Four Ways the Coronavirus Should Reshape our Thinking
“Oh no… here we go Coronavirus!”—said valiantly my six-year-old, Santiago, when we got out of our car a few weeks ago. We were on our way to the store as the first case of Coronavirus was reported to Mexican authorities. The country was now part of the craziness, fear, and desperation that the rest of the world was and still is experiencing. We now have to cope with a pandemic that is demonstrating that people do worry about their lives—for all the talk about nothingness after death—people don’t feel ready to go to “nothing.” Humanity wants to live, and to live well. Humanity wants stability, assurance, security, and calmness. All this agitation and tense news cycle causes so much noise to a mind that is seemingly not designed for so much dreadfulness and distress. Shoppers are buying out of panic, schools are closing, events are being canceled, and life is being put into a halt rapidly and unexpectedly. People don’t like that. They seek protection, provision, health, and life, something world governments are not being able to offer that at this moment. If governments, technology, and advanced medicine can’t offer health and protection in times like these, who can then? Government officials are being infected with the virus. Actors, politicians, and doctors are all prone to the virus like the rest of us. If they are the ones who were supposed to help us, where does our help come from then?
And yet, I believe this period of time is a great reminder of the fragility of human kind. It seems that we don’t need more doctors, more political leaders, more tests… it seems that we need a Hero, we need a Savior. This world was already broken before the recent pandemic, and afterwards it will be just as broken, or worse. People die from cancer, heart disease, diabetes, strokes, ALS, and hundreds of other illnesses. Friend, the Coronavirus is not the only pandemic, it’s just the latest one. However, don’t ever forget that since the fall, we live in a pandemic world every day!
As Christians, how should these times reshape our thinking? Here are four ways that I believe this recent virus should redirect our thoughts, so that we can be a true help to our community and neighbor.
Christians set the example
It is being said that the best way to help our neighbor during these times is to stay home and not spread the virus. That’s not true—at least not completely true. While I am relieved to hear that schools and churches are taking precautionary measures to help fight the virus, the best way to help our neighbor is by setting a Christian example of how we understand these times. As Christians, we must remain calm, tranquil, and peaceful. We do not go on panic shopping sprees. We do not spread fear and lose hope.
Our neighbor will be most helped when our lives shine brighter. Our confidence in the Lord and the sober understanding of times like these is, and has always been, the best way to deal with world tragedies. The world needs to see us unapologetically and unequivocally convinced that we are not alone—Jesus is with us. As such, we remember that our Lord said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid,” John 14:27.
Christians do not mourn like the rest
Why should we be afraid of death? Because the bottomline is that people fear death more than anything. When we hear, “get well,” it really means, “don’t die.” Humans long for immortality more than anything in this world, and even the thought that a virus can end their most treasured longing, creates fear, anger, and resentment. “How could God let this happen?,” they say angrily. But Christians do not mourn like the rest, right? Paul said it in 1 Tes. 4:13, “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.”
We must not be afraid of death—not because we are ignorant or arrogant— but because we rejoice in the victory over death through Jesus. Death is the door by which true life comes to us. Death is the portal that, while dark and obscure at first, opens up light and glory to the redeemed soul. We do not seek death, but we don’t reject it either. It is part of our humanness, and in the same way that our brain or heart is part of us, so is death.
However, we do know that death has been defeated, destroyed, and conquered by the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And while it still stings us, Jesus has majestically brought forth life. When you think about Coronavirus, you must ask yourself, what is the worst thing that this novel virus can do to me? Can it separate me from the love of God? Because nothing would be worse than that. Paul answers the question, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us,” Rom. 8:35–37.
Christians understand their broken world
Creation and creature are both broken, dysfunctionally operating day by day. Every virus, death, or fear is a reminder of the current state of humanity. We are a fallen race and with fallenness comes pain and uncertainty. This virus should not have taken us by surprise. This virus is the reflection of what happened thousands of years ago in the Garden of Eden. Humans chose death over life, and we are still tasting the bitter flavor of that decision. We take part of sin as well—it is not just Adam’s fault. But please hear me out. The Coronavirus is a two point arrow. In one level it points us to the past, where sin came into the world. But on another level, it also points us to the future, when God will recreate this very needy and faulty earth.
The New Jerusalem will descend from heaven and we will be in the Celestial City forevermore (Rev. 21). Viruses will be utterly eradicated and pain will be remembered no more. In that sense, we must remind ourselves that the call of a Christian is not to flee from this earth, but rather to conquer it. Our call is not to retreat, but to expect. The ultimate expectation of the Christian is not to go to Heaven, but rather to eagerly await for Heaven to come to earth. We are not going to Heaven, Heaven is coming to us.
So these viruses, wars, earthquakes, and hurricanes are all reminders that this earth is about to be wholly reconstructed, redesigned, improved, and eternally reigned by our Lord and Savior. We with Him, and He with us. What a joyous bliss that will be. We will become like our Lord (1 Jn. 3:2) and this earth will become His eternal kingdom.
Christians fear, but are not fearful
Even as Christians, our humanity is still very present in these corruptible bodies. When we hear of world pandemics, we fear, because we, like the rest of the world, also dislike uncertainty and disarray. And thus, as Christians we fear, but we must not be fearful. Our human condition has a tendency towards fear, but in Christ we have a new condition, a new vocation. In Christ we can become true humans once again. He made us new creatures (2 Cor. 5:17), and therefore we are capable of being humans as He intended it at the beginning (Gen. 1:26). We can trust Him, believe Him, follow Him, and though I fear, I shall not be fearful. My Savior lives and I live in Him. My Savior loves, and I am loved by Him. My response towards world fears must be to anxiously run to my Savior. I shall extend my arms for He shall hold me tight. I shall run to Him, for His perfect love will dissipate all fears. Over and over again, I will run to Him. In the darkest of days, His light will shine forth.
Josué Ortiz (MDiv. DMin.) serves as missionary to Mexico City. He is the founder of the Abundant Grace Baptist Church in Mexico City. He is a graduate of Pensacola Theological Seminary and The Master’s Seminary. He is married to Rebekah and together have three children.