4 Unexpected Lessons from COVID-19

What should we learn from Covid-19?

In February, COVID-19 was little more than click bait to me. A blinking ad shouted, “Check out the eerie empty streets of China…” Curiosity won out and I clicked.

Huh. What’s this all about? This seems borderline apocalyptic; the whole city is empty. Then I promptly dismissed the issue from my mind. China’s a world away after all and that really has nothing to do with me. I’ve got a job to do, a family to take care of, so my emotional energy is already allocated, leaving no time to worry about foreign affairs.

Passion for the Nations?

1.) The Source of Love

A month before this video you could have asked me, “Do you care about sharing the Gospel with China?” You would have received an emphatic reply from me, “Yes! Of course!” I would have quoted this Bible verse to you:

Matthew 24:14 (ESV)

And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

The ability to quote the proper Bible verse about evangelism doesn’t change the reality of my heart. My disinterest in the well being of Chinese residents revealed a disturbing reality. I didn’t really love the people of China.

I’m not sure if there is a specific barrier that stifles my love for our Chinese neighbors. Simply put I’m a self-absorbed sinner. I would love to imagine that I am overflowing with love, but this outbreak has reminded me of my constant need for God to fill my heart with love.

Romans 5:5- 8 (ESV)

Hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.  For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—  but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

This might surprise some people but we don’t have any love to offer people without God. We can’t dig deep within or find our humanity. We’re all desperate sinners. God is the only source of love.

1 John 4:8 (ESV)

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

2.) Patriotism on Steroids

It could also be that a steady diet of patriotism has led me to believe that the only nation God cares about is America.

We can learn a lot from Jonah on the subject of national pride. Jonah is more than a well-known account of a man swallowed by a great fish. It provides a glimpse into what happens when you limit God’s love for the world.

God sent Jonah to Nineveh with a warning to repent or be destroyed. There’s one problem with this plan. In Jonah’s mind Nineveh is a huge threat to the well-being of Israel. Historically, Nineveh was known as one of the most brutal cultures to ever exist, skinning their victims and displaying the dead bodies on stakes as a display of their dominance. These were vicious people. Jonah couldn’t understand how God would want to help the enemy of His chosen people.

In a similar fashion I think we can get caught up in viewing China, Russia, and Iraq as enemies to God’s favorite country – America. When this belief is adopted, I think it hinders our ability to love our global neighbors. Let’s remember that God is interested in the salvation of the entire globe.

John 3:16-18 (ESV)

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 

italics added for emphasis

The Air is Rank with Fear

College basketball’s March Madness…cancelled.

The remainder of the NBA season…cancelled.

This clip from LOTR sums up the general vibe of America as COVID-19 interrupts our pattern of life.

3.) Trusting the Shepherd

I don’t want to admit it, but that gnarly Orc is talking about me. I’m afraid. Uncertainty is great fertilizer for growing panic among people.

Is COVID-19 basically the flu? Or will it turn us into zombies? Something in between? I really don’t know…

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention upwards of 20,000 people die from the flu yearly and it doesn’t alarm us or incite panic. Is this news coverage of COVID-19 media induced hysteria? Perhaps the Orc works for Fox News or CNN, and is giddy at the thought of a story that will boost ratings.

Whatever COVID-19 is isn’t really the point. Our fears are unmasked when we have to wrestle with the thought of death. That’s distressing.

What if my kids get sick? It’s too horrific to imagine for most parents. Thankfully, reports say that children under 18 are actually very resistant to COVID-19. Praise God!

Even if children are safe from COVID-19, a deep fear has been shoved in my face and it makes me uncomfortable but it’s a valuable lesson. I don’t trust God with my children.

My attention bounces to my parents and the elderly. My church congregation is older, 49% of our members are 50 years old or older. If this virus hits our church or my parents’ church it could kill them. I don’t trust God with my parents or elders at church either.

I would like to pretend that I trust God with my life, or the life of my beautiful wife, but the truth is we’re young and healthy. My lack of fear has nothing to do with trusting in God, I trust the vigor that my wife and I possess.

