CAN COVID-19 HARM CHRISTIANS?
The question arises because some cite texts like Psalm 91:3, 5-7, 10 as a promise that Christians will not be touched by any sickness or pestilence.
“Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence” (v. 3) “Thou shalt not be afraid... for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee” (vs. 5-7). “There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling” (v. 10).
Some post this text over their door or in their home, as if to protect them. This may be well intentioned, but it borders on superstition. It is good to have Scripture texts in the home or workplace, to remind and encourage us, but these do not give us protection. It is certainly true that God can protect those who trust in Him. When the plagues fell on Egypt the children of Israel were protected. During the Tribulation He will seal and protect the 144,000 Jewish evangelists.
But we should recognize that Psalm 91 does not guarantee that believers will not contract the virus or die. This is part of a larger error, the idea in some circles that Christians, if they have enough faith, cannot be sick. We should remember John 11:3, “Behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.” The Lord can mercifully restore the sick to health, and sometimes does in answer to prayer (Jas. 5:14-15). He healed a great many during His earthly ministry, as a sign that He is the Messiah (Matt. 11:3-5). But the fact is, He does not always see fit to prevent sickness or death. Even medical clinics, pharmacies, hospitals and cemeteries testify that sickness and death are realities. As the Spanish say, "we all die of something."
Christians, and yes, even the Lord’s servants can become sick and even die. Paul left Trophimus sick in Miletum (2 Tim. 4:2). Timothy had frequent infirmities (1 Tim. 5:23). Epaphroditus was “sick nigh unto death” (Phil. 2:27). Paul had a “thorn in the flesh,” (2 Co. 12:7) and the Lord did not remove it but rather taught him to glory in his infirmities (2 Co. 12:9). “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Co. 12:10).
All the believers who lived in times before ours have died of many different causes, and if the Lord doesn’t come first to rapture us, our time will come. But as believers we have the assurance that in the valley of the shadow of death He walks with us (Psa. 23:4).
During this current pandemic, Christians in many countries have been infected and some have died from COVID-19. Just to name a few countries where we know this to be true: Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua, United States and Spain, and there are certainly others. God is faithful, without a doubt, but His faithfulness and mercy do not circumvent all sickness and death, as we should know by now.
What should we do? First and most importantly, trust in the Lord, for our lives and times are in His hands, and we live and serve at His pleasure. If we are confined due to restrictions, we should make every effort to redeem the time instead of wasting it like the lost around us. In addition to work in the home, Scripture reading, study and memorization are excellent uses of time. There are many resources available such as recorded Bible studies in audio or video, for our edification. We can write or call to encourage others, and dedicate more time to prayer.
Secondly, instead of believing that we cannot be infected, we should take all the appropriate measures to prevent it, just as we already do with any other contagious illness. Even when we have a cold, the flu or something like measles or chicken pox we keep our distance from others. How much more should it be so with something as infectious and deadly as COVID-19! Social distancing, conscientious use of masks and care to frequently wash hands and disinfect surfaces are things we all know by now. When someone is infected, quarantine is necessary. To not observe these measures is not a sign of faith, but of ignorance, imprudence and even audacity, as well as lack of brotherly love and consideration of others.
Finally, we should remember the words of Paul, “Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death” (Phil. 1:20). The principle is, live for the Lord, make Him known and glorify Him, in sickness and in health. Even in our death He should also be magnified. To the Romans he wrote: “For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's” (Rom. 14:8).