Now if the title caught your attention, you may be responding in one of several ways. Maybe you are the person that could care less. Or maybe you are on the other extreme almost on the verge of panic. The unfolding news over the last several weeks of the virus has hit home and we are now experiencing incidences and even deaths in our own country. The Bible has a Word of instruction for Jesus’ followers during uncertain times like this, be wise!
I am reminded that as followers of Jesus, we are called to be wise during these times. I am old enough to have lived through a couple panics in my lifetime. The biggest one from my perspective was Y2K. I had a unique perspective as a former computer programmer. I understood the concern and could see the validity of the problem. The fear was that most legacy programs, due to limitation of computer memory only kept track of the year by the last two digits. The fear was that the electronic banking system and other industries, like utilities, that were running older programs might crash with the new year. It was during this time that I encouraged God’s people from this verse in Proverbs. “The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.” (Proverbs 22:3) The verse speaks of being cautious during times of potential danger. It is the fool that disregards the threat and suffers.
I see the Coronavirus as a situation that calls God’s people to wisdom. Our state was in the news this week for the first virus-related death in the states. There have been several more since then. We have also seen a number of instances and some possible clusters in towns in our region. If the situation in Italy and other countries is any indicator then things will get worse before they get better. So let me offer a few words of advice.
First, don’t be influenced by fear. Paul reminds Timothy of this important truth, “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7). Fear will cause you to think and act irrationally. What you need now is “self control to trust God!”Let me encourage you to get the facts.
Second, Prepare for what could happen. There are currently no cases in our county but things could change. It is wise to take measures to not get sick. It is wise not to be around people or in situations where you can become infected. It also means adopting common recommendations like washing your hands or even wearing a mask (if you have some). I know that it is a little late but there is still time to stock up on supplies like food, medicine and toiletries your family might need in a quarantine situation. Let me encourage you to stick with items that you would normally buy. Be balanced.
Third, stay in touch with others. The followers of Jesus are part of a huge family of faith. We are stronger if we work together. It is during these times that we need to be looking out for others that are more vulnerable.
Fourth, do not pass up opportunities to share the message of Jesus. The Lord often uses crisis like these to speak into individual’s lives.
It does not matter whether you think this is blown out of proportion or the end of the world. The Bible reminds us that a wise person sees danger and takes action. Let me encourage you to be wise over the days ahead.
-Pastor Joe Parkinson