These are unprecedented times in our nation and the world. Never in our lifetime have we seen such an extraordinary situation unfold that impacts every corner of the world in one way or another and has also created an atmosphere of fear. The culprit is known as the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
The impact of the virus has, to a large degree, halted air travel as we know it. People are observing the stay-at-home order issued by state governments in order to help prevent the spread of the disease. Schools are closed, churches are closed, businesses are closed—except for those considered essential. Many retail stores are closed. Grocery store shelves are depleted. Delivery trucks and other modes of transportation used to get food and other supplies to the various stores are greatly impacted. As of this writing, more than 22 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits as a result of this shutdown.
Medical offices have scaled back their hours of operation and the types of patients they see. Hospitals are overwhelmed with patients who are sick with the virus. They are facing staffing shortages and lack the necessary equipment to keep their staff safe while handling the large influx of patients. People are dying from the disease and family members can only watch from a distance because they are not allowed to be with their sick or dying family member.
In these uncertain times, I am reminded of the words of a well-known hymn, “In times like these you need a Savior. In times like these you need an anchor.” The only Anchor who can keep us steadfast through these challenging times is the Rock, Christ Jesus. The faith of those who profess to be Christians is being greatly tested, and, in spite of the difficulties, we must be encouraged by the promises in God’s Word. Ephesians 6:10-13, NIV, reminds us to “Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”
The coronavirus does not discriminate by age, gender, financial status, or political or religious affiliation. Everyone, including Adventists, is impacted by the virus and is experiencing this time of crisis. The question is, in times like these, How should Christians respond to the COVID-19 pandemic?
Do Not Despair or Be Afraid
Regardless of what is happening around us, God is still sovereign. He is still in control and nothing that is happening is a surprise to Him. Christians need not despair or be afraid, because we can trust God to accomplish His perfect will through whatever may come.
In 2 Timothy 1:7, NKJV, it says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear; but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” If we take God at His word and trust in Him, He will keep in “perfect peace” those whose minds are stayed on Him (Isaiah 26:3). Deuteronomy 31:6, NKJV, reminds us to “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”
Connect With Family and Friends
Visiting family members and friends is not possible while physical distancing and the shelter-at-home orders remain in effect. However, this does not mean that we can’t communicate with them. We should look for opportunities to stay in touch, utilizing the many communication resources at our disposal, including the phone, texting, and social media, to name a few. Nothing can replace face-to-face contact and human touch, but there are so many ways to stay connected. We can use this as a time to check on them, pray with them, and share encouraging words and scripture texts that will serve to lift their spirit. Check in on the seniors and those who live alone. Let them know you care about them and their well-being.
Stay in Touch With Your Church
The arrival of the coronavirus has pushed many congregations out of their comfort zone from worshiping in a building with four walls to having church on the Internet with no walls. They have discovered that they are not alone, but many others are joining them for worship as well. Church leaders have had to quickly adapt to this new way of having church and connecting with their members. It is evident that things cannot go back to the way they were, and leaders need to capitalize on this opportunity to reach the online community which has never before been reached with the message of salvation and the soon return of Jesus.
Look for Opportunities to Be the Hands and Feet of Jesus
If there was ever a time when we, as Christians, have the opportunity to help those in need, it is now, even in the midst of this crisis. From reports coming in, many of our churches with food banks and community service centers are involved with assisting those who are in need. They range from those who are most susceptible to the virus, to those who have lost their jobs, to the elderly, and more. All those who are involved in being the hands and feet of Jesus need to follow the requirements set by the governments of each state so that they, and those they serve, remain safe.
Strengthen Your Spiritual Experience
The time confined to home is a perfect opportunity to strengthen your spiritual walk with the Lord and to develop in other ways as well. It is also important to take the opportunity to spend time on personal development. Read books, put together puzzles, and spend time with family members who are in the home with you. There are so many things you can do with this time that’s available to you.
Now, more than ever, it is important to stay in God’s Word and hold on to His promises. Spend time studying the Bible and meditating on what you are reading. We have no answers to the puzzling questions that arise as a result of this crisis. Some things just don’t make sense. All we can do is to reach out to God and pray. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, “Pray without ceasing.” You can create a list of those who need prayers and earnestly pray for them. Take time to seek God’s will for your life. This is precious time that you can’t get back if it goes unused.
There is no question that the loss of life and suffering caused by the coronavirus is tragic. As it runs its course, it will likely touch everyone in the world in one way or another. Our response as Christians should be one of hope. Hope that, in the final analysis, we will be victorious and God’s name will be glorified. “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever”—Psalm 107:1, NKJV.
It may be a time of darkness, but each of us, as Adventist Christians, can be a light shining in that darkness, bringing hope to as many people as possible. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven”—Matthew 5:16, NKJV.