The national public health emergency we are facing is a real and present danger. However, it is not unprecedented. Not only have we faced public health crises before, but we have also faced much worse—yes, worse. For instance, some of us have faced cancer. Some of us have faced enemy fire on a battlefield far from the peace and relative safety of small-town America (or a village in England, a city in Canada, Australia, or a farm in New Zealand). Many of us have faced an emotional crisis. Everyone who lives past childhood, into the middle years of adulthood, will face the loss of loved ones. “This is quite personal,” someone replies. “Your examples are on a small scale. We are dealing with a global pandemic.” Quite so. However, even on a large scale, human societies have lived with war, pestilence, and collapsing international markets. We are neither the first or last generation to face pandemics or similar catastrophies.
That fact is not to diminish the severe situation we face.
The point is: I don’t dare minimize the threat at all. On the contrary, the pandemic is a real, and, by all accounts, remarkably infectuous disease. We must take every precaution. Follow the federal and state guidelines (and, in some cases, now, the law). Be on guard. Let’s stop the spread of this awful disease. This, too, is our duty. I am saying to do so with resolve, with determination, and, above all, with Christian faith in the God who still speaks to us through His Word:
“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6 NKJV).
There is a quote from C.S. Lewis from one of his essays (Present Concerns, 1948). I thank my friend, The Hon. Steve Maye, for sharing this timely resource with me. I think it is most appropriate. As usual, Lewis’ insights prove to be both universal in culture and time as he applied Biblical truth with Christian graces and human appeal. Here is Lewis “On Living in the Atomic Age:”
In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb. “How are we to live in an atomic age?” I am tempted to reply: “Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.”
In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors—anesthetics; but we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.
This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes to find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.
— C. S. Lewis (1898–1963)
Lewis, C. S. “On Living in the Atomic Age.” In Present Concerns: A Compelling Collection of Timely, Journalistic Essays, edited by Walter Hooper, 73–74. London: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 2002.
Christian shepherds have sought to gather believers in difficult days like these with common prayers, “collects,” that unite us in coming before our loving and compassionate Savior. Will you pray with me?
OUR HEAVENLY FATHER, ALMIGHTY AND SOVEREIGN GOD: Thou art the Covenant God who looked with mercy upon a fallen race, sending Thine only begotten Son to be an atonement for our sins and a righteous Branch to cover our shameful nakedness; So, too, O God, in our great hour of need, when a sinful consequence of the Fall, this loathsome virus called Corona, a petulant pretender to Thy sovereign Kingship, threatens Thy creation with its lethal and pandemic power, especially the aged, the weak, and the poor, guard these Thy little ones, and grant us Thy salvation, physical and spiritual, local, national, and global; by a mere word from Heaven, cleansing our souls in the saving life blood of Jesus shed for all who call upon His name, an offering for the world poured out freely on Calvary’s cross, clearing our guilt in Christ’s crucifixion, confirming our hope of eternal life in Christ’s resurrection, and causing our eyes to look heavenward in Christ’s ascension, and soon-return; Give unusual wisdom to those gifted and and trained with healing in their hands, grant a spirit of cooperation and a will for coordination to the leaders of nations, especially for Thy servants—our President, Donald, and our Vice President, Michael—and all of those in human government, so that, by Thy gracious and divine intervention, we may speedily know the very end of this vile pestilence and see a new beginning to Thy victorious Kingdom, in our hearts and in our land; Hear our plea for Thy Son’s sake, and be merciful to us, a sinful , unworthy, and humbled People; And cause this wicked wormwood called, “Corona” to yield its crown of death to the one, true Sovereign, the coronated Christ, Jesus, the Lord of Life; And in Thy mercy, make haste to save us, O Triune God; So, we pray with expectation as we leave our fears at the foot of the cross, for we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.Michael A. Milton