The Bible, Fear and the Coronavirus
Introduction: Christians and Fear
The Great Depression was a severe world-wide economic upheaval that took place mostly during the 1930's starting in the United States. It began with the stock market crashing in 1929, and ended in 1941 with the coming of World War II. These were some horrible years in the United States for there were many who had little money and who had trouble finding work.
It was during this time period in 1933 at his first inaugural address that Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave a speech to calm the American people, let them know that it wasn't the end of the world and that all would eventually be all right. Here are some of his words:
"I am certain that my fellow Americans expect that on my induction into the Presidency I will address them with a candor and a decision which the present situation of our people impel. This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days."
It is with this speech that Roosevelt began his leadership as President of the United States that continued until his death in 1945. During that time, he helped lead our nation and the world through some of the most trying times in our history, which included the coming of World War II. Some say that his policies helped. Others say that they didn't. But despite what else happened during his administration, what Franklin Roosevelt did do was give many Americans hope for the future. And God raised him up for such a time as that was. He gave stability and leadership that helped stave off the fear that was brought on by those times.
We have been through many trying times since then and, as I write, there is another World War present. It is against a dreaded foe called the Caronavirus. It is something that we all must face together. Many are fearful about what is going to happen to them during this time. Unfortunately, some are panicked. We have to keep calm during this because sadly, fear can do more damage to people than the actual virus itself if we allow it to overcome us.
Scripture has a lot to say about the concept of fear. It records 365 times the phrase "do not be afraid." That is one time for every day of the year. The truth is that if God is our Savior, we have absolutely nothing of which to be afraid. Being fearful means that we, at least at that moment, are not displaying faith in the fact that God is in complete control and, nothing happens to us unless it is allowed by His sovereign gracious and loving hand.
In order to banish fear from our hearts and to get a heart of courage, the Christian has to get some biblical facts settled in his or her mind. And until we establish these facts we will be just as frightened as anyone else in this troubled world that doesn't have faith in a God of might and miracles.
I. God is All-Powerful
The first fact that Scripture teaches us which can help in times of trouble is the truth that God is omnipotent or all-powerful. In Jeremiah 32 the prophet Jeremiah realized this when he and his nation were going through one of the most devastating times in all of their history, the destruction of Jerusalem and the capture of the Northern Kingdom by Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians, here referred to as the Chaldeans.
The people of God had walked away from Him and were embracing other gods. So the Lord was about to punish this nation by bringing them into captivity. Jeremiah had been warning them for 50 years to repent and had no converts. Now his final word to this people was not to fight this judgment upon them by the Babylonians because they wouldn't win. God's will was that they be taken captive.
For his trouble, Jeremiah was imprisoned by Zedekiah, the King of Judah. While in prison God tells him to buy a patrimonial property, which was his brother Hanamel's. He did this as a sign that God would again restore His people to the land that they are about to lose.
Then Jeremiah said a prayer to the Lord which begins:
"Ah Lord God! Behold, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm!. Nothing is too difficult for You who shows lovingkindness to thousands, but repays the iniquity of fathers into the bosom of their children after them, oh great and mighty God! The Lord of hosts is His name!" (Jeremiah 32:17-18).
So Jeremiah, during the greatest crisis a nation could go through, realized that God was in charge and that He could do anyting that He wants. He created all that there is and is perfectly capable of taking care of Jeremiah and all the Lord's people and had everything under His sovereign control. Further, that was true no matter how things looked at the moment. God's will would ultimately be done. And the Lord's promises to Israel would be accomplished. He would not abandon them.
And God won't abandon His people in the 21st century either!
II. God's Plans Go Far Beyond this Life
The next fact that we all have to realize during a time of crisis and fear is that this life is not all that there is. We all tend to think in terms of this small span of 80-100 years or less that we live on this earth and forget that the Lord has plans for us that stretch into eternity. I love the book of Ephesians that the Apostle Paul wrote. Especially when he lays out the Lord's blueprint for us that began in eternity past and stretches into eternity future. Here is what he says:
" Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory." (Ephesians 1:3-14).
When we look forward to the day when God's plan is complete and we are standing in the New Heaven and the New Earth where there is no more mourning or crying or pain, then the wars, the viruses and the plagues that make up make up this life have less terror.
No matter what is happening at the moment, God is using it to conform us to the image of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. And then we will be what we were meant to be when God created us in the first place. Indeed, we can truly say, no matter what we have experienced of good or bad in this life, for the believer, the best is yet to come!
III. God is With Us in the Meantime
A third fact that should keep us calm in a time of crisis is the reality that God is always with us, The Lord told Joshua, after the death of Moses, just before he was about to lead the children of Israel into the promised land:
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."
