COVID 19 is not the deadliest disease in human history. But it is the only one in our lifetime that has swept the entire world up in a panic, closing schools, overwhelming hospitals, and shutting down whole economies. Whether you are a fearful person or not, this is a serious time. Even trying to look at this pandemic logically—thinking through statistical probabilities, actual death rates, and precautions taken to slow the spread—our world is in a collective state of anxiety. Will we survive? Physically, mentally, metaphorically?
As society has largely shut down, even churches have temporarily closed their doors and gone virtual to prevent the virus from spreading through large gatherings. It seems that Easter—the one Sunday a year nominal members might show up to church—may pass by almost unnoticed.
But, of all things to give up during this time, celebrating the power of the Resurrection is not one of them. We need hope and courage, and that is what the Resurrection of Jesus Christ gives us.
Just because the coronavirus has taken over the world for a time, God is not dead. Jesus is not back in the tomb. The church—the collective body of believers—has not been stomped out. Resurrection Sunday may come and go without the usual fanfare this year, but our resurrected king is very much alive and well!
In fact, in this time of sickness, death, fear, and uncertainty, we need to remember—and celebrate—the Resurrection more than ever!
The Resurrection may not stop the coronavirus from spreading, or keep people healthy, or prevent people from dying. But it DOES make a difference in our outlook, in our demeanor, and in our actions during this time of stress and uncertainty.
So how do we view COVID-19 in light of the Resurrection? Consider these truths and promises from Scripture—may you find courage and hope when our world falls apart.
Because of the Resurrection…
- We do not fear death
- We have a living hope
- We know Who holds the power
- We have access to power
- Our focus is changed
- He gives us His peace
We Do Not Fear Death
Since COVID-19 has spread its fingers across the globe, too many have died, and the casualties in Italy are staggering. But even if we live in a nation with a higher recovery rate, or we find ourselves younger and healthier than those with a statistically higher chance of dying, there is fear. Our sense of safety and security has been blown to smithereens. Like it or not, we have been collectively forced to consider our mortality.
However, as scary as COVID-19 is, what is the worst that could happen? We lose our jobs and our house is foreclosed? We catch the virus and spend a couple weeks in the hospital? Loved ones—or we ourselves—die from complications? These scenarios are serious and we don’t want to face them if we can help it. We don’t want to carelessly tempt death, but if it comes, we’ll simply see Jesus sooner than expected. And all the other things surrounding sickness and death that we worry about—the God who raised Jesus from the grave can be present in those sufferings, as well.
‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you….’Isaiah 43:1-2
Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.1 Thessalonians 4:13-14
Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.Matthew 10:28
Where, O death is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?1 Corinthians 15:55
We Have a Living Hope
Not only does the Resurrection remove our fear of death, it gives us a living hope. Right now, in the middle of this mess, we can live with hope. Hope brightens our days; it is hard for despair and depression to take hold where hope dwells. The coronavirus may have put our lives on hold, but we still have access to that abundant life spoken of by Jesus. We can live fully—full of joy, fully at peace—whether home alone or with our families.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.John 10:10
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade….1 Peter 1:3
Read more about this living hope in Promises for Those Who Suffer.
We Know Who Holds the Power
While sobering facts and statistics can fuel fear, I believe some of our fear arises from our feelings of powerlessness to protect ourselves or those we love. Whatever we trusted in before this virus—our government, a strong economy, scientific advances, modern medicine—none of it has withstood the onslaught of this invisible enemy. When our world suddenly falls apart, any vestige of the power we imagined we possessed is stripped completely away.
While economies may be strong and medicine may be powerful, they have their limits. Ultimate power is in the hand of God. If we are on God’s side, we recognize that governments and societies only have the knowledge and power they possess because God has allowed them to have it. Ultimately, He is in control, and we can rest in that.
We are saved, not by human intellect or earthly powers, but…
…by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.1 Peter 3:21-22
‘O LORD, God of our fathers, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you.’2 Chronicles 20:6
We Have Access to Power
Not only do we know the God of power; in Christ, we have access to that power. We may not have power to do as we like (like wipe this coronavirus off the face of the earth at the snap of our fingers). But we have power to stand firm in our faith. We have power to suffer gracefully. We have power to testify about the resurrection that gives hope to all who will believe.
I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.Philippians 3:10
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.2 Timothy 1:7
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.Ephesians 6:10, 13
Our Focus is Changed
If the Resurrection is true, then we know our physical life is not the end—nor is it the ultimate fulfillment.
- Instead of worrying about catching the coronavirus, we evaluate our lives to make sure our souls are ready to meet God.
- Instead of fearing death, we look with concern upon the thousands dying without knowing Jesus.
- Instead of praying only for safety, we pray for God to fulfill his purposes in the world and draw many to Himself.
- Instead of hoarding toilet paper and hand sanitizer, fill up our hearts and minds with Scriptures and songs that give encouragement and hope.
- Instead of grumbling at the shortage of toilet paper or basic staples on grocery store shelves, we rejoice that God has given us this opportunity to practice contentment.
- Instead of mourning the loss of favorite activities, social events, and freedom to travel, we thank God for this time to slow down, be still, and appreciate what we have.
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on thing above, not on earthly things.Colossians 3:1-2
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.Ephesians 5:15-16
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.Ephesians 6:12
He Gives Us His Peace
Anxiety and fear threaten to overwhelm us as the number of sick and dying increase exponentially. Especially as the virus creeps closer and closer to home, affecting those in our own circles. Yet because we know that physical death is not the end, because Jesus holds power over death, and because we have confidence in the object of our faith, we can be at peace. (For more confidence in the resurrection, see this short video by Lee Strobel.)
Jesus promised his followers,
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.John 14:27
…God has said, ‘Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.’ So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid….Hebrews 13:5-6
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:6-7
In the End
We don’t know how—or when—this pandemic will end. We may lose much. Whether in subtle ways or significant, life as we knew it has been altered forever. But COVID-19 does not have the final word. One day, evil will be destroyed, death will be defeated, and sickness will bother us no more. Our God reigns!