Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Whose Fault Is This Virus? photo: AFP/Hector Retamal

What can Christians say from a biblical perspective about the current coronavirus pandemic?
Some have cited 2 Chronicles 7:13-15 and called for a season of humbling oneself and seeking God’s face.
2 Chronicles 7:13-15 contains God’s guidance to King Solomon after the temple is dedicated. He speaks to a man who begins strong as a believer but, then, in his later years, will fall apart. Solomon is a model for the nation. God warns Solomon that when Solomon and the nation of Israel sin, their sin results in punishments such as drought, locusts, or pestilence that can be ended if the people “humble themselves, pray, seek [God’s ] face, and turn from their wicked ways.” The nation will be warned ahead of time (e.g., 1 Kings 11).
But, is that exactly the situation now? Is God punishing the whole world for its sins? If that were the case, we should have a season of punishment and repentance.
Why should a Chinese human(s) in Wulan eating infected bat meat at a live wild game market be a cause for global punishment? Rather, don’t we learn that the individual actions of a person from around the world seeking to sell and eat a tasty meal (but a harmful one) have global repercussions? All we humans are intertwined in one earth.
During Jesus’s time and Paul’s time, there were similar events where the actions of one person affected other innocent people. For example, when Pilate killed some Galileans or a builder’s poorly constructed tower fell on some nearby persons, Jesus’s first response is: those people were no more sinful than anyone else (Luke 13:1-4). When Agabus predicted a severe global famine during the reign of Emperor Claudius, no one’s sinful actions were identified as the cause (Acts 11:27-28).
Two actions were recommended:
1   1. Prepare for your own death because it can occur at any moment. Are you ready to meet your Maker and Judge (Luke 13:3, 5)?
2   2. Prepare for this forthcoming disaster by helping those affected (Acts 11:29-30).[1]
We need to find ways to help everyone be sustained at this difficult time.
How can the secular world be more compassionate than the Christian world? The government is offering low-interest loans to small businesses to sustain them. Apartment owners are being asked not to evict their non-paying renters. Even is asking its property owners to be “hospitable” and be graciously generous to its occupants.
God has allowed humans to suffer the repercussions of their own decisions. Health organizations are asking countries not to sell bats and other animals at live wild game markets because bats (and rodents and primates) are especially tolerant of viruses that can be transmitted to humans, as happened previously with the Ebola and SARS viruses.[2] Finally, now, the bats are not being sold at Wulan. However, we cannot blame only the Chinese since bats are considered a special dish throughout many countries in Asia and Africa.
Our physician told us that many medical staff are preparing their wills in case they die. We as Christians are prepared (or should be) to meet our Maker and Judge because Jesus stands in our place since we have already repented before the Living God.[3] Once we are ready, we need to pray and to act by helping those around us. We have a global pandemic, in response we need a global pan-koinonia.
Prayer and seeking God’s face are the right moves at this time, but let’s do it all together so that we can be a model to the world of God’s loving kindness and community compassion.
What is it about being a Christian that leaves you less panicky in this global pandemic?
We heard from a woman at a Japanese restaurant (before all of them were closed) that she witnessed two men fighting over toilet tissue rolls at a supermarket. They each said that they had to provide for their family and got into a fist fight. Meanwhile, one wife took one package and as she left said, I’ll see you at home!
Why don’t Christians act this way?
1    1. We can pray to the God who created us and loves us and wants the best for us.
2    2. We can be calm because we have no allusions that we are going to live on this old earth forever. God can protect us until our time to be with him has come.
      3. We are not alone. Find a church family that cares for you and can pray for you and hold you up.
4    4. We need to remember that we do not get sick by being with people. We get sick by being around sick people, so we do not have to fear everyone. If we are calm, we can use our God-given common sense and also be generous with others.
      5. Remember the reasons that you may have to thank God in the midst of this terrible time. We are blessed that:
a.   We did not go to Argentina March 13, as we had planned to teach a 2 week Bible course. We are so thankful that we learned from a Christian host the night before we were to leave that if we had gone, along with all other U.S. travelers, we would have been quarantined 2 weeks, the entire length of the class! And who wants to be quarantined in a distant hospital with other potentially sick people!
b.   Instead, we can catch up on all our writing.
c.    For now, every time we go out, it’s an adventure—we don’t know what’s been happening in our neighborhood. What businesses are closed now? What items have disappeared, and which are available on the shelves? Who has the toilet tissues and eggs this week?  We learn the latest news and some interesting insights.
In summary, we need to be concerned for each other and not treat the rest of the world as unrelated strangers.
Two additional Bible passages come to our mind: Philippians 4:6: “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” and Proverbs 6:6 “Go to the ant, you lazybones, consider its ways, and be wise.” These two passages balance each other: rely on God, but God also responds most to a praying believer who then acts with consideration for others.
Aida & Bill

[1] Please read our book Joy through the Night: Biblical Resources on Suffering (Wipf and Stock) on the 4 basic reasons for suffering. This pandemic fits under a “world of pain.”
[3] If you are not sure you are a Christian, but want to be, read Paul’s Letter to the Romans in the New Testament section of the Bible, especially chapters 10-11. For a personal response write or call our Pilgrim Church (978)712-0877. 


  1. Very insightful and Biblically centered. We all need to think Biblically, especially now. Thanks for your work. Lee

  2. thank you for your comment! We appreciate encouraging replies.