That which was true of Joshua, is even more true of the believer today. For God is not just with us, the Holy Spirit dwells in us. Our bodies are called the temples of the Spirit (I Corinthians 6:19,20). We were bought and paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ. and we belong to Him. He loves us and cares about everything that goes on in our lives.
Jesus, In Matthew 10:29-31, talked of the sparrows that are sold for a farthing. Yet none of them will fall to the ground without the Father knowing it. He goes on to say that the very hairs of our head are all numbered. In other words He knows all about us. He then said that we are more valuable than any sparrow, so we shouldn't fear.
He further talks about the birds in the Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 6:26 Jesus tells us that these creatures don't reap or put things in barns. And yet the Lord feeds them. Then he once again tells us that we are more valuable than any birds.
God loves us, wants the best for us and cares for our needs. This should comfort us when we are tempted to be frightened by what is happening.
IV. Peace Comes from Concentrating on God and not Circumstances
Another fact that we need to remember is that peace comes from concentrating on God and not our circumstances. The prophet Isaiah speaking to God said that:
"You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You because he trusts in you." (26:3).
We can also say with Isaiah:
"Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; For the Lord God is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation." (12:2).
Paul tells us:
"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
Finally, the writer to the Hebrews gives us this warning:
"Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said: "I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you." so that we confidently say, "The Lord is my Helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?" (Hebrews 13:5,6).
And we can add, during this time of international crisis: "What can a virus do to me?" God has promised to be there through it all. And concentrating on this, as well as memorizing Scriptures that tell us of His presence, will keep us at peace despite any storm that may be happening all around us.
That doesn't mean that we tempt God by not following orders from officials trying to keep the people safe. We can socially isolate, and wash our hands if that is what needs to be done now. However, we must continue to trust God for safety and protection through it all.
V. Peace Comes Through Counting Our Blessings
A final fact that we should concentrate on is the certainty that we are one of the most blessed nations on the face of the earth. And counting our blessings is one of the best ways to minimize dwelling on our troubles. Gratitude for God's goodness to us and the fact that we live in a nation that is rich in resources and gives people the freedom to become what God has designed us to be is something that many people would give up everything to get. Yet many of us have these blessings simply because we were born here in this land.
The Psalmist has written:
"Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul and forget none of His benefits; Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases." (Psalm 103:1-4).
Notice that the benefits include the fact that we have been given a pardon of our sins. That pardon is because of God's grace through faith in Jesus Christ. We need to recite these and other Scriptures on a regular basis, for God has given us so much for which to be thankful.
As Christians, we have also been lavished with all the Spiritual blessings that being in Christ affords. Two of those include the fact that we are Sons of God through faith in Jesus, and we are joint heirs with Christ. In other words, everything that Jesus will inherit, we will as well. And, of course, those blessings are eternal. We must claim them and the promises of God, for it is they which will make what's going on in the world seem to pale in comparison.
Another great World War II leader that had a lot to do with helping to keep the world from panicking, was the Great British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill. On May 13, 1940 he gave a defining speech to the Parliament of the United Kingdom in which he said:
I would say to the House as I said to those who have joined this government: "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat". We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering.
"You ask, what is our policy? I will say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark and lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: Victory. Victory at all costs—Victory in spite of all terror—Victory, however long and hard the road may be, for without victory there is no survival."
The enemy during this period in history were the Axis powers. Our enemy today is not human and can't even be seen. However, the Christian has always fought an unseen enemy. We fight against Satan and all of His followers.
And what can be said of Satan, can be said of the Caronavirus and any other enemy that may come up against the Christian:
"But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!" (ICorinthians 15:57).
Paul here was talking about Christ's ultimate power over death, which is the final enemy here in this passage. But we can use it in this battle as well.
Jesus Christ has already won the war. We may go through battles and massive problems in this world. But Jesus in John 16:33 states that:
"In the world you will have trouble. But be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."
Remember that fear is not from God. Because Scripture tells us:
"For God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power; and of love and of a sound mind." (II Timothy 1:7).
The bottom line, with regard to the coronavirus, is that this too shall pass. The world has not yet come to an end. God is still in His heaven and we will get through this. What Christians should be doing now is helping out in every way possible by telling people about our faithful God who is the answer to every problem that this world can throw at us.
Like in any crisis, the people of this world are looking to good leaders to calm their fears and give them answers. What they need to know is that the greatest answer to their problem is not a cure for a virus, but a cure for sin. The virus can destroy physical life. Sin destroys the soul.
So lets not panic. It is only by a calm, reasoned response that we can prove to the world that we follow the only Person that can really help us in this life and give to the people of this world eternal life as well. The world is looking for solutions. Lets give them Jesus. For He alone is the solution to their eternal well-being.
© 2020 Jeff Shirley