14 Mar 2020

Viral Grace

Submitted by John T Reagan

Soldiers sick with 1918 flu.I won’t be working for the next few weeks.  I don’t have a contracted teaching position right now and have been substitute teaching instead.  Here in Oregon they pay their substitute teachers well, but when you only work a day here and a day there it’s not exactly lucrative.  Still, it is work and I do love working with the young people.  Anyway, our governor ordered the schools closed because the Covid19 virus is presenting such a danger and, as everyone knows, the public schools serve as incubators for whatever disease is currently making the rounds.  I’m not complaining, mind you.  I can find things to fill my time (maybe you’ll see a couple extra blog posts in the next few weeks) and it’s better that I not work than that this virus be allowed to spread.  That became more of a reality to me today when we learned that Covid19 is getting close to home.  A relative who is rather important to us has been exposed to the disease.  Of course, that doesn’t automatically translate into a sick and dying relative, but it has made me sit back and set aside my nonchalant attitude.  I’m afraid that, as I’ve observed the foolish fearfulness so many people are indulging in, I’ve reacted with contempt and tended to disregard the threat.  But now someone I love is in danger and that illuminates everything with a different light.

Of course, the fearfulness and the mad buying frenzies are still foolishness.  God is our protector and our provider.  He is also our healer (Ps. 103).  He directs our lives and sets the length of our lifetime.  He not only knows the time of our passing from this life, but He is the one who has determined when that will be.  This God who, full of grace and love, initiated our lives and sustains us, is well able to deal with this nasty Covid19 virus – why should be fearful?  We can trust Him!  Indeed, it is foolishness not to trust Him.  Should we be smart, practice good hygene and join in the precautions suggested by our leaders and the medical community?  Absolutely, but remember, in the end it is God who determines the outcome.  Thus, those of us who are Christians have a great advantage over our friends who have not put their faith in God.  We have the opportunity to find peace in the midst danger and turmoil.  We can take the words of David in Psalms 91 seriously: 

“You will not fear the terror of the night, the arrow that flies by day, the plague that stalks in darkness, or the pestilence that ravages at noon (verses 5,6).” 

I especially like verse 7:

“Though a thousand fall at your side and ten thousand at your right hand, the pestilence will not reach you.” 

I think the Covid19 virus qualifies as a pestilence, don’t you?  We can trust God!  What if all of man’s efforts fail and this disease ravages its way across our land with thousands dying right beside us?  We can still trust God!  Fearfulness has no place in the life of a Christ follower.  Indeed, we have a responsibility to our neighbors and communities to be bastions of peace in this time of turmoil!  If you are a follower of Christ and you have been indulging in fearfulness then quit!  Turn off your TV with its endless blather, get on your knees and apologize to God.  Really, Christian, what is the worst that could happen?  You could die and get promoted.  For heaven’s sake, death should hold no fear for a Christian!  Get your act together, please!

Ruth and I were talking this evening about how God’s grace (His favor and good will toward us even when we don’t deserve it) is so evident during this crisis.  Why hasn’t this dread disease spread across America and become the pandemic scientist have feared ever since the 1918 flu killed millions in our land?  One simple reason – God has poured His grace out on us.  He is holding it back!  I really wonder at that because America has, in recent decades, worked overtime at throwing off our faith in Him, yet He still acts mercifully toward us.  If it was not for that grace, we would indeed be dealing with a fearsome plague ravaging our land.

Ancient Israel experienced a similar plague.  It was during King David’s reign.  Who knows, maybe it was some kind of coronavirus, but, whatever it was, thousands of Israeli’s died in a very short period of time.  You can read about it in 2 Samuel 24:11-25.  It stopped when David offered God a sacrifice and prayed, asking Him to relent.  God heard that prayer and the plague ended.  During that conversation with Ruth I realized that we all need to pray similar prayers.  Forget the sacrifice – Jesus settled that on the cross – we need to ask God to bring an end to this plague.  I am ever thankful for our medical people and how they are, with what seems like herculean effort, holding Covid19 at bay, but it is God who can bring it to an end.  I heard that President Trump called for a day of prayer on Sunday.  Well, I’m going to pray for an end to this disease, not just in America, but across the world. 

God, in your grace and mercy, we ask you to relent and end this pestilence.  We ask this in the name of Jesus.  Have mercy on us, Father.  Amen.