As I write this article there are 34 states in America that have tested positive for the coronavirus. As Christians what are we to do? Stockpile toilet paper, water, masks, dried goods and isolate ourselves from society out of fear? What’s amazing is that Jesus predicted behavior such as this during His time. Matthew 24:4 states, “Watch out that no one deceives you.” Matthew 24:6-8 declares, “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains. All these are the beginning of sorrows.” We know as Christians that the world will worsen before Jesus returns. Yet should we fear for our lives?
I take comfort in knowing that in Job 14:5 God tells us, “A man’s days are numbered. You know the number of his months. He cannot live longer than the time You have set.” No matter what circumstances are surrounding us, no matter what epidemic, famine or war, we do not sift through Jesus’ hands unexpectedly. Jesus knows our last days, regardless of the circumstances or chaos surrounding our lives.
As we travel down the path of life, left to our own devices, sin can become encompassing and Jesus also prophesied this behavior thousands of years ago. 2 Timothy 3:1-5, “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable. Slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying it’s power.” So again I ask what are we to do as Christians that follow Jesus Christ. We are surrounded on all sides with sin and doom.
Isaiah 43:1 tells us, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine.” Jesus knows the future, and we as Americans are not guaranteed an earthly life that is free from pain or trouble. But Jesus tell us in John 16:33 that He has overcome “these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
As Christians what are we to do in the face of fear? Isolation is trending. The cruise ship industry is suffering, air travel has plummeted and international travel has been halted by the government in too many high risk areas abroad. I feel as never before that we must have an urgency for the Gospel. During crisis times, when people feel susceptible to death and must face their own immortality, they are often extremely open to hearing the Gospel as it exudes living hope. One of Jesus’ last commands on earth to believers was the Great Commission from Matthew 28:19-20. “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” If we cling to the hope of Jesus Christ, surly we should feel propelled to tell others the good news. We know of a lifeline, and even though the scare of the coronavirus will pass, will we keep the urgency to spread the gospel? Matthew 24:44 states, “Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” Again Jesus tells us in Matthew 25:13, “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.” No one here on earth can predict the end of their lives, or the limitations of sickness. The one true fact is that Jesus is our hope, our salvation, and He promises to remain true and give us peace in times of trouble. Do we have the compassion Jesus displayed throughout the New Testament to share such peace. Be brave. Be courageous, and do not fear. Go next door and tell your neighbor about Jesus as we never know the time or place Jesus will choose to bring us home to heaven.
Emphases added by author