According to Johns Hopkins University and Medicine center, presently, as I write, there are 127,863 confirmed cases of the heinous Coronavirus COVID-19. Currently, COVID-19 has claimed 4,718 lives globally. Yet, we must not forget that there have been 68,310 who have recovered from COVID-19.
By far, the highest concentration of this dreaded virus still centers in China with a present count of 80,932 cases. Yet again, to put into perspective the reality of this pandemic, we must realize that there have already been 50,318 who have recovered in China.
I share all of this to say that we must be careful in how we respond to this present global crisis. Every life is precious, and we must not throw caution to the wind, but we must also not allow fear and hysteria to grip us and dictate how we respond.
At the moment, the primary recommendation seems to be that of quarantine. Amid the modern medical movement, it is incredible that the method implemented to stop the spread of a global virus is an ancient prescription found in the Bible. It can be found in the book of Leviticus 13:45-46 which reads,
Leviticus 13:45-46″As for the leper who has the infection, his clothes shall be torn, and the hair of his head shall be uncovered, and he shall cover his mustache and cry, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ 46 “He shall remain unclean all the days during which he has the infection; he is unclean. He shall live alone; his dwelling shall be outside the camp.”(Emphasis mine) (NASB)
God prescribed quarantine in the Old Testament Law for those who were infected with leprosy. While they did not understand microbiology in the day of Moses, they could observe the fact of leprosy being contagious. Thus, by instituting quarantine, they could isolate those who had it and stop the spread.
In 1873 a physician by the name of Dr. Armauer Hansen discovered the reality of why Leviticus 13:45-46 was the viable option to keep leprosy from spreading. He looked through a microscope at a slide from a patient who had contracted leprosy, and there he saw tiny red dots of leprosy bacteria. Later it was learned that leprosy bacteria could live in the nose, and a simple sneeze could spread to all of those around the ailing person.
Three thousand five hundred years after God prescribed the Old Testament Law to Moses and the Israelites, the medical science behind its brilliance was discovered by man. So, there is no wonder why quarantine is recommended today for the COVID-19 pandemic. It is a contagion that must not be overlooked, but also that must not provoke overreacting.
Two extremes seem to be prevailing among current reactions to COVID-19. First, there are those who succumb to the extreme of complete panic and hysteria, where fear provokes drastic measures of stockpiling. The other extreme is the complete disregard for caution and thoughtful preparation. This should not be surprising to us because this seems to be the reaction of humanity in every epoch and era of time.
So, how should one respond to such a global crisis that has impacted daily life and saturated the media? While I do not claim to have any great wisdom or medical knowledge that would or should be exalted above those we hear, I do want to offer a few thoughts that perhaps will help bring balance to the reactions we presently are observing.
Let me begin simply by saying that my personal approach to this pandemic has been to be cautious and careful but not fearful. I do not want to allow fear to captivate my mind and provoke me to think more of this than I should. On the other hand, I do not want to react with carelessness, as if this has not gripped the world.
As I evaluate what I read, hear, and receive about COVID-19, I am attentive to the fact of the fragility of life. While medicine has given us great stride in health and vitality, the reality is that God is still the one in whom we live and move and have our being. None of this is happening without God knowing; however, perhaps what we are realizing is just how weak we are as humanity. Perhaps, we must pause to remember that God is Creator and Sustainer and that we cannot move forward without Him.
I think what grieves me the most concerning this present predicament is the eternity at stake. Nearly three-quarters of all deaths thus far are represented in China. While I know there has been a thriving revival in the country; I know that the vast majority is still plagued with lostness. I wonder of what percentage of those who have died slipped out into eternity without Christ. This is where the pandemic of COVID-19 is brought into perspective for me. We must have a renewed sense of urgency for the sake of people’s eternity. We must pray for those who will become infected, die, and be ushered into eternity without Christ. We must be willing, where we are, to have an urgency to tell others that this life is temporal. We will all die one way or another, but after this is the judgment. So, we must put the Gospel at the forefront!
While I am an avid sports fan and I struggle to gain insight into all of the decision making of canceling games, events, and activities, I think that the more important subject of the day is the fact that life is fragile and the Gospel is needed. While we struggle with a virus that impacts the physical body, let us not forget about the disease that plagues the soul, sin. Let us be reminded as doctors strive to produce a vaccine that will help with COVID-19 that we already have a cure for sin; His name is Jesus!
In the words of another, “Life is short, death is sure; sin the cause, Christ the cure.” Soli Deo Gloria!
-Dr. Travis W. Farris