The COVID-19 virus or coronavirus has prompted many cautionary measures to be enacted that has disrupted our normal pattern of living in the United States and around the world.
I certainly realize that no one should treat any dangerous situation in a careless or capricious manner.
However, as a Christian, it is imperative that we should never allow the threat of disease or anything to cause us to refocus our whole life on the threat and not on God.
I remember going to the local high school in Ruston, Louisiana, to take a shot for polio.
In the early ‘60s it had not been totaled eradicated, but all were asked to take a shot because there was still the possibility of an epidemic.
We had to receive a vaccine before we could go to school.
The vaccine definitely helped, but other measures were taken before it was available to prevent the spread.
Local swimming pools were closed. School started late. Large meetings of people were discouraged.
That was 60 years ago, and the same measures are being taken by our national and community leaders today.
Major sporting events have been canceled, large meeting has been discouraged and even churches in some areas have been asked to not gather for Sunday worship.
Over time Polio, because of all these measures, decreased and then disappeared.
The epidemic that was the measles was the same and so on and so on.
West Nile, SARS, Bird Flu, Swine Flu, Zika virus for the most part have been eradicated around the world through countless hours of research and development by research doctors and the development of a vaccine.
They are working on a vaccine for COVID-19 too, but it will come too late for some.
In the meantime, what can we do?
Pray and wash our hands.
Living in fear is contrary to the life that Jesus meant for His disciples.
In fact, John records these words of Jesus in the 14th chapter of John, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” (John 14:27)
In order for us to have that peace, we must have faith.
Our faith must be securely fixed on God and his promises.
We cannot live in harmony with God without having that faith.
We know that God is always with us in ways that halt our fears (and that conviction will carry us through this particular trial).
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10)
Many years later, the writer of the letter to the early church reminds us “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for he who comes to God must believe that he is and that he is a rewarder of those who seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)
The Apostle Paul, in one of his letters to the church in Corinth, touches on the idea that walking in faith means that we maintain our focus on the promises of God.
“Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight — we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:6-8)
For children of God to allow fear to drive our life shows that we need to examine our faith and just where we place our trust.
Each of us needs to examine how we will respond to the coronavirus COVID-19 or any other disruptive disease or event.
Certainly, we are not to invite dangerous situations into our life, but we must live a life guided by faith.
Only then will we have the peace that Jesus gives.
Or, as the writer of the James echoes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reminded us over and over, “Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands… and purify your hearts…” James 4:8
Rev. Frank Chlastak began work as senior minister of First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Poplar Bluff on Sunday, Sept. 13, 2015.