Consumed by fear I’ve forgotten that God is sovereign. We belong to Him.

Psalm 100:3 (ESV)

Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

For good measure here’s another verse to communicate God’s control over life and death.

Romans 14:8 (ESV)

For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.

God is the good Shepherd and He takes care of us.

4.) Undervaluing Eternal Life

But people are dead. More are likely to die from the COVID-19 pandemic. How can a good God allow death? I’ve written about that before: click here to read more.

The Bible says we have victory over death by faith in the work of Christ. What’s all this talk of death losing it’s sting?

Victory over death doesn’t mean that we don’t die. Victory over death means that we don’t stay in the grave when we die with faith in Christ.

John 11:25-26 (ESV)

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.  Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,  and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.

We’re also prone to ignore the wonder and majesty of eternity in the presence of Christ. Heaven is better, yet we cling to this fallen world.

Philippians 1:21-24 (ESV)

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.  If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.  But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.

Conclusion

Jesus is our Savior. He saves us from radical self-absorbed living and fills us with love for our neighbor. Christ provides eternal hope that even death can’t extinguish. By faith in Christ’s resurrection we can be certain that the grave won’t hold us either. Whether we fear for loved ones or our own skin, Jesus is the Good Shepherd we can trust.

I’m thankful that God has unveiled my frailty, fear, and unbelief. He’s invited me to trust Him during this season of uncertainty. I invite you to trust Jesus too.

36 thoughts on “4 Unexpected Lessons from COVID-19

  1. I really, really enjoyed your honest sharing here. I’m having to trust God in a new way with my daughter, who is stuck in another city right now without her thyroid supplement because all flights have been cancelled here. This circumstance definitely is inviting us all into deeper trust!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. It unpopular in today’s prosperity “gospel’ society but God can use hardship to grab people’s attention. I know this coronavirus has already been used by God in my life to shuffle my priorities or focus to be on God, may it do so in others too.

      Thank you for reading and commenting!

      Like

  2. Good Post. Perhaps the empty grocery shelves reveal more than just erring on the side of caution. But how empty our lives are of faith in God as opposed to having so much faith in our money, intellect and technology. God is our only hope. Do we really trust Him? I Think this is a time to learn to trust God with everything concerning our lives. And instead of feeding ourselves with fear—feed ourselves with faith. Blessings and Peace.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. Wow, The candor of this post! Your words mirrored my own fears concerning the virus. I love that you brought attention to false faith. I’m not concerned about getting the virus (rather surviving it if I were to get it) either but it’s not because I have faith it’s because I’m healthy. However I am concerned about my dad who has COPD getting the virus and it possibly killing him. Thank you for sharing this truth and for bringing to light the fact that God is the Good Shepherd and that no matter what our circumstances are we can trust in him. When we are in him it doesn’t matter if we live or die because Christ has already overcome the grave. Such a great post! Totally sharing! Thank you!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Yep. OF course I love _____ people. But there certainly is no evidence of it. Thanks for the good words. You did break some social distancing rules when you stepped on my toes. But I guess it is the Spirit who convicts. Be blessed.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for stopping by Denny. Glad to hear the post challenged you and I hope you were encouraged as well. May God bless you! The Spirit convicts and is so faithful to work in us where we lack.

      Like

  5. Great Post! We are all sinners saved by GRACE = God’s Righteousness At Christ’s Expense. Praise God for Jesus Christ and His love for humanity. In Him all things begin and end. This is truly an hour where we as children of God really need to reflect on where we are as you gave us a reflective look in this post. Blessings and Peace..

    Liked by 2 people

  6. @sullivanspin: you created something that’s so vivid and impactful. beautiful narration of the word and references that are perfect to the T. This is a time for us all to raise our level of faith, trust and dependence on God Almighty. To draw near to Him and He will draw Near to us. Thank you for drawing us closer sullivanspin. thank you indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

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