Fear. Panic. Frustration. Anxiety. Anger.
These are just a few of the emotions that many of us and those around us are experiencing in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. As I’ve been praying and thinking about this, there are three things I feel that God has reminded me of during this pandemic.
1. Our emotions are real.
Often we are encouraged to ignore or dismiss our negative emotions. However, we should learn how to wrestle with our negative thoughts and emotions in a healthy way. Our emotions are real, and these are unprecedented times. In Scripture, we see God and Jesus display anger toward unrighteousness, sin and evil. The world we live in is one that is stained and marred by sin and brokenness as a result of the fall. Sin has affected our entire cosmos. As believers, we can be angry at death, destruction, sickness and even this disease because we know this is not how our world is supposed to be.
Every emotion isn’t necessarily wrong or sinful (Ephesians 4:26, Romans 12:15). In times like these, let us remember to bring our emotions and thoughts before the Lord in prayer. In 1 Peter 5:7, Scripture instructs us to cast all our anxieties and cares upon the Lord, because He cares for us. As we take our own cares and concerns before the Lord, we also have a strategic opportunity to pray for and with those around us who don’t follow Jesus. Seeing how you deal with your thoughts and emotions can be a powerful testimony to others.
2. This world is not our home.
Times like these should remind us that, as believers, we are exiles in this world (1 Peter 2:11). This earth as we know it is not our home. It’s not our final destination. Christ is preparing a place for us that will not decay and is free from disease and suffering (Revelation 21:4). This is great news for us who believe in Christ. Yet many people don’t have the hope in Christ that we have, and we are charged with being agents of hope. This truth should compel us to speak up when our neighbor is gripped with fear. When our friends or relatives are panicking, take a moment to pray and share the hope that lies within (1 Peter 3:15). We have a great message of hope that the world needs to hear. We should see this time as one where gospel proclamation can advance the kingdom of God.
3. This should be a wake-up call.
God could be using the coronavirus pandemic to wake up two groups of people — His church and the lost.
For the church, could this be a call to wake up from a lackadaisical slumber to pursue holiness and return to a Great Commission mindset? God has a way of getting the church’s attention in order to return to His mission. Pray that the Holy Spirit would rekindle a deep conviction and passion in the church to share the gospel.
God could also be using COVID-19 as a wake-up call for the lost as well. In the Book of Jeremiah, we see the prophet imploring people to repent and turn back to God because they had forsaken Him and wandered into idolatry (Jeremiah 2:13). Destruction and famine came as a result of the people’s ongoing disobedience. God was getting their attention. Could God be saying to the lost in these days, repent and put your trust in Me?
In this crisis, we have a great opportunity to see the gospel advance. We know that God uses all things to bring about His purposes. The coronavirus could be God’s way of getting everyone’s attention — both believers and non-believers. May we examine our hearts and respond appropriately in repentance, faith, gospel proclamation and loving our neighbor well.