As we continue to shelter in place, how are we Christians to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic? Do we respond in fear or in panic?
Fear while you SIP
Fear is usually an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat. It also is an emotion gifted to us in order to protect us from danger and harm. It is good when it accomplishes this purpose.
COVID-19 is something that we have reason to fear—for ourselves, for our families, and for our friends. It threatens to impact the health and the very life of individuals. As the numbers affected by this disease continue to rise, it could also impact the future existence of our communities and cities. But is COVID-19 something that should cause us to panic?
Panic with social distancing
Panic is the sudden uncontrollable fear or anxiety, often causing wildly unthinking behavior. Left unresolved, it can lead to serious physical side effects such as panic disorder. This type of fear serves no good purpose to those experiencing it.
COVID-19 has, in many instances, caused us to panic—as seen in the stampede to buy and horde toilet paper, rubber gloves, and facial masks. Unsure of the future, investors panic—quickly selling off their once valuable portfolios as the once bullish market falls to record lows. While panic may be the common response to circumstances we feel are out of our control, it is doubtful that it is the best response.
The Best Response while you shelter
I’d like to use wisdom drawn from the chronicles of the nation of Judah and its King Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 20:1-4, 12, NKJ) to illustrate the “best response” to fear.
It happened after this that the people of Moab with the people of Ammon, and others with them besides the Ammonites, came to battle against Jehoshaphat. Then some came and told Jehoshaphat, saying, “A great multitude is coming against you from beyond the sea, from Syria; and they are in Hazazon Tamar” (which is En Gedi). And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. So Judah gathered together to ask help from the LORD; and from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the LORD.
“…For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.”
Jehoshaphat feared. Much like us during this pandemic, Jehoshaphat had no solution nor could He offer any protection for his people—at least not in the physical realm. Jehoshaphat immediately set Himself to seek the LORD—Jehovah, the God of his Father, the God of heaven who rules over all kingdoms (2 Chron. 20:6).
The Geneva Bible Notes communicates what 2 Chron. 20:3 can teach believers about fear during this time of COVID -19.
This verse declares that fear for the godly is that which pricks and stirs them to prayer and to depend on the Lord, while it moves the wicked either to seek after worldly means and policies or else to fall into despair.
The Ultimate Solution
While fear is designed to protect us from those things which may harm us, fear for Christians should serve as stimuli for prayer and for dependence on God. God is the primary source of our strength and confidence in the time of trouble (Prov. 18:10). God alone holds the Ultimate Solution for the COVID-19 threat.
As Jehoshaphat prayed, he demonstrated a humble spirit and acknowledged the limitation that every “created beings” must confess—we cannot solve our problems without the intervention of God. We like Jehoshaphat, must first humble ourselves and acknowledge that the COVID-19 pandemic exceeds our intellectual capacity, our financial resources, and our political influence. We need God’s intervention.
God’s response to Jehoshaphat was instructive and “crystal clear” (2 Chronicles 20: 15, 17-18).
Thus saith the LORD unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s. Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the LORD with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them: for the LORD will be with you.
And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground: and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell before the LORD, worshipping the LORD.
Jehoshaphat and his people were not to fear because “the battle was God’s”. God would be the one to deliver them from the danger they faced. Their belief was witnessed by their praise of God before the battle was ever fought. They were sure that God would do what He said He would do. They trusted and believed that God, not only COULD deliver them but that God would deliver them. Are we as believers ready to praise God now for the victory over COVID-19?
Jehoshaphat and his people were to only “take their position, stand still, and see the victory of the LORD on their behalf” (verse 17, RSV). God promised that He would be with them. Jehoshaphat and his people would trust God and place their confidence on one thing—God’s presence.
Do you believe?
Do you believe that God will deliver us from the COVID-19 pandemic? God stand ready today to be our Deliverer. God’s presence is with us and He will never leave us (Matt. 28:20). In addition, even in the midst of this threat we have Jesus’ peace—not as the world gives—but a peace that will sustain us and strengthen us for whatever lies ahead (John 14:27; Phil. 4:6-7).
I know many of us want this pandemic to end so that we can return to “normalcy”. This is our desire and a typical response to fear and pain. However, now is a good time to ask, “What is God’s desire for me during and after COVID-19?” This same question can be asked of this nation, our communities, and our churches? What “position are we to take” as we prepare to see the victory of the LORD manifested during this pandemic? AND what does “victory” look like? A bustling economy or saved souls? The return to spectator sports or the revival of family worship? Partisan politics or a united country?
What’s Your Response to COVID-19?
What is your response to COVID-19? Where will you focus your eyes? On man’s restricted resources or God’s infinite power, unlimited grace, and enduring mercy (Exod. 15:11).
Yes, we need a solution—we need support for those on the frontline battling for our lives. But more than anything, we need God’s intervention and God’s strength for the days ahead. With God as our Protector and Provider, we have no need to panic. “Fear not, nor be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them: for the LORD will be with you.”