Thursday, 2 April 2020


Among the various things I learnt from the viral pandemic is: Having faith does not mean we need to throw sound medical advice and common sense out of the window.  


In this viral pandemic, psalms on man’s frailty and life’s brevity shout aloud to me … not Psalm 91, unlike many other believers.

Many cling onto Psalm 91, believing that it grants believers "immunity" from a virus that afflicts all races, religions and social classes. That is just wishful thinking.

Notice that the psalm preceding Psalm 91 tells us how frail we are and how transient our life on earth is:

  • We are like the grass that flourishes in the morning but withers away in the evening (Psalm 90: 5-6)

  • Seventy years are given to us! Some even live to eighty. But even the best years are filled with pain and trouble; soon they disappear, and we fly away (Psalm 90: 10).

Second, this contagion taught me that we must not put God to the test. If we neglect measures to safeguard our health and that of others around us and cling on to Psalm 91 like a magic charm to protect us from the virus, we are being foolhardy. It is tantamount to putting God to the test in a negative way. 

This happened in the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness when Satan incited Jesus to jump down from a high point in the temple, saying the angels would support Jesus and he would not be hurt:

  • Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ ” Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’ (Matthew 4:5-7)

By the way, this account is an excellent example of how selected scriptures can be used inappropriately by false teachers and, of course, the Father of lies, Satan.

Third, this pandemic teaches me to live wisely and intentionally. Each day is a gift from God. Every breath we take is a reason for thanksgiving. As such, we should seek God’s will for our lives and then live it out: 

  • “Act like people with good sense and not like fools. These are evil times, so make every minute count. Don’t be stupid. Instead, find out what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t destroy yourself by getting drunk, but let the Spirit fill your life” (Ephesians 5:15-18)
In fact, the pandemic is a warning, a wake-up call to people everywhere of God’s impending judgment:
  • “Watch out! Don’t let your hearts be dulled by carousing and drunkenness, and by the worries of this life. Don’t let that day catch you unaware, like a trap. For that day will come upon everyone living on the earth. Keep alert at all times. And pray that you might be strong enough to escape these coming horrors and stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21: 34-36).

Fourth, the outbreak has taught me that we need a balanced, sensible approach to life. Having faith does not mean we throw sound medical advice and common sense out of the window.  

Faith need not clash with medicine/science. In fact, they are friends. Long before the study of Microbiology, scripture has already instructed man to observe sanitary measures for his well-being ... even before the discovery of germs and invention of the microscope.
  • “And make sure that you have a small shovel in your equipment. When you go out to the toilet area, use the shovel to dig a hole. Then, after you relieve yourself, bury the waste in the hole” (Deuteronomy 23:13).
This is sound advice on sanitation for God’s people if they want to avoid getting sick in the desert—the ancient equivalent of current measures to safeguard ourselves in the pandemic such as frequent hand washing and wearing masks. The underlying principle is that germs have to be isolated.

Faith teaches us not to fear but trust God. Yes, now is the time not to cower in fear. But it is also not the time to be foolhardy and neglect measures to safeguard our health like staying home, social distancing and frequent hand washing.

Apart from telling us not to fear, the apostle Paul reminded us that God has given us a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). But sometimes the line between fearlessness and foolhardiness can be razor thin.

Some believers advocate meeting as usual, not neglecting fellowship (Hebrews 10: 25). They insist there are instances when we ought to defy the law, citing Peter’s example that “we must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5: 29). In fact, some have become so outspoken about their views that they begin deriding other ‘play it safe’ believers who choose to stay home and “meet” using technology like Zoom.

Notice the example of Peter is with regards to the preaching of the Good News, which is a different context. The reason for isolation and social distancing is a sound one: Mild cases of coronavirus are responsible for many cases of transmission. So we may feel well and look well but we may be a danger to others. This accounts for cluster transmission of the virus from church gatherings. 

The eradication of the pandemic is achieved not through fiery proclamation by “prophets” who decree for it to cease in Jesus’ name but by collective efforts of individuals in every nation. In a highly-connected world where the virus can easily 'hitch a ride' from one country to anotherthanks to modern air travelthis all-inclusive approach cannot be overemphasised. If necessary, draconian measureslike heavy fines and jail termmight have to be used to temporarily curtail individual freedom in order to contain the virus.

To reiterate, in this pandemic, we must not cower in fear. But we must also not be foolhardy and neglect measures to safeguard our health. 


Is the coronavirus pandemic a manifestation of God’s wrath?

How do we distinguish between faith and foolhardiness?

In these perilous end times, how should believers live?



Is that so?

No comments:

Post a Comment