Thoughts in the Midst of COVID-19
What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? … Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? …
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31-32, 35, 37-39)
These are indeed strange times without any precedent in my lifetime and maybe in yours. I am no medical expert so I will not venture into those waters. Hearing a few news reports and reading a few articles posted on the web does not qualify me to hold forth. I seek reliable information from places like the CDC – knowing full well it is fluid even for them.
But I do know something about the God who has given us His Word – not so that we can know some vital or trivial info about Him, but so that we would know Him and receive the life He has for us (John 10:10; 20:31).
This is why I suggest that in such times as these we make an addendum to Romans 8. An addendum can be defined as “an item of additional material, typically omissions, added at the end of a book or other publication.” In this case I would tie this addendum into verses 35 or 38.
Now please hear me correctly. I’m not seriously suggesting we write in COVID-19 into our Bibles in terms of the normal understanding of an addendum, but that we do so mentally. The omission in this case is not one of transcription or translation, but of application.
When fear surrounds us and wants to seep down into our hearts, we can let things like COVID-19 lie outside the realm of God’s promises. We become amnesic and forget that the same God who will not let trouble or hardship, nakedness, danger or sword separate us from His love in Christ Jesus, will also not let this virus do the same.
I am not suggesting we display some false bravado in response to all of this. As followers of Christ we must use common sense and follow safe guidelines as we would for any such threat. But we need not be slave to fear and participants in panic. We have a confidence in the One who has faced the cross and conquered the grave.
Instead I will close with the words of a guy named Martin Luther. You may have heard of him. When facing the days of the Black Plague he had a few words to say. They are a worthwhile read in these strange times:
Therefore, I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine, and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance infect and pollute others, and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. IF God should wish to take me, he will surely find me and I have done what he has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me, however, I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely, as stated above. See, this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God.
From Luther’s Works, Volume 43, P. 132