Biblical and Practical Perspectives on the Coronavirus Crisis

By Eternal Perspective Ministries March 13, 2020

I hope the following links and resources will be helpful in providing encouragement and biblical perspective to churches, families, and individuals. Many thanks to Stephanie Anderson at Eternal Perspective Ministries for assembling these. —Randy Alcorn


Articles Related to the Coronavirus

Social Distance, Don’t Social Isolate
Whitney Woollard shares some ways she has stayed actively engaged in life despite extraordinary limitations. She encourages us not to spend the coming weeks fixated on our isolation, but on our opportunity to grow in Christlikeness, compassion, and perspective.

Watch Your (Knowledge) Diet in the COVID-19 Crisis
During a pandemic, in a world with more and more information but less and less wisdom, what are we to do? How can we stay sane, mentally and spiritually healthy, and wise? Brett McCracken share some suggestions.

How Do I Fight My Coronavirus Fears?
This is a terrific 17-minute audio from John Piper on fighting fear of the coronavirus and everything else. Seriously, you won’t find anything more biblically rock solid, God-exalting, and ultimately encouraging. Consider listening and sharing with family and friends, it’s gold. —Randy

7 ways to love our neighbors while socially distanced
As you read these ideas, would you pray and ask God to show you how he would lead you to be generous to the people and needs in your community?

God Doesn’t Want Us to Sacrifice the Old
We must reject suggestions that it makes sense to prioritize the care of those who are young and healthy over those who are elderly or have disabilities.

Coronavirus and Christ: 'Behold the Kindness and Severity of God'
John Piper writes, "It matters little what we think about the coronavirus. But it matters forever what God thinks. He is not silent about what he thinks. Scarcely a page in the Bible is irrelevant for this crisis."

Never a Better Time for Family Prayer
A reminder that this is a great time to pray with your family.

Putting Our Hope in God’s Ownership and Provision in Times of Financial Worry
One of the best things we can do to find encouragement and perspective in times like these is to start by remembering God’s ownership.

Love in an Economic Crisis
Justin Lonas explains how, through our stewardship, the church can help to “flatten the curve” of the virus’s economic effects.

How To Make the Most of Lockdown (Tips from Christians in Italy)
A family in Italy shares some of the helpful things they have learned in these past weeks since lockdown began.

9 Ways to Love Your Neighbor in This Pandemic
Here are nine ways Christians can practically love our neighbors in this moment of crisis.

8 Things the Coronavirus Should Teach Us
Here are eight things we’d all do well to learn, or relearn, from this coronavirus scare.

8 Reminders in the Face of the Coronavirus Pandemic
What do we need to remember in these days of alarm?

Fighting Corona-Brain
During this crisis, what should pastors, parents, co-workers, and friends say to those with other vulnerabilities such as depression, anxiety, addiction? What do we say to ourselves? Here are 8 ways to fight the fear.

What Hasn’t Changed During a Global Pandemic
It’s important to remember what hasn’t changed. Here Christians need to lean in, not only to remember but also to respond in this season of change.

No Meat or Potatoes, But the Candy Aisle Is Full
When suffering hits and exposes our weakness—when we encounter the frightening diagnosis, the sudden accident, or the death of a loved one—sweets don’t satisfy. The candy aisle cannot sustain us.

God’s People Need an Eternal Perspective During the Coronavirus Crisis
If we’re going to see the eternal during the Coronavirus crisis, we have to listen to something other than all the voices of the culture. God’s Word needs to guide us.

Tackling Some of the Tough Questions Related to the Coronavirus
Randy and two of the pastors at his home church tackle some of the difficult theological and practical questions Christians may have related to the coronavirus crisis.

Christians, This Is Our Moment: A Call to Clarity and Mission
There is no need to panic, but there is a need to plan well and wisely--protecting our church family and serving the community in Jesus' name.

5 Things to Remember When the Coronavirus Cancels Your Life
In light of the uncertainty and disruption, here are five things young people (and people of all ages) would do well to remember.

Worry, the Coronavirus, and Corrie ten Boom on God’s Provision for Each Moment
As coronavirus cases continue to crop up across the U.S., many people are struggling with fear over the future. As followers of Jesus, what should our response be?

Trillia Newbell – Choosing Faith over Fear
God gives us the grace we need to cast our fears onto Him. 

