Perspective on Pandemic

The past year has seen months of poor reporting and poor governance in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. For example, news media repeatedly hyped whatever bad news they could find rather than reporting facts, questions, and developments. If models predicted a range of 80,000 to 150,000 possible deaths, the news media trumpeted the larger number and treated it as almost certain rather than as a possibility. When models proved wrong, news media jumped to the next available scary number without any explanation of why the previous news was mistaken. As case and death counts mounted, news media dwelled on the largest possible numbers and usually buried the fact that larger populations will lead to larger numbers. Better reporting would include normalized numbers to provide the rest of the story. And the pattern of poor and misleading reporting continues to this day.

Meanwhile, many of our politicians took whatever steps they could to minimize risks to their political careers, maximize personal power, and claim authority cloaked in science, even if the cloak proved to be short on factual information. Never-ending emergencies led to a broad corrosion of our constitutional rights, with a particular toll on religious groups. For some reason, the lockdowns allowed grocery stores, big-box stores, and even casinos to continue operations while they closed churches, synagogues, and mosques. Administrative bureaucrats effectively banned funerals, weddings, and worship services while excusing political meetings, demonstrations, and riots. They deemed steak and potatoes essential; spiritual food not so much. They encouraged politically correct activism but tried to prevent Christian fellowship.

In the face of this journalistic and government malfeasance, many people struggle with how to live and how to do the right thing during the Covid-19 panic. Panic? Sorry, meant to say pandemic. Amidst all the bluster, misinformation, and confusion, where can we look for guidance? As it turns out, God’s word has a lot to say about how we should live. Here are some relevant scriptures to prayerfully consider:

Protect our health

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” In strict context, this passage speaks against sexual immorality. God created and redeemed us, though, so the principle of glorifying God in our body extends to health in general. Are we taking steps to protect our health? Good! Think it is OK to blow it off? If so, then what are we each doing to the temple of the Holy Spirit?

Protect our neighbor

1 Corinthians 10:23-24 says, “’All things are lawful,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.” This passage came out of a dispute over whether it was appropriate to eat meat from sacrifices offered to pagan idols. Again, though, the principle of seeking the good of our neighbor has broad implications. Does it do any good for our neighbor, or community, if we choose to avoid vaccination for Covid-19? What about vaccinations for polio, flu, measles, or hepatitis? How does it affect our neighbor if we don’t stand up for civil rights such as freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, or freedom of religion?

Submission to government:

Romans 13:1 says, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God’” but Acts 5:29 says, “But Peter and the apostles answered, ‘We must obey God rather than men.’” Simply put, the context of the first passage involves government’s God-given role to execute justice; the second involves disobeying government that sets itself above God. However, our situation often involves shades of gray rather than clear issues of black-and-white. How do we know when government oversteps its bounds and sets itself above God, and what do we do when that happens?

Our fears vs God’s providence

In Matthew 10:26-31 Jesus says, “So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” This is perhaps the best passage to ponder if we are fearful, too bold, too timid, or maybe just don’t want to rock the boat. This passage can restore our balance.  Who is really in charge, and on what level? What does Jesus tell us to do? Make a list of His commands and promises in this passage (I count at least five) and consider how these should inform our behavior in these stressful times.

In summary, God’s guidance for us is simple and yet richly complex. Simple in that He is in charge (He is over the media, the government, and the self-styled experts), and He calls us to trust and follow Him. Richly complex in that it speaks to each of us in our own situations, and He will see us through. You can count on it!

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