Now if we step back for a moment and take a deep breath, we might begin to understand that the panic under way is much more about how things are being presented to us and a lot less about the reality behind them. Very few people are discussing the facts surrounding this virus and its real effects on people. So it turns out the media is not just reporting this news but making the news. The more people panic the more they panic others in a self fulfilling way. Panic creates panic and right now there is no end in sight. But, if we are honest, we simply don’t really know what is fully going on. Right now, we can’t easily understand the facts of the matter without the media’s polarization of this issue. That will take some time, but not too many people have any interest in doing that because of a variety of hidden agendas.
One of the important facts about the current coronavirus panic that shocks people is the fact that it has statistically killed dramatically fewer people than many common strains of flu we experience each year. The world faces a variety of influenza strains every year that have resulted in the deaths of untold thousands of people around the world, up to 646,000 last year, and there was no panic anywhere. The entire world was silent about those issues. Here is a statement from the CDC or Center for Disease Control and Prevention about a typical flu season in America,
The burden of influenza disease in the United States can vary widely and is determined by a number of factors including the characteristics of circulating viruses, the timing of the season, how well the vaccine is working to protect against illness, and how many people got vaccinated. While the impact of flu varies, it places a substantial burden on the health of people in the United States each year. CDC estimates that influenza has resulted in between 9 million – 45 million illnesses, between 140,000 – 810,000 hospitalizations and between 12,000 – 61,000 deaths annually since 2010.
How many of us realize that only 4269 people have died from the coronavirus worldwide to date? Of course, that number may grow dramatically in the next few weeks, but it still has a long way to go to just match flu deaths in the USA of up to 61,000 in a typical year. Once again, when you stop and look at some of the numbers you realize that perception is reality and that until the facts begin to emerge on this disease the world will remain in panic for the near future no matter what the facts seem to be.
The reason why this issue is important to look at from a Biblical standpoint is because man-made panics are spiritual in nature. In other words, whenever a panic is started it begins to change our view of the world as an orderly and beautiful place created and designed by the Lord for His glory and our blessing. The moment a panic is triggered it raises questions of whether or not there is a loving God in charge of the world or whether we are just alone down here with the forces of nature and biology left to chance. And if the latter is the case, then the earth may end at any moment if we don’t take action immediately. In other words, it is up to us to save the world right NOW and we better get busy or we might all die from the coronavirus. Sadly, some see our world just returning to the naturalistic forces that somehow created it out of the primordial soup that we evolved from in the beginning. Surely such a view has no place for the loving and sovereign God of the Bible.
So as this coronavirus panic unfolds it is an important opportunity to ask ourselves what we really believe about God. Is God in charge of this world? Can an invisible virus stop God Almighty’s plans for the world or our lives? Can humanity solve this problem on our own? Are there problems so great and confusing that even God panics? The answers to all these questions is rooted and grounded in the Nature of Almighty God. The Bible has never been unclear about the fact that God is in absolute control of this world. Every atom, every event and every issue of life are under the Lord’s watchful eye. A great passage regarding the Lord’s sovereign control over our world comes from Isaiah 46:9-11 where we hear,
I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please. ‘From the east I summon a bird of prey; from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose. What I have said, that I will bring about; what I have planned, that I will do.
All of this leads to an obvious and clear conclusion that the Lord has never panicked or been unsettled because the Lord is God and by definition is in control of everything for His good purposes, even those underway with the coronavirus. The world is under the Lord’s providential and careful eye to fulfill His good plans for us and that should fill us with faith and calm our hearts in this hour. The Westminster Confession of Faith captures this loving and sovereign Hand of our Lord in a section on God’s providence where we hear,
God, who created everything, also upholds everything. He directs, regulates, and governs every creature, action, and thing, from the greatest to the least, by his completely wise and holy providence. He does so in accordance with his infallible foreknowledge and the voluntary, unchangeable purpose of his own will, all to the praise of the glory of his wisdom, power, justice, goodness, and mercy. God is the first cause, and in relationship to him everything happens unchangeably and infallibly. However, by this same providence, he orders things to happen from secondary causes. As a result of these secondary causes, some things must inevitably happen; others may or may not happen depending on the voluntary intentions of the agents involved; and some things do not have to happen but may, depending on other conditions day by day. But, as he pleases, he may work without, beyond, or contrary to these means. God’s providence reveals his almighty power, unknowable wisdom, and infinite goodness.
The reason why the coronavirus panic has been so powerful today is because our world is so far from the Lord. Most of the people behind our centers of power and the media have no faith at all in a Sovereign Lord. Instead, many of them want to be in control. So it is possible that these individuals will create panic, or allow it to work, for their own spiritual and/or political purposes to gain power and control over others. That is happening right now before our very eyes. IF you can panic people about their health, money or political views you can manipulate them into seeing you or someone else as a savior. That is what much of this current drama is about…..people are beginning to look to the government as a savior. The world is being set up for a false savior, not the one the Lord already offered freely in the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ to die for sin. You see the real problem that is causing our panic right now is sin, not the corona virus or anything else. Without a real solution for sin and death there could never be a way to solve this issue or any problem we face for that matter. People seem to forget that 1 out of 1 die from sin and that 150,000 people will die today from just living in a fallen world. The Good News of course is that our Lord is the Lord and God of this world and He has never panicked for one second. Our Lord Jesus came to bring forgiveness, salvation, peace and rest for all who would trust Him as the Savior of sinners and Savior of our world. Our Lord put it so well when He said in Matthew 11:28-30,
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
In closing, I hope we all realize that we are living in amazing times as our Lord Jesus’ return draws nearer. The growing global panic that has gripped the world is a sign of that coming. I hope everyone can see that. Until that Day, we all live with this growing chaos, tumult and panic that comes from the world trying to solve its own problems in its own way without the Lord. If there was ever a time to run into the calming and reassuring embrace of our Lord and put our faith in Him, it is now. May we all find peace and rest in the storms of life’s uncertainties as look to our Lord and His redeeming love for us that comes through grace alone. This is a wonderful time to share the Gospel with someone we know that may be in a panic right now. The story of life has never changed…..people need the Lord.
Dr. Jeff Carlsen serves as Pastor of Oakhill Church. You can find more of his writing at the Carlson Report