When our girls were little and the flu-cold season rolled around, they would often come home from school sick. Typically we would quarantine them in their rooms so they didn’t contaminate others, but I would break the rules and sit with them or hold them and they would say, “Daddy, aren’t you afraid of getting sick?” to which I would flex my muscles and say, “No! I’m Iron Man; I don’t get sick.” And honestly, I kind of believed that. I figured I exercised and ate right so my body was immune, and I was…until I wasn’t.
I picked up a sickness one time. I don’t know if it was the flu but it was bad. I felt awful, sick, exhausted. The family would pass the bedroom periodically and ask from the doorway, “How’s Iron Man doing?” I would grunt and throw a pillow at the door. You could say I had to accept my humanity. We all do when it comes to viruses.
No one is immune from an unseen enemy. There is no way to know who has it and by the time we find out it’s too late. A disease like this spreads through overconfidence and casual response. As I think about it I find a lot of similarity between the coronavirus and faith. Both are unseen. Both spread because they are passed along. They have to be caught. The way you know one has caught it is the impact you see in the person. The reality of having “it,” becomes more obvious if it is allowed to grow.
But the results of that growth are where the two become widely divergent. On one hand a deadly disease obviously works to deplete life. Faith seeks to give life. Jesus once had a conversation with Nicodemus about the kind of faith that makes a person feel born again, fresh, as if life was starting all over. Nicodemus struggled to understand this. How can you see or know such a reality? Jesus said it is like the wind. You can’t see it, but its presence is felt; you see the impact it has on other objects. Such is faith.
Well, this is a time for faith to be sure. A lot of uncertainty is spreading these days. Even if we aren’t overly worried about getting the coronavirus ourselves, a lot of us are concerned about its impact. What will happen with my schooling? How am I going to work and care for kids at home? Could this affect my employment? What will happen to my retirement with another stock market plunge? No one is immune right now.
But for people of faith this is a time for faith. We have something else inside of us. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) Obviously that doesn’t mean Jesus removes threats to our world. The belief in the sovereignty of God doesn’t eliminate the fallen reality of our world. But that sovereignty means believing that God is always overcoming. And more than overcoming, God is using. God uses viruses and diseases to work in overcoming the world’s problems.
Working in France in World War I a doctor named Alexander Fleming watched soldiers die of simple infections. He felt the causes of these deaths were preventable if only he could find the answer. He set about studying bacterial infections and quite by accident discovered what would become known as penicillin. In World War I, 18% of fallen soldiers died of pneumonia. By World War II that number was less than 1%. Infection and even war was the path for one of the most life-saving discoveries in history.
Is what we are going through right now bad? No doubt about it! But people of faith believe God is at work. We can’t see it. We can only trust it, and look for the signs of God’s work. “The wind blows where it wills. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
Keep the faith!
I won’t see you Sunday, but I hope you’ll see me!