I am, by nature, optimistic. Ask the people who know me best, and they’d all agree I tend to find the sunniest take on nearly everything, almost to the point of annoyance. But in this strange, uncertain season we are experiencing as the coronavirus ravages our communities and countries, I have been gripped, at various times, by palpable terror.
One night in particular, I read a dire, worst-case scenario projection right before I went to bed and found I couldn’t sleep. I tossed and turned and prayed all night, unable to find peace.
Academically, I know all the reassurances I’ve often given people in times like these. I can quote the psalms and other passages that speak of the goodness of God, His sovereignty, His power over creation. Still, fear sits in the doorway of my heart like an uninvited guest, refusing to grant peace entrance.
On some level, this is a perfectly natural response. A worldwide unstoppable pandemic is the kind of thing humans have feared since the beginning. In the Scriptures, plagues are often a part of God’s package of judgments against heathen nations or ways of chastening His own people. Faithful Bible students today avoid making those direct connections to what is happening now, but plagues are among the most severe kind of natural occurrence. And throughout history, we’ve read where pestilences wiped out entire civilizations. There is a reason we say “avoid it like the plague” about activities we hate. The dread of pandemics is a real and important fear.