The Remedy for a Spiritual Coronavirus
by Ed Arcton
Reports of the coronavirus outbreak have spread faster than the highly transmissible virus itself. In the past, there have been many dreaded virus outbreaks like SARS and swine flu. But the novel coronavirus is most feared because when a person is infected, he may be infectious even though he is asymptomatic.
The fear of being infected is even more infectious than the virus itself. Fear causes governments to shut their borders to countries affected by it. As fear spreads like wildfire it makes people extremely anxious about their safety and health. Stocks of masks, hand sanitizers and thermometers are running out everywhere as panic buying depletes the shelves of supermarkets.
Fear is a spiritual coronavirus that can infect even the most faithful God-fearing Christian. Numbers 13-14 provides an account of how fear infected the Israelites terribly even though they had witnessed spectacular displays God’s awesome power as He led them through the wilderness from Egypt to the Promised Land.
Upon reaching its southern border, the Israelites sent twelve spies unto Canaan. Forty days later they returned with glowing reports that Canaan was truly a “land flowing with milk and honey.” They brought back bunches of grapes so huge that it took two men to carry them. But ten of the spies gave an exaggerated report. They claimed that the Canaanites were giants, and that the sky-high walls of the Canaanite cities made them impregnable. Therefore the Israelites could never overcome them.
Although Caleb and Joshua tried to convince the people to move in and occupy the land, the Israelites chose to listen to the ten spies. Their immediate response to the unfavorable report was fear. This became a massive epidemic that grew out of control and spread through the whole camp until the entire congregation cried and wept.
This spiritual coronavirus soon produced symptoms of doubting and complaining against God. They said, “And wherefore hath the LORD brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey?” (Number 14:3) Finally, the disease became full-blown in acts of disobedience. They decided to overthrow their leaders and return to Egypt. They were about to stone Moses, Aaron, Joshua and Caleb when God suddenly intervened. The ten spies who were the primary source of infection were struck dead. A whole generation was denied access to the Land of promise, quarantined as it were, because of their sin. Only their children would be permitted to enter and enjoy its blessings.
The Remedy: Trust in God
As we face the present outbreak, let us be careful not to fall into the same sin as the Israelites. Perhaps you may be staying away from all worship services and activities in church at present even though you are well because you heard that one of the three local transmission clusters is a church and its name happens to be similar to ours. If this is the case, you must not be overcome by fear.
In order to do this, you must learn what it means to trust in God. To trust in God is to depend fully upon Him. It means laying down the whole weight and hope of your expectation of mercy or deliverance upon Him.
The Bible makes it very clear that God’s people need to trust in Him: Psalm 9:10 – “And they that know Thy name will put their trust in Thee: for Thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek Thee.” Psalm 18:2 – “The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.”
It becomes especially needful for us to trust in God when fear grips our hearts. This enables us to see that our God is so much greater than all the things we fear. As Psalm 56:3 tells us, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee.” There are several things we need to trust God for.
1. Salvation – Ephesians 1:12, 13 – “That we should be to the praise of His glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise,” This trust is exclusive. When we trust in God for salvation, we are not to trust in anything else – our good works, our family background, upbringing, church membership, etc. God alone must be the object of our trust. Perhaps God has allowed the coronavirus outbreak as a wake up call to people everywhere to trust in Christ to save them from their sins.
2. Deliverance: We should trust the Lord to deliver us whenever we are sick or going through difficult trials: Psalm 25:18-20 – “Look upon mine affliction and my pain; and forgive all my sins. Consider mine enemies; for they are many; and they hate me with cruel hatred. O keep my soul, and deliver me: let me not be ashamed; for I put my trust in Thee.” If God is able to deliver us from eternal death in hell, surely He must be able to deliver us from a tiny microscopic virus. “Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.”
3. Daily Provisions: We should also trust in the Lord for our daily provisions. Hence we pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” The term “bread” here means “necessities, conveniences of this life, food, raiment, and housing.” One verse that clearly shows this is Philippians 4:19 – “But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” There is therefore no need to stock up on groceries and personal hygiene items or engage in selfish hoarding.
Human Responsibility vs. Trusting God
While we need to trust God for things in life like health, food and provisions, this does not mean that we do not have to exercise any responsibility for our own deliverance or daily provisions.
Abraham’s servant was commanded to find a wife for Isaac. In the prayer he made, he trusted God to guide him to the right woman for Isaac. But he then took the initiative to approach Rebecca and ask for a drink. God caused her to give the sign he had requested for: She not only gave him a drink but also gave water to his camels. So the servant later testified, “I being in the way, the Lord led me” (Genesis 24:27).
The same principle applies to God’s provision for our health and protection. While we pray that the Lord will keep us safe from the novel coronavirus, this does not mean that we can then stop observing all the precautionary measures. It does not mean that we do not have to see a doctor and that we can refuse to take medicine when we are very sick. We need to do these things, recognizing the biblical principle that God uses ordinary means to accomplish His purposes in our lives.
So let us take heed diligently to all the health advisories from the authorities with regular temperature taking, washing of hands and exercising good personal hygiene. At the present orange DORSCON level, we can still continue with our regular church activities while reducing non-essential ones to lessen opportunities for virus transmission. We have implemented precautionary measures in our church premises and will continue to make adjustments as we monitor the situation.
And let us also fulfill our responsibility as God’s people to bear one another’s burdens and show love to one another in practical ways. For instance, if you have elderly parents in our local church service who are not attending church because of the outbreak, please help them to worship from home by setting up the live-streaming of the worship service for them.
Above all, let us pray fervently that God will heal those who are ill from the coronavirus infection in our country and enable those whose lives and businesses are adversely affected to cope well with the effects of this outbreak.
May the Lord help us all to live by faith and not by fear!
In Christ Jesus, Our Hope of Glory
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