should Christians be afraid of the Coronavirus?

For the past few weeks when I open my Google News page, three out of the five headline stories are alerting me that the Coronavirus is spreading rapidly across the globe. Headlines such as, "Trump to talk Coronavirus..." and "Coronavirus spreads to the Middle East and beyond..." spark my interest. As I read these articles I see words such as "unstoppable" and "pandemic" being used to describe this infectious disease. As I take it all in I can't help but wonder, what does this really mean for me personally?

While it might not appear that people are taking these threats seriously, I would argue that they are. On the surface, everyone in the United States continues to go about their business, but in the back of their minds, people are starting to worry. Just today the HOA where I live began scheduling weekly, evening meetings to discuss how residents in our community can plan for when this disease strikes our neighborhood. My husband and I bought some canned food and bottled water to have on hand just in case it is needed. Peoples' panic is slowly but surely setting in.

As I am stocking my cupboards with non-perishable food items, I can't help but wonder how far I should really take my concerns. As a follower of Jesus where is the line drawn between trying to control my own destiny and simply being well-informed and prepared? Throughout my short life, I've seen situations where people were blessed for their "blind faith" as we call it. However, I've also seen times when refusal to take action because "God was in control" caused a lot of problems. I can't help but think that when it comes to anything we do there is a balance to be sought after. We trust God but we still wear our seatbelts and take our vitamins.

The entire book of Proverbs speaks openly and clearly to us about the gift of wisdom. Proverbs 3:13-18 says,

"Blessed is the one who finds wisdom and the one who gets understanding,  for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold.  She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her.  Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her; those who hold her fast are called blessed."

I believe this passage points out that God gave us a brain for a purpose! Isaiah 1:8 says, "come let us reason together..." God would not be reasoning with us if we were completely unable to discern anything. It is for this reason that I think it is perfectly acceptable and wise to prepare the best we can for disaster when it is about to strike. I am reminded of my childhood growing up in South Florida. Although my father was a very faithful and dedicated pastor, we still boarded up our house and stocked up on water when a hurricane was approaching. At one point we even evacuated our town entirely. It is good for us to make smart decisions, but it is also good for us to realize that our capabilities can only go so far. It is when we discover that our safety and our health is out of our hands that our true colors show up. Are we fearful or are we faithful?

Today I am writing to encourage you to be faithful. This morning on social media, I saw someone commenting on the Coronavirus, asking a fellow Facebook friend if they thought this disease was a sign of "End Times". I don't know if it is or it isn't- but at the very least it is a good practice run for us. We could analyze and discuss for hours what the phrase "End Times" even means according to the Bible, but I'd like to point out that I don't think it matters if we are near the end of the world or not, the way we live our life for Christ should be the same regardless.

It is easy for us to get caught up in our daily routines and our comfort zones... but it is also fairly easy to be reminded that our lives are fragile. They are precious. We always assume that tomorrow will come, but we don't know it for sure. Yes, the Coronavirus is scary because it is infectious and it has killed people, but so is cancer. So is war. So is civil unrest. The reality is, our lives are in constant danger. If we do not remember our desperate need for Jesus daily, we are being naive. The words of the popular Christian song "Who Am I" (based on scriptures found in Psalms, 2 Corinthians and 2 Peter) say it well:

I am a flower quickly fading Here today and gone tomorrow A wave tossed in the ocean A vapor in the wind

But praise God, the Bible doesn't leave us hanging... and neither does the song:

Still, you hear me when I'm calling Lord, you catch me when I'm falling And you've told me who I am I am yours

No matter what happens here on earth, God still loves and watches over us. Even if we were to die, as followers and believers of Christ we know that even death is ultimately nothing to fear.

Isaiah 41:10 fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Psalms 34:4 I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.

Proverbs 29:25 The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.

If the Coronavirus has you feeling uneasy and stressed over what your fate or the fate of your family might be, I encourage you to harness that fear and turn it into motivation. Allow it to motivate you to grow closer to God. He is the only one who can truly save you, and he is the only one who can give you peace. When we accept God's endless love for us and read his words daily in the Bible, the Holy Spirit takes our terrors away. There is a reason we read stories of martyrs singing as they were killed. They were not afraid- they knew there was more to their existence than life on earth. When we allow ourselves to fix our eyes on our Savior, the Holy Spirit gives us a new perspective. God does not scold us for feeling concerned. He welcomes our questions and our burdens. He wants us to give turn them over to him. He wants you to know that you don't have to worry. You can tell him your troubles and then you can stop dwelling on it. 1 Peter 7:7 says to cast all of our anxieties on Jesus. In your moments of uneasiness cry out to God and he will give you rest. He will also likely remind you that earth is temporary. He has more for you than the pain and problems of today.

Revelation 21:4 "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

So while we wait on Jesus' return, go buy some water, stock up your pantry with canned beans, and enjoy your life! Look at the birds of the air like the book of Matthew suggests. God has a plan and no earthly virus will get in the way of it.

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