Since the Novel Corona Virus (a.k.a. COVID-19) was first reported in Wuhan, China in December of 2019, it has spread far and wide. Presently there have been 106,000 + cases reported worldwide, with 3,800 deaths in less than six months. One hundred countries have been affected to date; and in Santa Clara County there have been at least 38 cases recorded since the first case was reported on January 31st. Needless to say, the virus has a lot of people worried, and low level panic has set in. These facts should cause us to ask, as Christ’s followers, what we should do? How should we live out our faith in the day of COVID-19?
First, it is important for us to keep in mind that epidemics and pandemics have happened before and will surely happen again. Scripture tells us that pestilences and plagues will mark the latter times, before Christ returns (see Matt 24:7 NKJV; Rev 6:8; 11:6). No-one knows whether this virus is a part of that, but one thing is sure: illnesses like this are a part of living in a fallen world. Knowing this helps put this or any super virus into perspective.
Next, the spread of life threatening diseases such as the Corona Virus force us to choose how we will live in the midst of our fallen world. It forces people to face the fact that we are mortal, and that earthly life won’t last forever. This in turn will either drive us to draw close to God and set our hope on His eternal kingdom through faith in Christ, or will push us away from God and into seeking temporal solutions. Each of us will choose the road we walk. For Christ’s followers, this world in not our final; home anyway. For those who are NOT a Christian, however, perhaps the prospect of soon approaching death by virus will cause the to consider their eternal future; and if you are not a Christ follower, now might be a really good time to do serious business with God as you consider the claims of Jesus Christ. For more information about this, read the gospel according to John, and especially 1:1-18, 29-34; 3:1-21 ; 6:35; 7:37-38; 8:12; 11:17-26, 38-44; 20:30-31).
Having laid this foundation, here are some specific guidelines for Christ’s followers, for daily life in the day of the Corona virus:
In the midst of growing fear and panic over COVID-19, don’t give in to fear and don’t get caught up in the panic. Instead, take Jesus’ words to heart. He taught his disciples not to fear that which can kill the body, and that not one hair falls from our head without the Father’s knowledge (Matt 10:28-31). As Christians we have not been given the spirit of fear but of power, love and self discipline (2 Tim 1:7). As Christians we should take these truths to heart, for it is to God, the Lord, that belong deliverances form death (Psalm 68:19-20).
These scriptures and many like them encourage us to have faith in God. It is our Lord who holds our life in HIs hand. Because He does each of us will live out every day he has appointed for us, as Psalm 139:13-16. What this means is each of us is going to live until the time God has appointed for us to die, and not one day less or more. As Christ’s followers, then, let us have faith in God; and if and when we find ourselves afraid, let us seek God in prayer, laying our fears upon He who bears our burdens. He will surely allay our fear and build us up in faith.
To maintain stability during this time of the Corona virus, don’t get caught up in the rumor mill and don’t put your trust in ‘home remedies’. Home remedies will not prevent or cure COVID-19; and contrary to popular belief, mass doses of garlic will not prevent this virus nor cure it, despite garlics antibiotic properties. Instead, stay informed via our own Health Department, Medical Community and Centers for Disease Control. These agencies are providing good and reliable information about the virus and preventative measures. For recent precautionary measures go here.
As we walk by faith during this time this doesn’t mean we throw caution to the wind. Rather, we should live wisely. It is wise, for example, too:
a) Stay home if you are sick and DO NOT self diagnose. Rather, visit your doctor to determine exactly what illness you might have contracted.
b) Separate people who are sick – and stay clear of people who are sick, unless you must be close to them.
c) Follow enhanced hygiene measures. Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds or more. Alcohol based sanitizer can help in a pinch. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Cover your cough or sneeze with tissue or better yet, sneeze or cough into your elbow. Wash your hands or clean your jacket/shirt at the elbow after coughing or sneezing into it.
d) Clean frequently touched surfaces often with disinfectants.
e) If your place of employment has guidelines for you to follow, do it.
f) If you are a senior citizen, or if you have other medical conditions such as COPD, diabetes, a severely compromised immune system, or other medical issues, stay home as much as possible; and if you are a member at West Hills Community Church you can live stream our services at either 9 or 10:45 AM.
g) Opportunities may arise for some of us to easily share the gospel to our family, friends and neighbors. At times like this, people are thinking about the possibility of dying more than usual – but as Christians we have HOPE in Christ and another life – and we have PEACE if we are drawing close to God. Our peace will be noticeable as fear and panic set in due to the spread of the Corona virus. In light of this we should always be prepared to give a reason for the hope that lies within us as the result of our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. If you would like more information about how to share your faith or if you wold like simple literature to give to others which explains the faith, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can help.
Some at West Hills have wondered whether we will cancel any gatherings or not during this time. That is a fair question.Right now, we do not plan on canceling worship services or any other event, and the fellowship lunch which was scheduled for March 8 went on as normal with many in attendance. Extra precautions were taken, however, to insure as sanitary an environment as possible. Each individual and family must decide for themselves, however, which events to attend and which events to avoid; and if you or your family choose not to participate in certain gatherings or events as a cautionary measure, no-one will criticize that decision. That said, we are going to discuss responses to the virus crisis at our leadership meeting on March 9 and we will keep the congregation updated regarding what we conclude. Pray for wisdom for us, as we serve Christ in your midst.
Finally, if you or someone in your family does indeed contract this virus the other shepherd/elders and I will be there for you to pray for you and to minister to you in the same way we are available for any other illness or crisis. Pastors have ministered to the sick and the dying, whether from plagues or other diseases for two millennia. We can do no less in our day and time. It is also our hope that the whole body of Christ will support one another doing this time – even though there will be some risk involved.
Best to all of you in Christ – Pastor Mike