How Do We Make Sense of the Coronavirus?
Audio of John Piper sharing four biblical realities that we can use as building blocks in our effort to understand and make sense of the coronavirus.

Should Christians Be Anxious About the Coronavirus?
How should we help a panicked world?

How to Talk to Children About the Coronavirus
Crises like this provide valuable opportunities for meaningful conversations with our kids.

What the Early Church Can Teach Us About the Coronavirus
The early church was no stranger to plagues, epidemics, and mass hysteria.

7 Lessons from Singapore’s Churches for When the Coronavirus Reaches Yours
Advice from Christians in the “Antioch of Asia” on how your congregation can survive—and thrive—amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Believers in East Asia grow in faith during coronavirus outbreak
God’s provision has come through a simple conviction to keep trusting Him and walking in faith even when they do not have a clear answer as to when this season will end.

A Pastor’s Update from Italy on the Coronavirus
Rev. Michael Brown, a pastor in Milan, Italy, shares how we can be praying for the Italian church amid the coronavirus situation.

C. S. Lewis on the Coronavirus
C. S. Lewis’s words—written 72 years ago—ring with some relevance for us.

Love without foolhardiness
Applying Martin Luther’s teaching to coronavirus concern

COVID-19: Lessons from Martin Luther
No matter what you face today as you journey through this world with devils filled who threaten to undo you—you can walk with confidence that your God is big. 

Prayers from Scotty Smith:

Jesus’ Love, Touch, and Return

Not a Spirit of Fear

 

Resources on Suffering

Randy Alcorn’s message “Difficult Truths & Deep Love: Pondering Sovereignty, Suffering, and the Promise of Heaven”:

Randy’s handout on Romans 8:28

There Is No Pointless Suffering
By recognizing and believing in God’s sovereignty, even over Satan’s work, our perspective is transformed.

The Good We Never Ask For: What God Does for Us in Suffering
There’s no nearness to God without dependence on God. And nothing makes us more dependent on Him than when the bottom drops out.

Why Doesn’t God Do More to Restrain Evil and Suffering?
God may already be restraining 99.99 percent of evil and suffering.

Why Does God Allow Evil and Suffering?
Ultimately, the answer to the problem of evil and suffering is not a philosophy, but a Person; not words, but the Word.

Perspectives from John Piper:

How Can God Be Sovereign and Good and Allow Suffering?

Are We Called to Thank God for Our Severest Suffering?

Is Pain Punishment for My Sin?

 

Resources on Worry and Anxiety

5 Reasons to Rejoice, Not Worry
Worry is a kill-joy. It specializes in worst case scenarios when God promises us best case scenarios.

Why You Can Trust in God’s Provision – and Not Worry
All of us trust in something. The more dependable the object of our trust, the less we need to worry. 

Facing Fear with Faith
Whether you suffer from specific phobias, a chronic fear of harm or death to yourself or loved ones, or any other fear, here are some suggestions for handling them.

 

Our Finest Hour or Fret over Toilet Paper?
Reflections from Rick Allen, CEO of MedSend

My wife went to our local supermarket and the store shelves were stripped of essentials. There was not one roll of toilet paper to be found! What a crisis! As my kids would say “it is a first-world problem.” I do not want to diminish the impact of the Novel Corona virus that is among us. But our grant recipients serve every day with the threat of death from germs and diseases. It is a normal part of their life and the lives of those they serve. We have been alerted to this threat in the last few weeks and suddenly all the toilet paper, water and chicken has been emptied from our store shelves.

I began to ask myself “How have Christ followers responded in past instances like this?” I went back, way back, to see what history had to teach. It seems that, prior to Constantine’s decree that Christianity was to be the official religion of Rome, there was much interest in the Christians. One of the primary reasons is that when plagues hit the empire, the rich and anyone who could afford to flee would head for the hills (the hill country). However, many Christians stayed and cared for the sick and dying, often dying themselves. The Romans asked themselves “who would do this and why?” This small group of rebels and misfits were then able to share the reason for their Hope.

