I awoke this morning in Naples, Italy’s third city to have been placed on lockdown. Public gatherings, including church services, have been forbidden. Weddings, funerals, and baptisms have been canceled. Schools and cinemas, museums and gyms, have all been closed. My wife and I just returned from a grocery-shopping trip that took two hours due to long checkout lines. Italy currently has the highest reported number of coronavirus cases outside of China: 9,172 cases and 463 deaths. As a result, 60 million people have been told to remain in their homes unless absolutely necessary.
How are we, as Christians, to respond to such a crisis? Answer: with faith not fear. We are to look into the eye of the storm and ask, Lord, what are you wanting me to learn through this? How are you seeking to change me?
Here are eight things we’d all do well to learn, or relearn, from this coronavirus scare.
1. Our Fragility
This global crisis is teaching us how weak we are as human beings.
At the time of writing, 98,429 cases of coronavirus have been reported worldwide, causing 3,387 deaths. We’re trying our best to contain its spread. And, for the most part, I guess we’re confident of eventual success.
Now imagine a virus even more aggressive and contagious than coronavirus. Faced with such a threat, could we prevent our own extinction as a species? The answer is clearly no. It’s easy to forget, but humans are weak and frail.
The words of the psalmist ring true: “The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; the wind [or COVID-19] blows over it and it is gone and its place remembers it no more” (Ps. 103:15–16).
How does this lesson of our fragility hit home? Perhaps by reminding us to not take our lives on this earth for granted. “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Ps. 90:12).
2. Our Equality
This virus doesn’t respect ethnic boundaries or national borders. It’s not a Chinese virus; it’s our virus. It’s in Afghanistan, Belgium, Cambodia, Denmark, France, America—77 countries and counting have been contaminated by the coronavirus.
We’re all members of the great human family, created in the image of God (Gen. 1:17). The color of our skin, the language we speak, our accents, and our cultures count for nothing in the eyes of a contagious disease.
In the eyes of the world, we’re all different; in the eyes of the virus, we’re just the same.