I believe that the fear, spread in the world today because of Corona Epidemic, is much worse than the virus itself. If the peace of God’s children is lost, among all the disturbing news of the spread of this virus throughout the world, then what would be the state of the world’s children? Therefore, let us calmly and without the hostility of social media, seek an understanding of the situation and know how to confront it in light of God’s word. With God’s grace, I would like to mention some spiritual concepts and principles to take into consideration:
First: The current Corona Epidemic is not the first, nor will it be the last epidemics or disaster we face in this world. Our Lord Jesus Christ has informed us of this when He said: “And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven” (Luke 21:11). As if the Lord is telling us today, “See, I have told you beforehand” (Matthew 24:25), “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Second: The spread of evil and disease in the world is one of the ways by which the evil kingdom attacks humanity, for the world is still under the control of the Devil. Lord Jesus said that Satan is “the ruler of this world” (John 14:30), and Saint Paul the Apostle says that he is “the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2). According to Saint John, “the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one” (1 John 5:19). Also, Saint Paul the Apostle describes the current world as “this present evil age” (Galatians 1:4).
The redemption that the heavenly Father, completed in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ on the holy Cross, is redemption for our souls from sin and its authority, and from judgment. However, we await the Second Coming of Christ to redeem our bodies and renew the creation. Concerning this, St. Paul the Apostle says: “For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body” (Romans 8:22-23). We still “wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself” (Philippians 3:20-21).
Let us hope for the day in which Satan, evil (i.e. sin), and the evil nature (i.e. the sinful nature) will end, and thereafter we will live in the Kingdom of God without disease. This is preached to us in the Book of Revelation: “The Devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast (evil) and the false prophet (the sinful nature) are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Revelation 20:10).
Third: God’s children who live under the protection of the heavenly Father do not fear nor be terrified of any dangers or epidemics. The Scripture is full of divine promises that express this, some of which is included in Psalm 91: “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.” Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler And from the perilous pestilence. He shall cover you with His feathers, And under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler. You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, Nor of the arrow that flies by day, Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday. A thousand may fall at your side, And ten thousand at your right hand; But it shall not come near you. Only with your eyes shall you look, And see the reward of the wicked. Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, Even the Most High, your dwelling place, No evil shall befall you, Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways. In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone. You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra, The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot. “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; will set him on high, because he has known My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him, And show him My salvation.”
Fourth: It is wise to follow all the necessary health precautions to limit the spread of the disease. One aspect of the Law that God has established is the commandments in place to care for the health of His people and to avoid spreading infection, such as the commandments concerning leprosy and touching of blood.
However, we must always recognize and believe that only God is the Savior, and nothing is meaningful without His direct intervention. The Lord says in the book of Isaiah: “I, even I, am the Lord, And besides Me there is no savior” (Isaiah 43:11). Also, “‘Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; “For Yah, the Lord, is my strength and song; He also has become my salvation.”’ Therefore with joy you will draw water From the wells of salvation” (Isaiah 12:2-3).
Our faith in God’s promises and salvation is the way to be victorious over this world’s evils and dangers, “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith” (1 John 5:4).
If we view epidemics and dangers as an enemy God’s children face, we should believe that it was God who fought for His people in the story of the exodus of God’s people out of the land of slavery. Moses said to the people: “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today …. The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace” (Exodus 14:13-14). He also said on his deathbed: “The eternal God is your refuge [O His people], And underneath are the everlasting arms [carrying His people]; He will thrust out the enemy from before you…. Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord, The shield of your help And the sword of your majesty! Your enemies shall submit to you, And you shall tread down their high places” (Deuteronomy 33:27-29).
In the time of our tribulations, we cry out with Isaiah the Prophet, saying, “Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the Lord! Awake as in the ancient days, In the generations of old.… Are You not the One who dried up the sea, The waters of the great deep; That made the depths of the sea a road For the redeemed to cross over?” (Isaiah 51:9-10).
In the Book of Judges, the Lord has established a savior for His people whenever they cried out to Him. In more than one incident, it is written: “When the children of Israel cried out to the Lord, the Lord raised up a deliverer for the children of Israel, who delivered them” (Judges 3:9 & 15). In the Book of Psalms, David the Prophet says, “God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).
