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I truly hate to be suspicious of my wonderful church family, but sometimes they simply leave me no choice. It could have simply been a coincidence, but when you consider that they keep insisting that I immediately take a cruise, and the fact that they have hidden all of my hand sanitizer, there seems to be only one logical conclusion:
They are trying to give me the coronavirus.
For the life of me I cannot figure out why. I have preached seven very encouraging messages on hell in a row, and none of them have been much more than two hours in length. And yet, despite all of that, the deacons especially have made a point of sneezing in their hands just before they reach out to shake mine. And all of them seem way too hopeful when they ask, "So, pastor, how are you feeling these days? A bit rundown, maybe?"
It's a conspiracy, I tell you. But I am not worried; I just bought some of Jim Bakker's Silver Solution Coronavirus Cure, and if you can't trust the former head of the PTL, who can you trust?
Those who know me probably figured out from the first sentence of all of this that I am being facetious. No one in my church is trying to kill me (that I know of), and I am not taking the coronavirus lightly. And I am certainly not making light of anyone who has lost his or her life, or anyone who has lost a loved one. Human life is precious, and any loss from this sickness or any other disease is a tragedy. My point in this column is not to minimize any loss, rather it is to balance our thinking.
If I were to look you in the eyes and say, "What is the coronavirus, and what does it do?" I suspect very few people could even begin to answer that question. And yet everyone seems to be reacting to it as if it is the Krippin virus from "I Am Legend," and only a heroic effort from Will Smith can save any of us from becoming flesh-eating zombies.
My doctorate is in theology, not medicine. That being the case, I certainly do not intend to dispense any medical counsel on this or any other physical disease or affliction. But I cannot help but notice that the hysteria surrounding this ailment seems quite out of proportion to the ailment itself.
As of the time I am writing this column, there have been just 21 coronavirus deaths in the United States, and just 3,500 deaths from it worldwide, even though there have been more than 105,000 confirmed cases of it. (https://www.wtae.com/article/19-people-in-us-have-died-from-coronavirus-as-the-outbreak-spreads-to-32-states-and-dc/31272722)
Simply put, one is far, far more likely to live through the coronavirus than to die from it. As BBC News reported, "On Sunday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the UK government's 'very best assessment' was that the mortality rate was '2% or, likely, lower'." (https://www.bbc.com/news/health-51674743)
In other words, calm down. And for the born-again child of God, that message should resonate for several reasons.
To begin with, we know that not one thing ever catches God by surprise. The Lord did not look down from his throne a few weeks ago and say, "Coronavirus? Where did that one come from?" No, he is what he has always been, the all-knowing God. Proverbs 15:3 says, "The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good." As one old mountain preacher so astutely observed, "Has it ever occurred to you that nothing has ever occurred to God?"
Beyond that, we know that there is nothing beyond his power to deal with. Just knowing everything would not be much good if one did not have the power to do anything about it. But Matthew 19:26 tells us that "Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible." I find it more than just a touch "theologically ironic" to see Christians trust God to keep them from hell, while seemingly doubting that he can also keep them from getting the coronavirus or preserve them through it if they do get it.
Lastly, we know both from Scripture and from thousands of years of empirical data that all of us are, in fact, going to die at some point. But we also know that most of the things we thought were going to kill us actually don't. I can remember at least a hundred times in my life that I was sure I was going to die, and yet here I am still merrily typing away. So why should we panic? The rule of thumb should be "sensible precautions, yes. Panic, no."
Unless any more of my deacons ask me about my life insurance policy. At that point it might just be time to panic.
Bo Wagner is pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, North Carolina, a widely traveled evangelist and the author of several books available on Amazon and at www.wordofhismouth.com. Email him at email@example.com.