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Pandemics and COVID-19

When a crisis strikes, people immediately wonder "Where is my God?" or simply "Where is God?" and "Why is this happening?" or "Why is this happening to me and those I love and care about?"

Some of those questions will likely have to wait to be asked of God in person. I can say for a certainty that God is still on His throne and He is still in ultimate control of what happens in His kingdom. We may not like some of what is going on now, but it is also almost 100% certain that God hasn't liked what has been occurring on Earth for a few thousand years either. That isn't to say that what is happening is His judgment. It isn't to say that it is not. I don't know of anyone who has heard a specific word from Him in that regard. One old saint of the church did have a dream that she saw Christ returned to the Earth and people were flocking to him for healing of the disease and He was doing so. The multitudes put to shame the size of the multitudes recorded in the Bible. The dream doesn't speak of judgment, but only of ultimate resolution. You must judge and weigh the dream for yourself, but if prophetical, then at least it says two things. The first is one we have always known. God is above all disease and He is our healer. That has always been true and always will be true. The second is that if literal, the Earth will be dealing with COVID-19 or some variant for at least seven more years as Christ won't return to Earth until the tribulation period is complete.

I can say that Revelation 6:1-6 describes four horses of the apocalypse, with riders symbolizing war, civil unrest, famine, and death with control of up to one quarter of the world to kill by sword, beast, hunger and pestilence. Many of those reading these verses in the past century have probably laughed at how crazy that sounded. This is especially true for the youth who haven't lived through a couple of world wars and the Spanish flu or who just laughed at a Monty Python scene and were ignorant of the 30 to 60% of Europeans who died with the Black Death for example. History is useful to know, even if it doesn't have a practical application. That's why the Bible includes so much history that archaeologists are proving actually happened and prophecy about history sometimes written thousands of years in advance that was then was fulfilled. It helps us to know that its prophecies that are yet to be fulfilled will also come about, just as it says. Be ready.

Now we see how our modern world copes with unexpected flu strains for which we have no pre-approved vaccines to provide some herd immunity. Things go great, until they don't and hospitals run out of beds and life support equipment. Then things go downhill rapidly and many die or have outcomes that lead to diminished capacity for the rest of their lives. Although the final tally won't be known for a couple of years, the death rate for proven cases is hitting 1.2 to 12.3% in some countries with the highest concentration per capita, and if you look at the death rate for closed cases worldwide it is around 21% as of this writing. Each time I think to edit something on the page and update the numbers it gets worse. The only big differences between countries are in how well they have been able to limit the spread. Once you've got the virus, you're largely at the mercy of pre-existing conditions and age as to your outcome. The totals still aren't huge when looking at the total population of the world, but for those who catch it it is grim in a lot of places.

And remember, that this is happening when the world is largely at "peace" with no other major catastrophes with which to deal. Imagine if Jesus had just returned for His church and lots of people were simply not here anymore. It would be interesting to see a percentage breakdown of Christians worldwide by profession, to know just how hard hit particular jobs would be. Probably a higher percentage of farmers, ranchers, and nurses than others (perhaps leading to the famine rider of the apocalypse). If people couldn't move around because of blocked roads and blocked runways and trains off the tracks due to crashes and earthquakes, the spread wouldn't be as bad. But likewise, the transport of medicine, ventilators, and food would be restricted. The panic buying of toilet paper in the cities would look laughable in the time of such a calamity.

Of course, that rapture will happen in an instant world-wide. The outcome for your particular country and city will be largely determined by whether it is night or day when it happens as that will affect how busy the roads and airports are. It will also depend on how many Christians there are. If your area has few, then the first impact won't be as large. But the next seven years are going to be awful, regardless of what position you start out in. God's true judgment in the tribulation of those who weren't ready will be terrifying.

In all this current crisis though, remember that God hasn't changed. He still loves all His people. He may not like what some of us do from time to time (and much more frequently than we should). But He still loves us. His plan of salvation hasn't changed. It's just a bit harder to get one on one help with right now as everyone is sheltering in place and churches are closed. If you're in doubt about how to go about His plan of salvation, read The Gospel's Message and John 16:8-11, Titus 3:4-7, and Romans 8:15-17. It has the basics and you can get right with God all on your own by just following a few simple steps. The support system isn't there right now with churches closed, but when they open, find a church and start attending. If you're troubled, think of a neighbor who goes to church every Sunday and go talk with them. Christianity hasn't stopped - it's just the meeting places that are shut down.