Martin Luther commented a thousand years later on the plague of his time (c.1527):

You ought to think this way: “Very well, by God’s decree the enemy has sent [a pestilence]… I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall… administer medicine, and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance infect and pollute others… If people in a city were to show themselves bold in faith when a neighbor’s need so demands, and cautious when no emergency exists, and if everyone would help ward off contagion as best he can, then the death toll would indeed be moderate. But if some are too panicky and desert their neighbors in their plight, and if some are so foolish as to not take precautions but aggravate the contagion, then the devil has a heyday and many will die.” —Martin Luther on "Whether One May Flee from a Deadly Plague"(c.1527)

As a matter of fact, there have been a lot of plagues over time.

Here are a notable few -

  • The Antonine Plague (AD 165) This pandemic was brought back to Rome by soldiers returning from Mesopotamia around AD 163. They spread a disease that eventually killed over five million people.
  • The Plague of Justinian (AD 541–42) This was an outbreak of bubonic plague that killed up to twenty-five million people. By one estimate, 50 percent of the European population perished.
  • The Black Death (1346–53) This was another outbreak of bubonic plague that killed between seventy five and two hundred million people. It devastated Europe, Africa, and Asia.
  • The influenza that swept the globe in two waves in 1918 and a third in 1919 was the worst pandemic after the Black Death. Half a billion people—a third of the world’s population—were infected.

There are several pandemics right here in our day and age.

  • The WHO estimates that there were 228 million cases of malaria worldwide in 2018, with 405,000 deaths. Almost half the world’s population—about 3.2 billion people—are at risk. The disease kills a child every two minutes.
  • Some consider cholera to be in its seventh pandemic. It has lasted longer than any previous pandemic and shows no sign of easing. Researchers estimate that there are between 1.3 million and 4 million cases a year, with up to 143,000 deaths worldwide.
  • Tuberculosis (TB) might be the oldest human disease, but this pandemic is still with us. Due to multidrug-resistant TB, poor infection control and drug shortages, tuberculosis now kills more people than at any other time in history.
  • The AIDS pandemic has infected approximately 37.9 million people around the world, with 1.7 million new infections in 2018. According to the WHO, since the beginning of the epidemic, 75 million people have been infected with the HIV virus; about 32 million have died of it.

We should not be reckless or cavalier as we respond to Covid-19. But we need to realize that we are living in a God-ordained “bubble of time and place.” The rest of the world, on this very day, is dealing with the pandemics cited above and death from them in the millions. So now that it is in our face, will we turn and run from our neighbor, isolate ourselves from the world and chase after toilet paper? Or will we stand on the Rock of our salvation and proclaim why we have Hope?

I am hopeful that we (I) will do as we are instructed, to always be wise, always be bold, and never be fearful. And if that means we are quarantined, let us rest assured that the Word and Power and Name of God will never be quarantined.

I pray for blessing and good health for you and all those you love.

In His Service,

Rick Allen

CEO, MedSend

 


Nanci read this March 13 entry of Paul David Tripp’s New Morning Mercies the morning after schools were closed, sports discontinued, and gatherings of 250 people or more were banned. Pretty great timing and great insights. —Randy

Resting in God’s Absolute Rule

You don’t have to worry about whether your world is under control. God rules. You just have to trust him when his rule isn’t evident.

I looked everywhere. I looked high and low. There wasn’t a drawer, a cabinet, or a dark closet I didn’t tear apart in my search. I even went out to the car twice to make sure I hadn’t left it there. The file contained important papers, and I had lost it somewhere. It was so frustrating. And after all my searching, it was just as lost as when I had begun. That night it hit me that my lost file was a picture of how little control I have over my own life. I do not even have sovereignty over my little world to guarantee that I will never lose important things. It can be a bit scary to consider. You and I have very little power and control over the most significant things in our lives. You and I don’t know what’s going to happen next. We don’t have a clue what will be on our plates next week or next month. We have little control over the principal people in our lives, little power over the situations in which we live, and almost no control over the locations of our lives.

Honestly facing your lack of sovereignty over your own life produces either anxiety or relief. Anxiety is God-forgetting. It is the result of thinking that life is on your shoulders, that it is your job to figure it all out and keep things in order. It’s worrisome to think that your job in life is to work yourself into enough control over people, locations, and situations that you can rest assured that you will get what you think you need an accomplish what you think you need to accomplish. If you fall into this way of thinking, your life will be burdened with worry and your heart will be filled with dread.

