The world is still grappling with the Coronavirus pandemic (aka COVID-19). It has brought the world to a standstill and indeed to its knees. There have been various theories and speculations regarding this virus, ranging from its cause, to its cure and its cost, particularly to humans. A lot of damage has been done and is still being done all over the world. It has left the world confused, helpless, fearful and panicky. Many question, “How should we respond?” and “What should be our attitude?” As I thought about these questions, I came to the conclusion that our best response is not to panic but to pray. Pray while being mindful to heed the directions and suggestions of the medical experts such as handwashing, sanitizing, social distancing and wearing masks. Prayer and panic are two opposing aspects of living.
The Peril of Panic. Panic or overwhelming fear is the state of mind that brings unrest, worry and anxiety – it is the opposite of rest or peace. Fear is debilitating; it incapacitates us, weakens and leaves us vulnerable. It often exposes us to the very things we dread or are afraid of. Job said, “What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me. I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil” (Job 3:25). The COVID-19 pandemic is a reality; it’s with us; it has taken thousands of lives. We are concerned, and rightly so. However, how we react or respond to the situation is very important. Panic or fear should not be one of them. Jesus says that panic, worry or fear do not solve any problems (Matthew 6:25-34). Rather, we should learn to trust the Lord for peace as we face this monster, because He is ever present with His people.
Throughout the Bible the phrases “fear not,” “be not afraid” or “don’t be afraid” appear over 63 times and almost each is followed with assurance of God’s presence (e.g. Gen. 15:1). Therefore, the absence of fear or panic is peace or rest. We panic or are fearful when we focus our attention on the thing we fear and away from the Lord who is always aware of our situation and is in control. Praying for Israel during their hard time, Isaiah prays to the Lord, “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal Rock” (Isaiah 26:3-4).
The Profit of Prayer. Instead of focusing on the present predicament we are in, we ought to accept Christ’s invitation, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Now is not a time to panic but a time to pray, a time to return to the Creator of all things in prayer and praise. Writing to Timothy, Paul says that “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). No one truly knows the origin or source of this epidemic, but God knows; He is fully aware of what is going on. And one thing is certain, and that is that mankind has polluted the earth through sin, science and technology. Therefore, we need to come back to God in repentance and ask for forgiveness as the psalmist prescribes in Psalm 50. There the Lord promises, “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me” (v. 15). Our duty and calling as Christians at this time is to pray and seek the face of God – He will answer and heal our land.
The pandemic does not discriminate between believers and non-believers. It affects everyone. Our duty is to pray for comfort for the families of those who have fallen, for peace for those affected and for healing at this time. Whatever circumstances we find ourselves in, we should not panic but trust in the Lord. We are in a battle with an invisible enemy – an agent of Satan, COVID-19. This battle is more than physical; it’s spiritual. We therefore need to equip ourselves with all the spiritual armour at our disposal (Ephesians 6:10ff). Consequently, our response as Christians, is prayer and praise; the ensuing outcome is the peace of God. Just as Paul instructs the Philippians, “Don’t worry (or panic – my own words) about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (4:6-7 NLT).
As we celebrate the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus the Christ, may we be reminded of His atoning sacrifice, the greatest demonstration of love and the hope we have in Him. “For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands” (2 Corinthians 5:1ff). May this be our solace at this trying time. FOCUS ON CHRIST NOT ON COVID-19!
HAPPY EASTER TO ALL!