A Christian approach to the coronavirus panic

A Christian approach to the coronavirus panic

The coronavirus is big news. Every day we find out something new. We find some shocking statistic about infection rates or the number of deaths or lack of containment. Flights in and out of China are stopped. People who have recently visited China are banned from school or work for 14 days. This latest epidemic crisis is serious and seems to have some way to go yet.

On top of all of this, there is panic. Face masks and hand sanitiser are selling out, even in places with no cases of the virus. The share market is falling. People are afraid to go to public places. News websites are seeing increased hits as people are desperate to find out more about the risks and the developments. Misinformation is spread, and there is evidence of blatant racism against people who look Chinese, whether they have been to China recently or not.

How can we approach this crisis as Christians? It is so easy to get caught up in the panic and not to think. Trusting Jesus helps a great deal in times like this.

Firstly, we need to be praying. Many of us have relatives or friends in China. We should empathise that the situation in many parts of the world is far worse than it is in Australia. We should be praying that God will guide the medical staff and the infectious disease experts and that this would be resolved soon with few deaths. God can do this. Unguided anxiety is the best those who are not believers can do; we know the One whose world this is, and who is able to do all we ask.

Secondly, we need to remember what we know about ourselves and about God. We don’t know the future. We never do. The coronavirus might make the future seem terrible. But people are always keen to see the negative possibilities the future might hold, and the media fans this into flame. We are afraid of bushfires, climate change, North Korea, a share market correction; there is always something. Yes, bad things might happen, but we cannot assume they will. We who know a good God don’t need to despair. God often blesses us in unexpected ways, and we don’t know whether tomorrow will be good or bad. Don’t live assuming the worst.

Thirdly, we should remember that even if bad things happen, even death, Christians can be confident in God. We do not need to fear that someone or something can separate believers from the love of God (Romans 8). Christians in the first century were told not to fear, even if persecution from the ruling authorities led to death. We who know Jesus has paid for our sins know that one day we will be with God forever. That could be sooner, or it could be later. Whatever the case, our certain future needs to lead to confidence today.

Friends, God is still in control. Even in the face of a scary virus. Even when we don’t know if there is anything to be worried about. Face the future with confidence; there is no need to be crippled by anxiety.