I would have to say that those who express doubts about the legitimacy of the “virus war” we now face are becoming fewer in number. Serious people know when something is serious. Serious people take appropriate action to mitigate the seriousness of a situation. Yet even the mature, serious people know when something is not entirely in their hands, and that they cannot control everything.
Some may descend into fear over what awaits. Psalm 55 speaks of fear in words that could be describing how some feel at this time:
My heart murmurs within me, and the terrors of death assail me.
Fear and trembling grip me, and horror has overwhelmed me.
I said, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and find rest. How far away I would flee; in the wilderness I would remain. I would hurry to my shelter, far from this raging tempest.”Psalm 55:4-8
Most of the country is now sheltered in place. Some do it out of caution, not wanting to catch the virus and spread it to others. If you live with someone whose health is already compromised, it’s only right to take strict precautions. I went to the grocery store the other day wearing one of those N95 masks for just that reason. I have to admit that I got looks from others, perhaps wondering if I were infected. Yet it was what I needed to do out of an abundance of caution.
Others shelter in place out of fear. Since this virus has a much higher mortality rate than even the worst flu, that fear is understandable. Yet Christians should keep an eternal perspective. A virus may kill the body, but it can’t touch the soul. We all will die someday of something, even if it’s just plain old wearing out. What really matters is eternity.
This virus is also causing financial fear. Those of us who have been putting away for retirement can be rightfully concerned—even distressed—when we look at what we thought we had squirreled away in a retirement account rapidly diminishing. But again, where do we find our true treasure if our hearts are right before God?
Jesus tells the parable in Luke 12 of the man who had such an abundance of earthly riches that he built bigger barns to hold it all. Our modern barns are the IRAs and other vehicles where we are storing our “riches.” The man is self-satisfied and thinks to himself that he will now enjoy life, only to be told, “You fool! This very night your life will be required of you. Then who will own what you have accumulated?”
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal,” Jesus admonishes. “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. “
Where are our hearts? Are we overly anxious about the future? We need to keep this in mind:
Hard times come to everyone. If we think we can go through this life and avoid all stresses, we are living in a fantasy. But for those who have committed their lives to Christ, there is this promise.
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.Romans 5:1-5
Here’s the challenge: are we going to rejoice no matter what, persevere in the trial, thereby developing the character He wishes to produce in us? If we do, we will know the hope that never will disappoint.