Faith in the Time of Coronavirus

Watching the global statistics of more than 197,000 people infected with COVID-19 is frightening. Hearing about 187 local cases doubles that fear. But seeing DOH personnel get someone from the building where you live is enough to make one panic. Coronavirus is throwing us all into a mad tailspin and we still don’t know when it’s going to end.

Today, more than ever, it is easier to join in the hysteria and uniformly blame nations, institutions, and individuals. As someone who has been monitoring the online chatter since the second week of January, I somehow understand the outrage. Some of it is warranted. Some, not so much. But outrage feels satisfying so we join in the fray. It gives us something to do. It makes us feel like we have dealt with something to help solve the problem.

It is in times like this that we need to grab hold of something better than outrage, something more hopeful that would quiet our raging fears. The ancient Hebrew prophet Isaiah shows us how. In Isaiah 6:1, the prophet wrote: “In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple.” What follows that ordinary introduction is a description of Isaiah’s dazzling vision of the throne room of God: seraphim caught in mid-worship, doorposts shaking, smoke filling the house, awesome holiness. 

Do not miss the powerful contrast Isaiah described. The king was dead. The balance of power was upset. The threat of being invaded by foreign powers was real. The kingdom was in peril. Stability was gone. People could die. The future was uncertain. In the midst of all these, Isaiah saw the Lord sitting on his throne.

I cannot emphasize this enough. When the world around us is crumbling down and the only stability we’ve always known is being pulled from under our feet, look to the Lord. He remains seated on his throne, majestic as ever. I love the subtle emphasis on the fact that God is seated on his throne. Sitting down is not something we do when we panic. We humans pace around, we scramble for something to do to be in control. God is sitting down. He is in control. 

The rest of the book of Isaiah shows that God rules the nations and the unfolding history of the world. The death of Uzziah and the political turmoil in Isaiah’s day are but a small dot in the vast world our God governs. This gives me hope. If Isaiah’s God is my God, then my fears can be laid aside. Even as my world falls apart, I can find refuge in the stability of the Almighty God. The ancient sages are right. “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold (Psalm 18:2).”