The headlines are dire. “Coronavirus outbreak.” “Dow drops triggering another trading pause.” “Travel ban.” “Medical supply shortage.” “State of Emergency.” While the world’s leaders and medical experts mount a defense to this growing plague, believers can turn to eternal truths we hold in our hands. Here are a few meditations from Paul’s letter to the Philippians.
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice” (4:4). Obstacles to rejoicing have always existed. The world is no more fallen, marred by sin, and producing war, famine, and pestilences than when these words were penned. Consider instead, that we are created by God and gifted with life. We know God and experience His love, even in the midst of the worst the world can offer. We are traveling toward another place where the darkness of disease is displaced by the Light of God. “Whatever is lovely…dwell on these things” (Phil. 4:8).
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God” (4:6). We are people of prayer in good times and bad. The people of God are “a royal priesthood” (1 Pet. 2:9), so our role is to approach God on behalf of others. Here is a prayer: “Lord, this virus outbreak has not caught you unaware, as nothing is a surprise to you. You have the power to stay the advance of this disease. We ask that you deliver us from this evil. As in all things, we ask that your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
“The peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (4:7). We have no need to respond in panic, fear, or hysterics. No calamity can remove that certain peace we have in Christ Jesus. That peace enables us to move toward calamity quite willing to serve those around us, share of our possessions, and show the love of God. For our friends who do not know that peace, may God use our lives to draw them to the Shepherd and Guardian of their souls (1 Pet. 2:25).
“I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need” (4:12). In a worst case scenario, this virus has a lasting effect not only on medicine and mortality, but on jobs, personal income, and the worldwide economy. May the Lord grant us wisdom to be content in whatever circumstance we find ourselves.
My prayer for you, dear reader, is that you live out your own headline. How about, “Responding in faith, not fear”?