“Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. 2 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: 3 Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases” (Psalm 103:1-3).
As the news concerning the Coronavirus continues to produce radical fear in the hearts of countless precious people in every nation around the world, the Church has a wonderful opportunity to minister the gospel. God has provided an amazing platform on which to stand and proclaim a message of comfort and hope, alongside of those who are braving the problems of life.
There are doctors and medical personnel pursuing a vaccine, and a cure for this deadly disease. With Marie Curie they know that “Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”
There are statesmen, such as President Donald J. Trump, who are reassuring the public that we shall win this war against an invisible enemy. During the terrifying days of the Depression, in 1933, the President of that generation said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” (Franklin D. Roosevelt).
There are hardworking individuals who are driving trucks, unloading the products delivered, and stocking the shelves, so that people who brave social contact will find food to eat, and supplies to buy.
Now if doctors and statemen, workers and managers, are willing to brave the coronavirus and engage in meaningful social interaction, why not Christians? “In such a fearful world, we need a fearless church” (C. S. Lewis).
By the grace of God, there are faithful Christians who offer to those who want to gather for comfort, encouragement, preaching, and prayer an opportunity to do so. “Seeing that a Pilot steers the ship which we sail, who will never allow us to perish even in the midst of shipwrecks, there is no reason why our minds should be overwhelmed with fear and overcome with weariness” (John Calvin).
It is not wrong for people, including Christians, to be concerned enough about the Coronavirus to self-quarantine. Leading churches across the country are electing to hold online services because of the virus, and, for the time, to forsake the assembling of themselves.
“The pews will be empty this Sunday at First Baptist Dallas, the megachurch whose pastor, Robert Jeffress, is one of President Trump’s most ardent supporters and a frequent guest on Fox News, where he espouses his evangelical, conservative, small-government views. But in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, the pastor has come around to a position that once would have been unthinkable. Following the recommendations of the United States government, and the entire public health community, First Baptist will hold worship online” (Alexander Nazaryan, Yahoo News, March 20, 2020).
Many people see the retreat of the Church from the world to be prudent, and even wise. There should be no censure or quarrelling on this point among the brethren.
Neither should there be any censure of those who long for spiritual life to be publicly manifested, for the good of their souls, and for the glory of God.
There are Christians who want to meet for worship. There are Christians who are willing to congregate to pray with others, anoint with oil the sick in the name of Jesus, and hear the Word of God expounded. They are to be commended. It is in time of war and famine, the Roman Persecution, the Black Plague, the Reformation, the French Revolution, the Spanish Flu, and the Coronavirus that faith grows, and is truly made manifest.
“So long as we are quietly at rest amid favorable and undisturbed surroundings, faith sleeps as an undeveloped sinew within us. But when we are pushed out from all these surroundings, with nothing but God to look to, then faith grows suddenly into a cable, a monarch oak, a master-principle of the life. As long as the bird lingers by the nest, it will not know the luxury of flight. As long as the trembling boy holds to the bank, or toes the bottom, he will not learn the ecstasy of battling with the ocean wave” (F. B. Meyer).
The ministry of the Church must be publicly displayed. The message of the Church must simply be told. The message is this: “Have faith in God, not Government.”
“Have faith in God when your pathway is lonely.
He sees and knows all the way you have trod,
Never alone are the least of His children
Have faith in God, have faith in God
Have faith in God, He’s on His throne.
Have faith in God, He watches ‘oer His own.
He cannot fail, He must prevail,
Have faith in God, have faith in God.
Have faith in God when your pray’rs are unanswered.
Your earnest plea He will never forget;
Wait on the Lord, trust His Word and be patient,
Have faith in God, He’ll answer yet.
Have faith in God in your pain and your sorrow.
His heart is touched with your grief and despair.
Cast all your cares and your burdens upon Him,
And leave them there, oh, leave them there.
Have faith in God tho’ all else fail about you;
Have faith in God, He provides for His own.
He cannot fail tho’ all kingdoms shall perish.
He rules He reigns upon His throne.”