Are you ready for the outbreak of COVID-19? And no, I don't mean if you've stocked up on toilet paper or not. It has been interesting, to say the least, to observe society's response to the looming threat of this pandemic. Many people have panicked; some have announced this is the sign of the end times; some have laughed it off as a big fuss over nothing. Regardless of how far this virus may spread, we know our every day normal has definitely changed for the next several weeks at least. Sports are canceled, schools are canceled, vacations are canceled. Are you prepared for all of these changes?
1. Are you prepared to slow down? I am certainly not trying to make light of this disease or the lives that have been lost because of it, but the measures taken to protect our society have certainly cleared up the calendar quite a bit! I think this was something all of us actually needed but didn't know how to institute on our own. We have become a society that is constantly on the go, running from one event to the next. We are all collectively exhausted from it. So soak up this mandatory time to slow down. Use this time now to do all those things we've said we just don't have time for. (And maybe we can find those things called books again...)
2. Are you prepared for extra family time? When we stop running around, it allows us to actually spend precious time with those around us. There are no sports on TV, so there's no big game or tournament you're missing. Turn off the TV and spend time with the ones you have pledged to love until death do you part.
3. Are you prepared to educate your children? Now that schools are closed, many parents are asking, "Who is going to watch my children?" That question itself is very telling about our education system. The question should be, "Who is going to teach my children?" The school should be doing more than just babysitting our kids. (As full disclosure I have been homeschooling this past year so I'm a little biased.)
Here is your opportunity to take an active part in your child's education. See what they're learning at school. Ask questions about it. Have discussions on what worldview is present in their textbooks and teacher's notes. Even better use it as a time to study the Bible with your kids. Without needing to rush off to school, spend time in the morning studying God's word with them.
4. Are you prepared to have your perspective shifted? My hope is that one byproduct of this situation is we regain proper perspective of things in our lives. We need to be reminded that entertainment is just entertainment. It seems the things we are obsessed with the most are the things that matter the least. In a crisis like this, we begin to see what things are truly essential and what things we have been wasting our time on.
5. Most important, are you prepared if the Coronavirus happens to you? We are all nervous about whether we will be infected or not, but the truth is, whether you are infected now or not, you will die one day. James 4:14 says, "You do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes." None of us are promised tomorrow. None of us are even promised our very next breath. This virus outbreak should remind us that life is fragile and fleeting.
It should cause you to think about what will happen when you die. In that moment, you will stand before the almighty God who created this universe and who is perfect, holy, and just. He must judge evil - and honestly, we desire Him to judge evil. We wouldn't want to worship a God who allows evil to go unpunished. We desire that justice down to our very core.
What will you say to this holy judge about the evil inside your own heart? Will you say, "Well I was a good person." Or, "I was better than so-and-so." Those statements don't absolve you of the evil that still lies within your own heart. Though you don't like to consider your own heart evil, it is the evil inside each of us that causes us to lie, to be angry, to get jealous, to covet what others have, and, worst of all, to think more highly of ourselves.
The only thing you can do is await God's just judgment on your evil heart. God cannot be in the presence of evil so the judgment is separation from this good and holy God. When God is love, light, life, and goodness imagine what an eternity separated from love, light, life, and goodness would hold. There is nothing you can do yourself to escape this judgment because everything you do still results in sin.
The only hope that you have is in the work God Himself did on your behalf on the cross. He knew you could never rid yourself of that sinning, evil heart. So He took on the just punishment in your place so you wouldn't have to face that. This is what was accomplished when Jesus was crucified on the cross. When you look to Him to cover over your sins, you can stand forgiven in His presence. And therefore you can remain in the presence of God, in the love, light, life, and goodness of a perfect and holy God.
May this be what you focus on during this Coronavirus threat. And may you cherish your loved ones enough to share what Jesus has done with them. Enjoy your extra time with your loved ones over these coming weeks.
Oh, and wash your hands with soap.