Ed Stetzer on Coronavirus, Christians, and a Christ-Centered Response

Image: Photo by CDC on Unsplash

Ed Stetzer is executive director of the Billy Graham Center, serves as a dean at Wheaton College, and publishes church leadership resources through Mission Group. The Exchange team helped with this article. The views expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent those of BCNN1.

Today’s news cycle is dominated by one thing: the rise and spread of the novel coronavirus.

First reported in Wuhan, China on December 31, 2019, the virus COVID-19 has made an impact on our world, from international travel to the global markets. Coronaviruses are actually common throughout the world and generally “cause mild illness like the common cold.”[1]

However, this new strain has proven to be far more virulent, with 82,000 cases worldwide and 2,800 deaths by late February. As of February 25, 2020, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports the virus has spread to 37 locations internationally, including the United States. The CDC said this about the U.S. involvement as of February 25: “Person-to-person spread of COVID-19 also has been seen among close contacts of returned travelers from Wuhan, but at this time, this virus is NOT currently spreading in the community in the United States.”[2]

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak a “public health emergency of international concern” on January 30.[3] WHO and the World Tourist Organization (UNWTO) are working together to communicate recommendations regarding travel or trade restrictions. In sports, some have begun to wonder about the future of the Tokyo Olympics this summer.

The WHO also has a site with three main headings: When and How to Use Masks and Advice for Health Workers are two of them.[4] The third is Myth-Busters, because our information-frenzied culture is great at spreading news and terrible at filtering myth from fact.

There is talk of a possible pandemic. There is the expected blame-gaming of politicians, turning a health issue into a political football to be kicked around. Facebook, who canceled its scheduled F8 meeting because of the virus, while Facebook, Twitter, and Google have all moved to control fake coronavirus cures.

Lights in the Darkness

I’m no healthcare expert and I don’t play one on TV. But I am a minister of the gospel, and we have a place to go for any and all crises, including a health issue like this. That place is described in the word of God, which reminds us where to put our hope.

For believers, this is a good day to remember that our hope is not in what we save or even in our physical health. Neither the markets nor our current health status provides the source of our identity. Psalm 20:7 reminds us:

“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God” (Psalm 20:7).

Or, we might say,

“Some trust in our financial portfolio and some in our health status, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.”

This is critical to hold to when fear threatens to grab hold of our hearts: our God is not surprised by a viral outbreak. He is not disinterested in our fears. He is our rock, our light, and our salvation (Psalm 27:1). This might be a good time to look toward our Psalter instead of our news feed for support.

As American Christians we are accustomed to power and security. Suddenly as the possibility for reversal becomes greater, it is how we respond in times when we feel powerless and vulnerable that may offer the opportunity for growth for us and to witness to others we say we long for. Jesus told us to let our light shine in a dark world (Matthew 5:14-16), and our response in a time like this may be such a time to shine.

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Source: Christianity Today