This isn't the first time.. Pandemics, plagues and viruses have hit before. It might be new to us, but followers of Jesus have walked through this trial ahead of us. How did they respond? What did their faith in God look like in these circumstances?
Around 500 years ago, Martin Luther experience the plague called, "The Black Death." Martin Luther described his response to the threat and the need of that situation. He answered the question, "Should I flee from a deadly plague?"
"I shall ask god to mercifully protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, 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 inflict and pollute others, and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should will to take me, he will surely find me and I have done what he has expected of me, and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me, however, I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely as stated above. See, this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy, and does not tempt God." (from Luther's Works, Vol. 43, pg. 132 - "Whether one may flee from a deadly plague""
This quote has been forwarded, texted and posted a lot in the last couple weeks. Why is it so appealing? Because it reminds us that this experience is not new. If Christians found God trustworthy in times like these before, then so can we. There is nothing too difficult for our God, and with our God, we can walk through this storm.
Finally, note the three things Luther is doing:
- He does the practical things to avoid sickness for himself and for others, just as we are with cleanliness, social distancing and staying out of the way. He is looking out for himself and for others.
- "If God should take me..." He fears God more than the disease.
- Because he fears God more, he places the needs of others above self. His reaction to the disease is not hoarding supplies and becoming a hermit. He "freely" goes to help his neighbor when the need arises.
Who is your neighbor? Listen to the Holy Spirit who is both our comforter and and teacher. Respect the authorities who are working to slow the spread of this virus, yet follow the Lord's lead and reach out to those who are alone and in need. Look out for your neighbors. This is how we Love God and Love Others.
Like never before, we have an open door to share the love and Good News of Jesus Christ.