If we view epidemics and dangers as a result of the fall and sinning, then the heavenly Father has offered us salvation in the person of His Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ. The angel spoke to Joseph, and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:20-21).
Our fathers the Apostles testified to this: St. John says, “And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world” (1 John 4:14). St. Peter says, “Nor is there salvation in any other [i.e. other than Jesus Christ the Nazarene], for there is no other name [i.e. other than the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene] under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).
The salvation that was offered by God, the heavenly Father, in the person of our Lord Jesus is salvation from sin and from the consequences of sin, including sicknesses. For this reason, St. Matthew the Evangelist testifies to our Lord Jesus Christ that: “When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: ‘He Himself took our infirmities And bore our sicknesses’” (Matthew 6:16-17).
Just as we believe that the Lord Jesus is the Son of God and the Savior, let us also believe that He stands before the heavenly Father to intercede on our behalf to be saved from our sins, the consequences of our sins, and the evil of others, and also be saved from the this world’s tribulations, disasters, and diseases.
Saint Paul the Apostle says: “But He, [Jesus Christ], because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those [i.e. save from evil and the wicked deeds] who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:24-25). “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens [who is] Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession [with trust]. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:14-15).
Thus, “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16), “rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer” (Romans 12:12). “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6), “ praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18).
Fifth: The message of tribulations, disasters and epidemics that we face, including the spread of the Corona Epidemic, is primarily a message of repentance. It is a renewed call to hear the voice of the Lord Jesus, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matthew 3:2). The Lord God says to His people Israel in the Old Testament: “‘Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,’ says the Lord God. ‘Therefore turn and live!’” (Ezekiel 18:30-32).
The Lord Jesus taught that repentance is the first message to us whenever we hear of disasters or tribulations. It happened that some people came to tell Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate mingled with their sacrifices. Jesus answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:1-5).
Saint Peter the Apostle calls on everyone to repent so that the times of relief may come from the Lord, and He Himself may come again from heaven to be with Him in the world of peace and joy: “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.” (Acts 3:19-21).
Repentance opens the doors of heaven and heals nations after disasters. The Lord promised Solomon: “When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:13-14). Therefore, if we truly desire for our land to be healed from the attacks of wickedness and the evil one, let each of us turn away from evil and not “give place to the Devil” (Ephesians 4:27).
Repentance is a call from the heart to return to God. It is also the washing of grace through the Blood of Christ. One of the presbyters (elders) in the Book of Revelation said to St. John, “‘[those] arrayed in white robes’ … ‘are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them’” (Revelation 7:13-15).
Sixth: Recent tribulations are a divine call to live according to the Bible. In facing these tribulations and such, the Lord asks that we be honest in faith and abide by the commandments until death. He says to the angel of the Church of Smyrna: “‘These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life: “I know your works, tribulation…. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life”’” (Revelation 2:8-10).
The weapon by which we face tribulations in all their forms is the word of God. While Satan wages his war against God’s people, God’s children are armed with the word. Saint Paul the Apostle says to the Ephesians: “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth [i.e. the truth is God’s commandments], having put on the breastplate of righteousness [i.e. the fulfillment of God’s commandments], and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace [i.e. the word of God]; above all, taking the shield of faith [i.e. faith in fulfillment of God’s promises and commandments] with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation [i.e. salvation according to God’s promises], and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:10-17).
God’s children trust in God’s promises; therefore, tribulations and disasters are not a cause for fear not panic. The Lord Jesus teaches us to “not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:28-31).
In crises, God’s children appear as true servants by their patience, their hope, and their life according to the Gospel; “But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings; by purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love, by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, by honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things” (2 Corinthians 6:4-10).
Tribulations and Crises are a chance to act on Christian love towards our brethren who are suffering. St. Paul the Apostles says: “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another” (Romans 12:15-16). “Remember the prisoners as if chained with them—those who are mistreated—since you yourselves are in the body also” (Hebrews 13:3).
In conclusion: Nothing can separate us from the love of God, the heavenly Father that is in Christ Jesus, our Lord. St. Paul the Apostles expresses beautifully this when he says: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: ‘For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.’ Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35-39).
“May the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 5:10-11).
Fr Abraam Sleman