Each day seems to bring increased fear and panic over the coronavirus (COVID-19). There is contagion confusion and market mayhem. There are devastating disruptions and panicked prices. Texas Governor Greg Abbott says the State is responding to the cases here, no doubt with the best-available human wisdom.
God in His unsearchable Divine wisdom and for His good purposes has permitted what is quickly becoming a pandemic. Influenza may be more widespread and kill more (although abortion is the world’s leading cause of death), but so much about the coronavirus is unknown and so causes greater fear and panic.
Whatever theory about the coronavirus’s immediate origin is true, spiritually we would say that humankind’s fall into sin brought death into the world, including deadly diseases such as the cornavirus, even if some viruses were in the world before the fall and still serve good purposes.
Those infected with the coronavirus do not seem to have committed a specific sin that caused their infection, and by nature they are not worse sinners than anyone else. All of us should repent lest something worse, such as eternal torment in hell, happen to us. When we turn in sorrow from our sin and trust God to forgive us for the sake of the crucified God-man Jesus Christ, then God forgives our sinful nature and all our sin. He Who demonstrated His identity during His earthly ministry by temporarily healing those with diseases gives greater permanent healing by resurrecting the dead and glorifying all repentant believers.
Until then, we pray, as in the Great Litany, for the Good Lord to deliver us from all such pestilence as the coronavirus. We trust Him to deliver us in His way and time and to work the suffering He permits together for our good. But, without fear and panic, we still take necessary precautions, such as minimizing exposure and washing our hands more to prevent infection and, when we are sick, staying home, where pastoral care can come to us.
Throughout history, even the plague did not keep the faithful from having compassion on and caring for the afflicted, which witnessed to the world. And, the Church does not give up meeting together and is not afraid to drink from the one cup of wine that is Christ’s Blood, for it is a salutary (healthful) gift that strengthens and preserves us in body and soul to life everlasting.
The Rev. Dr. Jayson S. Galler is Pastor of Pilgrim Lutheran Church in Kilgore. You can reach him through the congregation’s website: www.pilgrimlc.org.