fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
(Isa 41:10 ESV)
How do we trust God when fear is a greater pandemic than COVID19? How does the Spirit of God’s power, love, and self-control overcome the fear of our age (Zeitgeist)? I want to give you three words of encouragement, the same words of encouragement that the company of pastors, led by John Calvin in the midst of the Black Plague, gave to those who were on their sickbeds, dying from the Black Plague!
1. Death does not have power over the Christian.
The first thing to remember is that the power of death over the Christian has been taken away. The power of death is the fear of death that the devil holds over man. The author of Hebrews says, “ 14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.” (Heb 2:14-15 ESV). Jesus’ death destroyed Satan’s power of death which is our fear over death. This is why Paul could say “To live is Christ, but to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21). And we can say the same thing. Take courage in this, that even in a worst-case scenario, like contracting COVID19, you and I have nothing to fear! The best is yet to come when the “roll is called up yonder!”
2. Remember the message of the gospel of grace: confess your sins and flee to the mercies of God
Scripture teaches that the greatest existential threat to man is not a plague, or virus, or cancer, or natural disasters, etc. The greatest existential threat is sin and its effects on humanity. At most all COVID19 can do is destroy our bodies. Jesus said don’t fear that. What should we fear? Jesus’ warning is this: “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.” (Mat 10:28 ESV). The cure for the spiritual disease of sin is the gospel. God sent his Son into the world to save us from sin and sin’s wages. Through faith in Jesus we receive mercy, righteousness, and eternal life. In order to receive this gift, we must repent of our sins and trust in Jesus where we are safe in His arms.
3. God protects, loves, cares, and watches over His people
Revelation teaches us that throughout history— i.e., between the first coming of Christ to His second coming—God sends judgments: 9 They were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed1 the name of God who had power over these plagues. They did not repent and give him glory. (Rev 16:9 ESV). The purpose of these judgments is to warn sinful man of the impending Day of the Lord. On that Day (when Jesus returns) there will be a total destruction of this “evil age.” This will be the end of human history (this present age) and the beginning of the “age to come,” of the New Heavens and Earth. What we see in Revelation is God’s patience and long suffering: His slow, incremental increasing of judgment. Each vision (seven in all) is a snapshot or picture of God’s judgments on every generation until Jesus returns for The Judgment, called the Day of the Lord! What does this mean for our world today? It means that our world is under God’s judgment, that COVID19 is God’s wakeup call (a trumpet) for sinful mankind to repent before it’s too late. Eschatologically speaking, COVID19 (like all plagues, diseases, natural disasters, etc.) is a warning! But, alas, the world (as it says in Revelation) will not repent and give God glory. The question for us, the Church, is how do we fit into all of this? Revelation was written to address that question. Revelation’s basic message is that God is in control, that the Lamb of God is victorious, that the wicked will not repent and glorify God, but will continue to curse God who has power over these plagues (including COVID1). However, in the midst of all of this we, the Church, are protected, loved, and cared by God, that God is watching over us!
Dear Christian, remember that death does not have power over you; remember the gospel of grace; and remember God is in charge; He’s protecting you, loving you, caring for you, and watching over you in the midst of this global pandemic! As the prophet Isaiah says, Fear not!