Take the time from now to churches reopening to read the New Testament on-line. Read John and Acts. Read the letters to the Corinthians and James. And since it's topical, read Daniel and Revelation to both see that God's prophecy was correct in the past for what would happen in the future and see what is yet to come. You can browse through the Eschatology pages for one view on the prophecy that was given of what is still to come after the rapture. Finally, even though churches may not be open, many are now running live services on the internet, so if you're looking to experience a different denomination or Christianity in general, there are some great opportunities now. If you'd like to see more about the Holy Spirit, look for services online from churches in Pentecostal denominations like the Assemblies of God.

If you're sick with the virus, remember that God still heals. If you read through many of the words given in God's Word for Today, you will see His continuing promise to heal. Just remember that you need to be His child before you can claim the promise. The only promise those who aren't His children have is that He will save you and accept you as His child if you ask. I won't give you a guarantee that God will choose to heal you. He has never been limited by His workers, but He did establish a pattern for how He wanted the New Testament church to work. In that pattern, He wants to baptize His followers with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4,38; Luke 11:13) and use them via the gifts of the Spirit to do His healing, miracles, give words of knowledge and wisdom, prophecy, discern spirits, have faith, and speak to his church with messages in tongues and interpretations (1 Corinthians 12:8-10). He wants all that work to be done by His followers full of the fruit of the Spirit being love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance according to Gal. 5:22-23. He's the one doing the work, but He wants to do it through Christians so that they can lead the people touched and those who observe and know of what happened in any particular circumstance to Him so He gets the glory and Christianity is spread.

Too many Christians, including myself fall short in allowing the Spirit to have free reign in our lives, so He doesn't have the number of workers that He should have to carry out His work (Romans 8:14). That's on all of us. Some would say we should just seek out the elders of the church for anointing with oil and prayer for healing as it says in James, but I suspect that when that was written the assumption was that they would be full of the Spirit, so we're possibly right back to finding some Christian willing to be used of God as a worker bee.

If you can't find someone filled with the Spirit, don't give up hope. Remember the widow who bugged the judge for help over and over and had her request granted because of her repeated pleadings with the judge in Luke 18:1-8. God is better than that judge and he loves His creation more. So don't forsake prayer in this time of struggle. But also don't just pray for yourselves. Lift up those who are struggling around the world as well in intercessory prayer. Pray for Christians to remain so. Pray for many to turn to Him. Pray for those who have lost loved ones that families will be strengthened in Him. Pray for denominations which have accepted what God has called sin in order to look like they are staying with the times to realize that God gets to decide what is sin and what isn't and help them to turn back to Him. Pray for those who have been deceived by false religions (and even those false religions which claim to be Christian) to have their eyes opened and turn to Him.

As this goes through to its inevitable end, don't give up faith. As was quoted in the passage about the judge, "Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?" Let your faith be made stronger. Love others. Don't live in fear. God is bigger than the worst trouble you have (whether COVID-19 or something else), and if we all live up to our Christian ideals, we'll all pull through together. He does expect us to do our part to try to prevent the spread of the virus. But He also, I think, expects us to continue to carry out His work. It's a delicate balance. But if you're called on to go and pray for someone, fear not. If you've lost a loved one, also never forget that heaven is a far better place to be than Earth even on Earth's best day. Just be sure you're ready to meet Him when you die as there are no second chances. Heaven was prepared for His children (John 14:1-4). Hell was prepared for those angels who had rebelled, but many others will join them there (Matthew 25:31-46, Revelation 19:11-20:15).

And always remember that He created a world and gave mankind a place in it that had a tree of life to keep them well. His plan never included sickness without healing nor eternal death. But Adam and Eve wouldn't follow His simple commands, so they were driven from the garden (Genesis 2:15-17,3:6-24). Later, the dietary laws of the Old Testament were given to keep the people of Israel healthy in a time of no refrigeration or processing and the precepts of avoiding certain foods were there to prevent the sort of viral cross contamination that is seen too often today, even with modern appliances. When He returns to reign, there will once again be trees with leaves for the healing of the nations provided by God so sickness will again be a thing of the past (Revelation 22). The horrors of sickness weren't a problem till mankind rebelled. If you want to cast blame, cast it on Adam and Eve, but also seriously ask yourself if you would have done better. I suspect I wouldn't have done so. But don't blame God. Even now He's willing to heal. Just have faith. And if you aren't yet right with God (in His eyes and not yours), then it's time to get right with Him and make Him Lord in your life.

God's blessings on all...