The only thing that has spread faster than the coronavirus itself is the fear raging around it. Since the first outbreak was reported in China several months ago, it has now reached around the world, causing widespread panic and alarm like I have seldom seen before—if ever.
Here at home, businesses and industries have been severely affected. Schools and universities have suspended classes. Many airports have become ghost towns, as transportation has been sharply curtailed. Some stores have seen their shelves emptied by frightened shoppers. Professional and collegiate sporting events have been called off. Stock markets have swung wildly, plunging in declines not seen since 1987.
Despite all of our good attempts at reducing the spread of the virus, we can’t stop it completely. It only took a few months to travel the entire globe. However, in the midst of all this growing hysteria, here are a few things we can know.
We can know that whatever we are facing—including a formidable virus—we have a God who has promised to never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). Jesus said that He would be with us always (Matthew 28:20). So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear” (Hebrews 13:6).
He is the Good Shepherd who loves us. In the 23rd Psalm He promises to lead us into green pastures and beside still waters. He is the One who restores our soul. Even though we may go through the valley of the shadow of death, we do not have to fear any evil. Our Lord is with us and is able. He has a rod to guide and direct us, and He has a staff to correct us. We can take great comfort in knowing that He has prepared a table for us. He anoints our head with oil.
Right now, America’s soul needs to be restored, and that is something only the Good Shepherd can do.
Not only can we know that God is with us, we also can take comfort and find hope that our God rules over all. He is sovereign over every detail of our lives. Not a single sparrow, a single atom or a single germ lies outside of His control. He rules over nations, over kings, over history, over evil, over pandemics. There is nothing outside of His command, and He will use everything for His glory and our good.
We can also know that no circumstance can come into our lives that will in any way affect His loving care for us. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? … For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing [including a virus], shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35, 38-39).
When we do fear, the Scriptures tell us that we can turn to a Mighty God who will hear us and take our cares upon His strong shoulders, “casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). We do so by knowing that we can trust Him for whatever fear or uncertainty troubles our soul. “Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God (I will praise His word), in God I have put my trust; I will not fear” (Psalm 56:3-4).
None of us knows when this global pandemic will end, but we can choose to live in faith, not fear; faith in a God who cares for us, loves us, is in control of every detail, and who will never leave us or forsake us.
With God’s help, this can be an opportunity for Christians to be a bold testimony for the Gospel as we refuse to cave in to the hysteria. During the mid-third century, Rome was caught in a deadly plague that was killing 5,000 people a day. While many fled the city, including physicians, persecuted Christians cared not only for their own dead but also for their pagan neighbors. Their selfless love caused many to see Christianity in a new light, and actually gave rise to even greater spread of the Gospel. May our neighbors and friends see what a difference the presence of the living Savior makes in us today as we live out our faith.
I would also like to ask you for prayer as we prepare to take the hope of the Gospel to eight cities across Wales, Scotland and England. We have filed legal claims with venues that canceled our contracts and are praying for a quick resolution. There are more than 2,200 churches in the U.K. who are standing with us and working to open doors for this Tour and bring the lost to hear the Gospel.
The Gospel is for everyone, because we are all sinners. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Jesus said, “I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Matthew 9:13). The Good News is that God “gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
What a privilege it is to proclaim the one monumental fact that has completely changed the course of history—the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ!
Christ, the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, came to earth for one sole purpose, to die on a rugged cross for our sins. In so doing, the Savior “destroy[ed] him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release[d] those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Hebrews 2:14-15). The sting of death for the believer has been removed—however that death may come—and the grave no longer has any victory over us. “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” (1 Corinthians 15:55).
Death for the believer is but a portal into Heaven. “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26).
I believe this with all my being, and I will proclaim that glorious message as long as God gives me breath, working while it is still day, knowing that the time will come soon when no one can work (John 9:4).
Until then, I trust we all will be fearless in the service of the Risen King, and faithful to love and obey Him with all our heart and soul. And remember in the uncertain days to come, that the Lord “has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version.
Photo: Thomas J. Petrino/©2020 BGEA