Quarantine is Test Time
March 18, 2020 | John Ring
These can be confusing times. The Coronavirus is the talk of the town and just about any meeting I have attended in the past few days. Try getting through a news show without some view of the virus. Just about everybody has an opinion while few have any clear method of dealing with it.
We really don’t know what to expect. Is this overblown by the news media? I have no idea. Is this something we should be prepared to deal with now and in our future? Good question. How well can one prepare for something they cannot even see? We have known for a long time that our overuse of antibiotics was going to catch up to us. We might learn a lot in the next few weeks and months.
Along with a basic understanding of the virus and the flu and disease as we know it, this can also be a time when the Christian faith is going to be tested. Do we put more trust in government or doctors than God? How careful should we be? A basic question revolves around our functional view of God more than anything. What do Christians do in serving those in need? What about at church on Sunday? If someone sneezes will we empty the pews? Will they be ostracized? What if the government puts a moratorium on meeting together? Will we cease to gather as believers to worship our Lord?
Hopefully, we will not have to answer most of these questions. As concern mounts in the Lowcountry, I will meet with the Bluffton Police Department chaplains to discuss our potential response if the virus ravages our area, especially the elderly and those with compromised respiratory systems.
As all these questions leave us paralyzed. Historically, Christians have been the ones who responded to various cities and groups of people affected by disease and plagues. There are enough historical records that show when a disease like smallpox haunted the ancient world, most people ran away from it as fast as they could. However, there was a group that ran to the infirmed instead of away from them. It was Christians. Of course, they did. Their fate was determined. As the Scriptures say, “absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” In the day when science and media had no say, faith ruled the world.
Don’t get me wrong. Christians died caring for the sick and dying. There was no guarantee they would not catch the plague. The point is they didn’t really care if they caught it. Their home was not on this earth. They knew where it lay.
When the Christians responded by caring for the inflicted, it actually propagated the faith. Candida Moss, a professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Notre Dame, notes that an “epidemic that seemed like the end of the world actually promoted the spread of Christianity.” They showed that Christ was worth dying for. They also showed that the touch of Christ in their active faith was more powerful than their words.
It has been noted that many of those who ran to recent Ebola outbreaks were Christians. These brave individuals in the name of Christ faced what we know today as one of the most deadly diseases. Did they take precautions? Sure they did. Did they go blindly into a community claiming supernatural immunity? No, of course, they didn’t. They followed the Scriptures, responding as Christ would have to those in need. Instead of waiting for government and science to fix the problem, they understood, as they did in ancient times, that man may be able to overcome sickness, but the sickness of the soul is the work of Christ. Which was more important? The sickness of the soul. Jesus said, “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” If anything, an outbreak of disease should show us that we can be the most successful people in the world and have more toys than anybody else, but God is on the throne.
Yes, we pray for man to find a treatment against such things. We pray for governments to work together for the good of mankind. But, in the end, our hope is in the Lord. We may be tested to see if we really believe it.
Thank you to guest author John Ring from johnring.wordpress.com for sharing this post with Grace Coastal Church.
What does it mean to “trust in the Lord” during our current pandemic? There are lots of opinions on this one I’m sure. To trust in the Lord to me is not to live in fear. Does that mean I will disregard the warnings and the actions we are encouraged to perform such as washing our hands more often? No, for not only are we called to not fear, we are also called to consider others. We are also called to respect authorities. If they dictate methods to stem this outbreak I don’t have to like them, but, I should respect them. Trusting in the Lord also means I am to respond to others in need much like the Good Samaritan put his life in danger to care for the beaten traveler. Basically, we care for others understanding our future destiny is not in our hands but the Lords. We do so using the brain he gave us. Test time. I hope we studied.