How Should We Respond to a Pandemic?

We are living in strange times, are we not? Yesterday, our church wasn’t holding a service, so LeRoy and I spent the day quietly (as many of our days are spent), snuggled safely in our home, seemingly far from the clamor of the Pandemic Pandemonium, and we filled our souls with truth. A friend sent a link to their church’s online service—where it appeared that only the senior pastor and another elder were in attendance—and the rich exhortation the pastor shared from Job 42 ministered to us both. Our own pastor emailed the congregation an excellent study from Romans 1, and we enjoyed digging into that as well.

The Pandemic provided us with the opportunity to spend our Sunday in quiet study and reflection, joining online with other believers from thousands of miles away, and in other countries, to worship, sing, and study God’s Word. And it was a joy.

But, this global event has brought to light several ugly realities—certainly, the suffering of those who are impacted directly by the virus, but also the reaction to the reality of the virus has been concerning to me. At a time when believers have an unprecedented opportunity to present gospel truth and hope to a panicked world, some have actually focused their attention on political assumptions instead.

How should we be responding to this event? I certainly am no expert, but I do have some thoughts on how believers can stand as light-bearers in this dark time.

Let Your Light Shine
Remember this sweet children’s song? It isn’t just a song, it’s actually instructions from our Master: “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

There are many “good works” that believers can be doing right now. Our precious church is reaching out to members who are in isolation today brought on by concerns over the coronavirus (because of age and health conditions—including us, because of my husband’s illness), and offering to run errands and pick up groceries or do anything that those in protective isolation might need. I’m watching as many churches are reaching out to help their communities in practical ways—and I love what I’m seeing!

May the good news of the gospel spread through these helping hands. May the work and service of those who are seeking ways to reach out to those in need, those who are anxious and fearful, and those who have no idea where to turn for stability in such uncertain times, be a tangible conduit for the grace and truth of Christ.

Demonstrate the Royal Law of Love
When I finally opened my Twitter feed to check on what the rest of the world was saying about the coronavirus, I was deeply disturbed, stunned, and disappointed. It was surprising to me to see public figures, who the world could view as representing the Evangelical Christian perspective, conducting themselves in such callous and disrespectful ways. Of course, I don’t know their heart or motive, but it gave me cause for great concern.

At a time when Christians should be thinking of others, seeking to protect “the least of these”, watching for ways to serve others, demonstrating respect to others, thinking the best rather than assuming the worst, walking in wisdom and thoughtfulness—instead, through social media there are demonstrations of public arrogance, defiance against requests made by public officials and knowledgable agencies, misuse of Scripture, and generally an immature response to a real health concern—and this by those who claim to be believers, even by some pastors.

I kept wondering why. Why would believers waste this opportunity to be the light? To demonstrate the beauty of the gospel? To love others? I kept thinking about James’ exhortation to us and wondering why some believers weren’t taking his admonition: “If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well” (James 2:8).

I’m praying that the world will not view Christians as the ones who hindered the protection of their communities, or lacked humility and thoughtfulness. I pray that believers will excel in the admonition of Romans 12:10 “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”

Redeem the Time
We’ve been given a rare opportunity to stop. We have the legitimate reason to rest, to take time to read and reflect, and to literally slow down and connect deeply with those in our homes.

If you’re a mom of little ones—my heart goes out to you right now as you’re attempting to find creative ways to structure the day without having the opportunity to visit playgrounds, museums, or have play dates with friends. But, I’m hopeful that this will be a time of deep bonding among families, a time your children will look back on with memories of lots of laughter, board games, building blanket forts, enjoying home-education, with the learning and growth that flourishes in times of difficulty.

If you’re single and feel isolated, take this opportunity to dig into the Word, start a new online Bible study, connect with friends by phone that you’ve not communicated with in a while, send out a few cards to spread hope, see how you might be able to serve your neighbors, the elderly in your church family, or a mom who’s overwhelmed with childcare responsibilities right now.

As believers, we have many ways we can “redeem the time” today through personal spiritual growth and service. We will probably have to get creative with ways to do this, but let’s seek God together in how He would have us use this time for His glory. Let’s not waste it by getting into online arguments and selfish reactions.

“See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15—16)

Demonstrate that God is Worthy of our Trust
As I’ve visited on the phone with young moms this week, it’s apparent that they are grappling with fear. And maybe you are as well. There’s a lot of scary news out there right now, and some of you know that your family may have already been exposed to a virus we know very little about. This is the type of life-altering event that you might have never considered before. Let me assure you, none of this has taken God by surprise. None of this is beyond His care.

Take this opportunity to soak in the truth of who God is—He is sovereign. Think about what that means. Spend some time grappling with the beauty and wonder of chapters like: Job 42, Psalm 46, Genesis 50, Exodus 14—15, and what I call the richness of Isaiah’s forties (Isaiah chapter 40—chapter 49). Consider the fact that God is able. He is able to accomplish His purposes, and He is good in all that He does. He does not forsake His own. He is a good and kind Father, who is at work, even when we doubt that He is aware of what we’re facing.

Teach your children the verse that we shared with out little ones recently:

“When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You.” (Psalm 56:3)

Or this one:

“When the earth totters, and all its inhabitants, it is I who keep steady its pillars.” (Psalm 75:3)

How about you?

How are you responding to these days? I pray you aren’t wasting this opportunity. May the message and work of the gospel spread more quickly than the destruction of this virus.

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