My normal blogging day is Wednesday, but this has weighed on my heart long enough, so this week, you’ll get both a Sunday and a Wednesday blog posting.
I’m not anywhere near panic mode. I have seen so many crises come and go (SARS, MERS, Ebola), and I have observed that there are those who treat them as the end of civilization and those who go on with their lives as they would on any other day. I’m closer to the latter than the former.
It’s undeniable that people are becoming ill, and a percentage of those who do so are succumbing to the illness. Washington State (my home) has, as of this writing, 642 confirmed cases with forty deaths and one confirmed recovery. The death toll, worldwide, is just shy of 6,000.
Coronaviruses are actually very common and generally mild in their symptoms. The COVID-19 strain, however, is more vicious than common strains. It merits a level of preparation and caution. This is real.
I stopped by Walmart a couple of weeks ago to pick up some supplies Alean wanted but was unable to find at the local Safeway. One of those items was a bottle of rubbing alcohol. When combined with aloe gel, rubbing alcohol makes a decent hand sanitizer. There were three bottles of rubbing alcohol still on the shelf and just as I approached to collect one, a woman grabbed all three bottles.
As she straightened up from securing the bottles from the bottom shelf, she saw me and realized that I had hoped to buy a bottle of rubbing alcohol. She smiled slightly and offered me one of the three she was holding. It was a gracious moment.
In times of crisis, we are treated to a buffet of the best and the worst of humanity. We see kind hearts actively seeking ways to be helpful, coming to the aid of those in need. In the same store, we can also witness shouting matches and physical brawls over who gets the last case of bottled water.
We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: ‘The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.’ For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. – Romans 15:1–4, NIV-1978
Few things are uglier than selfishness. It is a personal attribute that has no place in the life of a Christ-follower. Rather than trample the weak, we bear with them, building them up. That is the pattern of Jesus, our Lord and our Master.
Walking in the footsteps of Jesus, we go to extreme measures, joyously embracing severe levels of self-denial in order to carry the weak to safety. No sacrifice I make, be it food, water, toilet paper, or hand-sanitizer – none of that can measure up to the sacrifice of Christ on my behalf. That is the measuring line Paul has thrown before me. Measure yourself by that, he says.
Now I know that the LORD saves his anointed;
he will answer him from his holy heaven
with the saving might of his right hand.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. – Psalm 20:6-7, ESV
This sounds very similar to what David said when he stared down Goliath. “You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted” (1 Samuel 17:45, NASB).
I am not suggesting that we be reckless, but rather recognize that God is still on his throne, and therefore all is right with our world. Come what may, yet will we trust him. Help one another. Love your neighbor as Christ has loved you. Help rather than hoard.
I want to close with a quote from the prayer of Jehoshaphat as the Moabites, Ammonites, and Meunites were bearing down on him in battle. Jehoshaphat declared a fast and then prayed before the people of Israel. In that prayer, he spoke this astonishing line:
If disaster comes upon us, the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before you — for your name is in this house — and cry out to you in our affliction, and you will hear and save. – 2 Chronicles 20:9, ESV
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Victoriously in Christ!