Coronavirus – What should be a Christians response?
What should a Christian do in times of great crisis like this? Well, we all can take a leaf from Apostle Paul’s book on how he handled a great crisis when he came face to face with death. This incident is recorded in the book of Acts 27 when Paul was taken to Rome as a prisoner in a ship. Before the journey started Paul warned everyone that this was going to be a disastrous journey. “Men, I can see that our voyage is going to be disastrous and bring great loss to ship and cargo, and to our own lives also.” But no one heeded Paul’s advice and they set sail only to get caught in the middle of a fiery storm. The bible says, “The ship was caught by the storm and could not head into the wind; so we gave way to it and were driven along.”. They gave way to it and were driven along by this storm! It is a dangerous situation when no one is in control of a ship. This is very much the situation with the world right now. We are being “driven along” with no measures to control this pandemic. Luke records, “When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved.” We are in a crisis where we could not see any ray of hope and sunshine. So how do we respond if we are in the middle of such crisis?
- Paul was not shaken
Paul was the only person who was very cool, calm and collected in that ship. The bible says, “After they had gone a long time without food, Paul stood up before them and said:
“Men, you should have taken my advice not to sail from Crete; then you would have spared yourselves this damage and loss. But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. “.
There is a reason why the bible specifically says “Paul stood up”. I imagined Paul must have been sitting and patiently watching the panic and vain efforts of everyone running here and there to save themselves. When they all got tired and finally gave up, Paul stood up! As a body of Christ, let us not panic but let us stand up with boldness and encourage others those who have given up hope.
- We are all in this together
Paul was disappointed that the crew didn’t heed his warning. But he never condemned and abandoned them. He never preached vengeance and the wrath of God. He never asked God to protect him alone just like God protected the Israelites from Pharaoh. Paul knew that we are all in this together! If the ship sinks we sink too. I have come across many social media posts comparing this to the plagues of Egypt and that God will protect the Christians. It is true that God protects his children from harms and dangers. But God will not always prevent his children going through a fiery furnace. Sometimes he will let us go through a fiery furnace and walk with us. But either way God’s presence among us during such crisis is guaranteed. I know of many great christians who are serving the Lord got infected by Coronavirus and came out unscathed. So let us pray for protection for everyone for those who haven’t got it and for those who got it that we will overcome this crisis unscathed.
- We have a purpose and our job is not done
“But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. 23 Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me 24 and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’ 25 So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me. “
Paul was not afraid because he knew his job in this earth was not done and he has a God given purpose which was still unfinished. As a body of Christ that is how we need to look at this crisis and be encouraged. The church’s purpose in this world is not complete and we have a big mission ahead. In fact, our mission will get more serious and bigger after this crisis. So let us be encouraged that this crisis will not be an end as God has a purpose for all of us. Saul tried to kill David several times and he came very close to death. But God did not hand him over to Saul because God had a purpose for David. Many people tried to kill Jesus before he went to the cross. But they couldn’t touch Jesus because his purpose was not finished at that time. Once some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him,
“Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.” He replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will keep on driving out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’ In any case, I must press on today and tomorrow and the next day—for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!
Isn’t it amazing that the Lord himself taught us that we don’t have to be afraid as long as we know we have an unfinished business in this world? Do you know what is God’s purpose for your life? If not, this is the right time to find it out. Once you find your purpose, you can be assured that neither Coronavirus nor any future crisis will touch you until your purpose is completed. So let us stop being fearful as we all have unfinished business in our Lord’s kingdom.
- Take practical steps
“Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island.”
Paul was very practical and he never said let us pray and sit and wait for a miracle. It is true that God can do miracles when we pray and wait for him. But sometimes we need to be sensible and take practical steps. I have heard of some Christians defying the governments instructions and holding church services. Let us stand with our government and health workers and help them to “run aground this sinking ship on some island”. Let us take whatever practical steps are required to somehow reach the shore.
- Get ready to take a plunge if required
“He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and get to land. The rest were to get there on planks or on other pieces of the ship. In this way everyone reached land safely.”
God never promised a smooth sailing; just a safe landing! Sometimes our ship will be hit hard. Sometimes we need to take that dive into the water and swim desperately to the shore. I imagined Paul holding on to a broken piece of a ship/a plank in that dark and cold night saying, “I am here in this cold sea and I am not sure what will happen next but I hold onto one sure-thing in this world. It is the word of God. I have faith in God it will happen just as he told me.”
You may be in a shipwreck and your ship may have been broken to pieces. May be you have no hope for a future. All that you need is to find that plank! That plank is Jesus, God’s word! You need to hold on to that plank, tightly and say, “I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me.” No matter what happens in this journey don’t worry that we will all reach the shore safely. Until then let us hold on to the Word of God!