Is the coronavirus impacting your life? Do you find yourself glued to CNN for another COVID-19 update? Have you changed your plans, rearranged your schedule or canceled an upcoming trip? Does fear of catching the virus or worry about the economic impact keep you up at night? For many, fallout from the virus has filled us with fear.
Two Types of Fear:
I firmly believe there are two kinds of fear, healthy and unhealthy. Healthy fear is a gift from God. It stops us from engaging in risky behavior, like chasing after moving locomotives or skydiving without a parachute. It reminds us to wash our hands often and to avoid large arena-type areas when facing an epidemic such as the coronavirus.
Unhealthy fear is not a gift, nor is it from God. It is an affliction from the enemy. It creates a panic such as a run on the stock market or a stampede at a rock concert. Unhealthy fears ruthlessly steal not only our joy but our hope, as well.
Our Weapon Against the Coronavirus: PRAYER
The simple fact is we are not at the mercy of this epidemic. We have a tremendous weapon in our arsenal, and it is prayer.
Consider the apostle Paul’s words to the Corinthians: “We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him, we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many” (2 Corinthians 1:8-11).
Individual and Corporate Prayer:
While God knows what we need before we ask him (Mark 6:8), He often waits for us to come to Him before He supplies our needs. Why? The answer is simple. Our heavenly Father created us to be in relationship with Him…not because He needs us, but because we need Him.
In her podcast “Prayer Warrior,” Beth Moore references the movie Miracle, a sports docudrama about the United States’ men’s hockey team, which won the gold medal in the 1980 Olympics. Ms. Moore notes that Coach Brooks asks his team the same question after every practice: “Where are you from?” And every time, the players answer by naming the colleges and universities where they played collegiate hockey.
Something changes, however, when the team is soundly and unexpectedly defeated by an opponent. Frustrated and bitterly disappointed, Coach Brooks forces his players to return to the ice, despite their exhaustion, and makes them run drills, all the while asking, “Where are you from?” Finally, one of the players answers, “We are from Team USA.”
No Separatists on God’s Team
I can’t help but believe that amid this epidemic, God is asking, “Where are you from?” He doesn’t want any separatists on His team. He’s not interested in our credentials, denominations, race or our nationalities. After all, Jesus walked among the hated Samaritans, praised the centurion’s faith, ate with the tax collector and elevated the lives of the lowly, including the aged, infirmed, women and children. He warned, “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand” (Mark 3:24).
Our world can’t afford Christians to remain silent or separated from other believers, especially as we face this epidemic. God is calling us to unite in prayer, regardless of race, denomination or socio-economic status. He is calling us to raise our voices in one accord and to ask Him to eradicate COVID-19 from the face of the earth.
Will we answer God’s call?
All creation groans. Our world has been turned upside-down by the coronavirus and the fear that heralds its arrival. No one, except You, fully understands this pathogen’s epidemiology and the extent to which it will or will not spread.
We humble ourselves and pray, seeking Your face and turning from our wicked ways. Please forgive our sin and heal our land (2 Chronicles 7:14, paraphrased). Please eradicate this disease from the face of the earth.
We pray for government leaders, ministers, school officials and others who are in positions of authority. Please give them wisdom and discernment to make prudent decisions for the common good.
We pray for our health workers—our doctors, nurses, techs and first-responders who place themselves in harm’s way to care for the sick. Please provide them resistance “from the deadly pestilence” (Psalm 91:3).
We pray for people everywhere, especially those of us who are more susceptible to the disease. Remind us that You “gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7). Let us stay informed but not afraid, vigilant but not compulsive, all the while, trusting that You are our immunity, our shelter and our shield.
In Jesus’ Name, we pray. Amen.
By Sherry Schumann, St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Summerville