April 9, 2020

How to Avoid a Virus Far Worse Than COVID-19

Our local gym is closed because of the coronavirus, and my wife and I started to take walks around the neighborhood. On our afternoon walks, we noticed parents with strollers, families biking, adult and elderly couples exercising, and others walking their dogs. 

It’s been very interesting to observe their reactions when they see other people from afar. They immediately change direction, turn back, or switch sidewalks, and the boldest keep going and divert 10 feet from the other people. It looks as though they’ve seen an imminent threat and want to get away as far as possible. 

On a recent Sunday morning, my wife and I went to the supermarket early and waited one hour in line to get in, as part of a second group of 10 persons allowed to go in. I saw that everyone was wearing gloves, masks, and even raincoats for extra protection, as they were keeping their distance.

All of this makes me think of how different life would be for Christians if we took the same measures we take to not catch coronavirus and applied them to sin. When you think of it, if we get sick with coronavirus — and God forbid we do — we might be able to pull through. If we don’t, then the next thing we will witness is the second coming of our Lord. If we “catch” sin and don’t survive it, that's it. It's literally the end of the road. Therefore, for us Christians, sin should be much scarier than the COVID-19 pandemic.

When I was small, my family used to drive from Panamá to Honduras over a tropical mountain known as “El Cerro de la Muerte” (The Hill of Death). It was given that name because it was always foggy, rainy, slippery, and very dangerous. Many people died on that road. In all our travels, in the midst of thick fog and the many difficult situations encountered, God was always with us.

We are living in times of uncertainty, and many things are being said about COVID-19. First, it was supposed to affect just the elderly; now, it seems everyone is in danger. Some say it's a political move, an economic agenda, a new world order conspiracy, the end of the world, the end of times, and others say it's the beginning of the end. Whatever people say, the facts are undeniable and very real. People are getting sick and are dying; the economy has been hit hard; countries are in lockdown; churches are closed; travel is banned; and it’s no more business as usual. Life has changed to what is being called the “new normal.” We are now walking in the unknown fog of the coronavirus.

As Christians, we know time is ticking, and things like this will happen. Even though the situation is serious, we must have faith in God, because faith creates paths where there were none before. Faith brings answers from the Lord at the right time. We must not worry about how we will continue preaching the gospel or how the church will move forward, because faith will make us see things from God's perspective. This will empower us to adapt to the times, using the tools He has given us. Faith will change our language in the face of these difficult situations.

As we move forward day by day, let's not forget that the hand of the Lord has not been shortened. It is extended in our favor to protect us, bless us, and help us. In the same way His mighty hand helped us in the past, it will move today, tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow with miraculous power, and we, His children, shall overcome.

I don’t know what the current COVID-19 future holds. I don’t know when it’s going to end or what life will be like after all this passes. But I do know that God knows all your needs, knows where you are, what you do, what you fear, what makes you nervous and anxious, and He promised that He will take your hand and walk you through it. 

This is an eternal promise for all of us; I know this because it is written in my favorite Bible verse. “For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear; I will help you” (Isa. 41:13, NIV).

No matter what happens in this world, Jesus will come again, and we need to prepare His people for that moment. So, wherever you are, hold on to faith, hold on to Jesus, because our destiny is to live eternally by His side.

Roberto Brown Jr. is an assistant treasurer for the Inter-American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.

The original version of this commentary was posted on the Inter-American Division news site.