a right relationship with God. Peter reminds us that “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit.”(1 Peter 3:18) We can have unending peace with God because of what Christ has done for us. (Romans 5:1)
It is very possible that this crisis is going to get worse before it gets better. If so, the hysteria will grow with it. We live in uncertain times, but as Christians we can be certain that our God is in control and that for those who love Him He will work all things for their good (Romans 8:28) – even this hideous virus. Please take a moment and re-read the suggested passages above and implement them into your life. If we do this, we will not suffer from the hysteria and panic that seems to be mounting around us. Instead, we will have peace in the midst of this storm.