The Covid-19 virus, that originated in Wuhan, China on 31 December 2019 has taken the world by storm. With over 218 000 people infected worldwide and more than 8 800 deaths recorded * , it’s no wonder the world is in a frenzy. “Coronavirus” as most people refer to it, is the topic that’s on everyone’s lips, whether you watch the news, catch up on social media, get in to grocery line conversations or listen to your mother reminding you to wash your hands.
On Sunday, President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a national state of disaster in South Africa, closing schools, setting limits on travel, prohibiting gatherings of over 100 people among other stipulations. No one remains unaffected by the fallout of what is happening around the world and in our country. Businesses and individuals around the country have already started to feel the economical impact of what is happening. Churches have needed to adjust their meetings. Families have needed to make arrangements for children at home. And the coming days will probably reveal even more changes because of this world-changing event.
The Bible teaches us that “as a man thinks in his heart, so he is” (Prov 23:7) and “Guard your heart with all diligence, because out of it flows the wellspring of life” (Prov 4:23). This is because if you really get down to it, it will not be the outward things (circumstances, finances, poverty, sickness….coronavirus…) that will determine your life, but rather the inward things. How you think and what you feel. All you say and do will flow from your head and your heart. (Matt 15:18-20)
It’s not very hard to see what the world thinks and feels when it comes to this pandemic: Panic. Worry. Fear. Control. This will always be a default reaction to the unknown, because we fear what we can not control.
I believe that as Christians we really need to be aware of our own thoughts and feelings regarding this event. What goes on inside of us, will be what comes out of our mouths when we get into conversation with others. It will also determine our actions and how we respond to the situation. Will we follow the world in spreading rumours or stories that bring fear? Will we fall into the culture of panic buying?
One of the most beautiful pictures of the book of Revelations is the Throne Room of God. The peace and serenity and worship, even while things on earth are starting to look dire. God is not thrown by Covid-19. He was not caught unaware. He is not shocked or dismayed. No. He is still in perfect control. He still reigns.
And He is able to fill our hearts with perfect peace, that does not make sense to the world, as we bring our concerns to Him.
“…in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” ~ Phil 4:6-7
“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” ~ John 16:33
Our God is a God of miracles. A God who makes the impossible possible. He is the God of Abraham, Moses, Joseph, Daniel, Mary, Peter, Paul. God is able to take a hopeless situation and turn it into something beautiful and amazing for His children.
He has a plan and a purpose and a destiny for His church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. His plan and His purposes run so much deeper than this pandemic. What the enemy means for our destruction, He is able to turn into something life-giving and beautiful. That may or may not mean that He will protect His children from getting sick. But whether we get sick or not, I believe that we are entering a time of miracles and seeing Him move in ways that we have not experienced before.
I love the words of Daniel’s friends when they are faced with the fiery furnace: “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and He will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if He does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” ~ Daniel 3:17-18
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” ~ Romans 8:28
As Christians we should be first in line to honour the authorities that God has given us. This will be an incredible testimony to the lost, with rebellion and distrust so prevalent in the world we live in. As our President has called upon us to unite in combating this virus, let us do our best to adhere to his instructions and guidelines and in doing so, honour the authority that God has placed over us.
“Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.” ~ Rom 13:1
Let us also respect one another, by practicing personal hygiene, washing our hands regularly and greeting one another with the elbow (at least for now), giving no place for germs (or offence) to spread.
The world is in a panic. People are looking everywhere for hope, solutions and something that will put their minds at ease. Let us take this opportunity to be the light that Jesus has called us to be. When that inevitable conversation pops up again; share the hope and the peace that’s within you. Comfort those who fear with the Good News of hope that we have in Jesus. Don’t let the opportunity to testify pass.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, Who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.“ ~ 2 Cor 1:3-5
As we go through this time of testing and shaking, let us shift our focus. Let us look to Jesus, who is the Prince of Peace. And as we are comforted by the peace that we receive from Him, let us look around to see who we can share it with.
* Figures according to Coronavirus Dashboard at time of writing