by Pastor Mark A. Sage
Truth will always prevail. Unfortunately, in the short-term, it does not. It is trampled by things like hysteria; fear mongering; politicization; and sensationalism of the media. Truth is the casualty in these things. So, as mature citizens and especially as many who read this are like me, a Believer – we must be careful who we listen to and how we process the information.
A couple of important exhortations: Quit looking to social media and the twenty-four-hour news cycle to get your information. We would be wise to abstain from it and find other sources to receive information. Much of the mania people are going through is a result of the media input they constantly receive. That same media makes a living getting you to watch or listen to them. When there is any crisis, they want to take advantage of that crisis to get people looking to them for continued information, thus increasing the anxiety of the public.
If people would carefully look at the statistics concerning the virus, they would realize that our level of anxiety is not warranted. According to a NY Times article from March 13th,[i] in the United States there have been around 42 deaths, 31 of which were in Washington state at least 13 were from a single nursing home. In Ohio there have been 5 confirmed cases, while Indiana & Kentucky have had a combined number of 23. There have been no deaths attributed the virus anywhere near the tri-state area. In comparison to these statistics from the CDC[ii], realize that 37,000 die a year from just falling; over 40,000 die in traffic accidents; 65,000 die from accidental poisoning; and 55,000 die from the flu or pneumonia. None of these risks keep us home, why should the Coronavirus be any different. This is just the plain truth. The Coronavirus could cause many more deaths in the future – but it will have to increase well over 1000 times to come close to the threat of influenza – and we do not live in constant fear of the flu.
So, a couple of important statements. Is the Coronavirus a threat? – yes. Is it deadly? – for around 2 percent of those who contract it – it is, especially amongst the elderly above 80 years old. Should we take precautions to inhibit it spreading? Of course. I think our government is wise to seek to slow the spread of the virus through temporary suspension of large gatherings lest our healthcare system become overwhelmed. Should churches take precautions? Yes, our church (Maineville Baptist Church) will change things up for a month or more (as needed) to help delay transmission. We will eliminate the “meet and greet” time at our church and use the “giving box” system that was already in place to receive offerings rather than pass the plates. We will also seek to refrain from hand shaking for a month. We’ve installed extra hand sanitizing station around the church (we had four before and will increase to six). We are mainly doing this to prevent the potential spread and to be protective of our elderly.
The truth is that despite any virus, our lives need to go on. We need to continue investing in other people’s lives; caring for our families; providing for our loved ones; continue going to the store (without hording), attending the worship services of our local church; and being involved in the community. Wash your hands more often, carry hand sanitizer, be careful of touching handrails unless you need its aid and then sanitize again – but we must go on.
The Bible teaches us to be wise, sober, and cautious when it comes to any threat. It also tells where we need to keep our focus. Notice the Scriptures in the following two verses: Proverbs 21:31 The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety is of the LORD. Psalm 20:7 Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God. These verses do not prohibit preparation and caution, but it does teach that our trust should still remain in God for our safety, preservation, and sustenance. We do not need to horde goods, we do not need to panic because of threats, instead – we need to remain focused on the Lord and the needs of others rather than our own and always keep focusing on truth. Truth that is found in God’s Word and the truth about the threat of Coronavirus as something that should be prepared for, but it should not change the way we live our lives.