But there is a much better way. It is God-remembering. It rests in the relief that although it may not look like it, your life is under the careful control of One who defines wisdom, power, and love. In all of those moments when life is out of your control, it is not out of his control: “For his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation;… and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, ‘What have you done?’ (Dan. 4:34-35).

You see, rest is not to be found in your control but in God’s absolute rule over everything. You will never be in a situation, location, or relationship that is not under his control.

For further study and encouragement: Psalm 97

Excerpted from New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional by Paul David Tripp

 

Thoughts from Charles Spurgeon

“He shall not be afraid of evil tidings; his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord.” Psalm 112:7

Suspense is dreadful. When we have no news from home, we are apt to grow anxious, and we cannot be persuaded that “no news is good news.” Faith is the cure for this condition of sadness; the Lord by His Spirit settles the mind in holy serenity, and all fear is gone as to the future as well as the present.

The fixedness of heart spoken of by the psalmist is to be diligently sought after. It is not believing this or that promise of the Lord, but the general condition of unstaggering trustfulness in our God, the confidence which we have in Him that He will neither do us ill Himself nor suffer anyone else to harm us. This constant confidence meets the unknown as well as the known of life.

Let the morrow be what it may, our God is the God of tomorrow. Whatever events may have happened, which to us are unknown, our Jehovah is God of the unknown as well as of the known. We are determined to trust the Lord, come what may. If the very worst should happen, our God is still the greatest and best. Therefore will we not fear though the postman’s knock should startle us or a telegram wake us at midnight. The Lord lives, and what can His children fear?


A cloud may sometimes hover over us, but we will not remain in darkness if we believe in Jesus. If we have faith then we have the privilege of sunlight – so let us enjoy it. From the night of doubt, of despair, of dread, Jesus has come to set us free... Shake off your depression, dear brother or sister. Do not remain in the dark, but remain in the light. In Jesus is your hope, your joy, your heaven. Look to him and him alone, and you will rejoice as the birds rejoice at sunrise and as the angels rejoice before the throne.

 

Free Download from Desiring God

Risk Is Right: Better to Lose Your Life Than to Waste It by John Piper

 

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Resources for Church Leaders

Like Lovers, Parted by War
Some have raised concerns that cancelling embodied gatherings of the local church in the present crisis will lead to more and more people streaming services long-term. Rebecca McLaughlin suggests the opposite.

Does it violate religious liberty to close churches over coronavirus?
Over the last few weeks, Russell Moore has talked to many pastors about how churches should respond to guidelines or mandates that would close their doors for a time. Here's his advice.

Quick Take: What Should Churches Do About Coronavirus?
Mark Dever discusses what pastors and churches should do in light of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Taking Church Online in a Coronavirus Age
The rapid spread of COVID-19 has forced upon us an ecclesiological conundrum. What does it even mean to be a “church” in times like this? 

Love in the Time of Coronavirus
A guide for Christian leaders.

How DC Churches Responded When the Government Banned Public Gatherings During the Spanish Flu of 1918
As World War I was coming to a close, still another enemy was making its way toward the nation’s capital: the Spanish Flu.

This article links to a sermon given in 1918 by Reverend J. Francis Grimke that was later published and distributed, titled “Some Reflections: Growing Out of the Recent Epidemic of Influenza that Afflicted Our City.”

Grimke said:

In the presence of such a faith, in the realization of God’s love, as revealed in Jesus Christ, in the consciousness of fellowship with him, what are epidemics, what are scourges, what are all of life’s trials, sufferings, disappointments? They only tend to work out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. But, of course, if faith is to help us; if it is to put its great strong arms under us; if we are to feel its sustaining power under such distressing circumstances, it must be a real, living faith in God – it must be the genuine article – a faith that works, that works by love, and that purifies the heart. Any other faith is of absolutely no value to us in the midst of the great crises of life. And I said to myself while the epidemic was on, and while I was examining my own heart to see how far my religion was helping me to be calm, self-possessed. It is a good time for those of us who are Christians to examine ourselves to see exactly how it is with us, whether the foundation upon which we are building is a rock foundation – whether our faith is really resting upon Christ, the solid Rock, or not. And I still feel that one important function of this epidemic will be lost if it fails to have that effect upon us, if it does not lead to careful heart-searching on our part.

Photo by Carolyn V on Unsplash