So what is a biblical response to the pandemic plaguing our world? There are lots of opinions and probably all of them are correct. The Bible usually doesn’t speak in one dimensional ways to answer a question. Questions are complicated and God’s answers are not always simplistic.
Here are some things that come to my mind when I consider what Christ would have me to know, to grow into, and to respond with. These are things I’m doing. Perhaps these things will create new and even better responses from God in you.
I have an ache for every family that must experience a death from this virus. Numbers are tracked, mortality rates are processed, and projections are developed, yet every digit that clicks higher on the death column represents the anguish of a family, a spouse, a child, a brother or sister, a grandparent, aunt, uncle, niece, co-worker, mentor or friend. I pray that in the sorrow, God would come to these individuals with great comfort both inwardly as they look to God for their strength, and outwardly as God brings comfort and support to them from friends and family.
The tragedy of these broken lives speak to the larger tragedy of a world which for the most part believed God to be obscure and afar off from its all important business and entertainment activity. Most people prefer it this way. They really do not want a God who is near, especially when the world is in a relative calm. God complicates things for them. It is far better to relegate God to Sundays, to altars and communion moments and holidays of our own choosing then to consider God’s ways on a daily basis. So I pray that as people feel their lives move into the realm of an uncontrolled and unpredictable future, that each one would consider calling on the name of the Lord for their deliverance. I pray that they might find Jesus Christ to be the answer they are seeking not only of their current circumstance, which He is fully able and capable of bringing about, but that they would more fully consider the One who can give them eternal life.
I’ve had several ask me and maybe they have asked you: “Is this the apocalypse that is coming?” My response is usually something like, “Based upon my reading of the Bible, these are the signs and the birth pains of a coming apocalypse, but this is but a small marker compared to the horror of the Great Tribulation that is coming according to Jesus and what the book of Revelation has to say about the end. If God allows this little virus to create this kind of havoc and fear in our world, what will the end really be like?”
So why does God allow the easy collapsing of the world and its systems, and allow the inevitable suffering that comes with it? Without getting into a long treatise on the “why” of suffering, any reading through the book of Revelations will show many repetitions of terrible sufferings followed by a refusal of mankind to repent and seek God for help. In fact, the reason God gave the vision of the end to the Apostle John so that he would write it down was to show mankind that God in fact will conquer and win the day over every form of evil in the world, and furthermore, that everyone who wants to live forever should choose God’s side of the equation and begin to worship Him.
I also pray for people devoted to Jesus Christ, that they sense a deep awareness of God’s strength and protecting love upon their lives. It is in the suffering that comes upon us that our Christian hearts are tested and proved, stretched and strengthened; that we might learn to live in the Spirit and demonstrate the unsurpassable power of God who is at work within us. It is one thing to show contentment, joy, hope and love at a picnic on a beautiful spring day with friends and family; but the true mark of a devoted follower of Christ will be to show those same qualities in a dark and dreary season when the whole world is believing that the end is near and God is far away. It is in these seasons that true Christian devotion shows up, filled with tender-compassion, kindness toward others with generous love when people show up in desperate need. It is in these times that the world needs to see that there is a God and that He is alive in the lives of His servants.
Finally, I am looking for ways, even while quarantined, to help others in their need. Beyond sharing my toilet paper with others, I suspect there will be opportunities for me to run errands for people, help with food, shelter and other supplies when they are in need, particularly as money supplies dwindle. The prospect of thousands of jobs lost, a floundering economy, collapsing banks and businesses, strongly suggest that we should be prepared to show extraordinary acts of kindness both as families and as individuals. This pandemic will permanently change how people relate with each other and how businesses do business. These transitions will create fear and it is in the face of fear that Christians shine with a fierce and joyful love. Be prepared to show Who you belong to in the coming weeks and months.