By now you’ve heard of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and, depending on what you’re reading or listening to, you may be struggling with questions about how best to protect yourself and your family.
If you or someone in your life is immunocompromised or elderly or very young, the risks are higher, which makes things even more intense. Situations like these leave us wondering: Is the virus spread through the exchange of money? Or boxes from Amazon? Or the guy next to you on the bus? The person next to you just sneezed, should you stay calm and pray or spray yourself with Lysol? Do you need a mask? If you walk in the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, He will surely guide.
Everyone is responding differently and there are a number of unanswered questions, but here’s one thing you are assured of when you build your life on Jesus Christ: You are not alone, even in the rough waters of this life, the Lord promised to be with you (Isaiah 43:2) “even to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:20)
Of course, you want to do everything you can to stay healthy. Some areas have shut down schools and public meeting spaces, and President Trump has restricted travel to areas that have high infection rates.
But what about church? Should the Coronavirus stop us from going to church? The answer is not “one size fits all” because everyone has different circumstances, but here are some important things to think about when you’re considering your decision:
As Christians, there is always the faith component at work. We live differently than the world does. We have a firm foundation in Christ. We are used to operating in a world that is filled with trials, fraught with dangers, threats, and rejections. We live a life of seeing things that aren’t seen and believing things that are not yet manifest. In fact, the tragedies that sin have wrought in this world are nothing new, and we’ve all read the accounts in the Bible about standing in faith amid trials. (Eph. 6:13)
When you’re at church, you have your faith tribe with you, agreeing in prayer, taking authority over the enemy and over the fallen things in this world. There’s a supernatural power in the “two or three” gathering together! On the upside of ‘going to church together,’ we enjoy worship, exhortation, testimonies, encouragement, and, one of the most powerful aspects of prayer: The laying on of hands. (James 5:13-15)
If you’re struggling with fears surrounding coronavirus, it helps to lean on the strong faith of another Christian. If you’re grappling with thoughts about friends and family members, or biological warfare, or the government agendas, vaccine concerns and all the rest, fellow church-goers will pray with you, speak the Word, and remind you of the promises of God.
The author of Hebrews wrote, “Let us firmly hold the profession of our faith without wavering, for He who promised is faithful [and] Let us not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but let us exhort one another, especially as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:23-25) The point? The worse it gets, the more we need each other.
If you decide to go to church (and you don’t have any symptoms yourself) be safe and smart. Consider sitting a little more spread out from others. Don’t shake hands or hug for a few weeks. And don’t expect that your church has sanitized everything, because chances are, they have not. You are your own best protection so avoid touching things, wash your hands frequently, sanitize them frequently in between and bring latex gloves for extra protection if you feel safer. It sounds like a lot of hoops to jump through to get to church, doesn’t it?
But think about this: The enemy will use any tool to keep you isolated from one of your greatest sources of strength—other Christians. And if being afraid to go to church keeps you home, it’s a win for the enemy. He’d love nothing more than to you keep you oppressed and living under fear and, certainly, all the unknowns about the Coronavirus are striking fear in the hearts of many.
Are there risks and dangers if you continue going to church during the coronavirus scare? Yes. Are there risks and dangers every day in your life that come at you, which Lord has kept you safe from, risks you’ll never even know about? Yes.
A wise man (my Dad) once said: “never use faith when you should use wisdom.” It’s a powerful reminder that you have been given the right tools to make the right decisions. Some are pure faith, others will be made from the wisdom God has instilled in you through His Holy Spirit. Going out in “faith” may not be the answer if staying home in wisdom is the more appropriate decision. God has given you the ability to discern!
The point is this: If you’re sick, stay home in bed. But, while your body may be weak, your spirit can be strengthened through listening to the Word of God via an audiobook and through sermons about faith and healing and God’s faithfulness. And your soul can be refreshed and uplifted by tuning in to your own church online.
If you’re staying home from church, for any reason, you can still pray. S.D. Gordon said that “Prayer strikes the winning blow.” So, pray, in His name, for the healing of those who are ill. Pray for the protection of those who are not ill. Pray for the knowledge of those addressing the pandemic and for the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to uncover the answers to all of the questions. (John 16:13)
A fascinating phenomenon known as “intrinsic religiosity” that has been studied, pertaining to global pandemics, is the observation that people of faith don’t run away amid these tribulations when others flee. Findings have shown that those with faith in the Lord tend to operate in that faith. Why? Because we have an assurance that when we die, we will be with the Lord.
We move with compassion among the sick and dying, following the example of Jesus Christ. We have faith for miracles. We believe God wants to heal. We understand there is an enemy we have authority over. We have a perspective of life that exists beyond the natural realm.
One of the most important lessons that pandemics, epidemics, plagues, and the like can teach us is this: “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecc. 1:9)
These problems have affected mankind since Adam and Eve sinned in Eden. But in this world of trials, Jesus said, “I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation. But be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
The world needs Jesus and you know Him! Whether you feel led of the Lord to go to church or not during this upheaval, be led of the Lord—that is the point. You can get sick from anything and anyone and anywhere—or not!
Draw near to Him, seek His wisdom and guidance, stay in prayer, make decisions from a place of peace (Philippians 4:6-7). Regardless of coronavirus, move forward in your life in faith.