During our COVID-19 shutdown, Pastor Zekveld plans to provide a personal reflection each weekday.
Faith vs. the Virus
Can faith in God beat the virus?
Hundreds of people gathered for worship this week at Life Tabernacle Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, defying the state’s ban on gatherings over 50.
Pastor Tony Spell and his congregation were not going to allow some ‘dictator law’ to prohibit worship assemblies. Besides, his church claims to have special faith-powers to fight the virus. They distributed ‘anointed handkerchiefs’ with special ‘healing virtues’ to their members. [Fox News, March 19, 2020]
So what about that? Can the power of faith keep the virus away? Who needs to worry about physical contact by meeting together when the Lord is your shield?
I hope that we find such notions not just weird, but offensive. But how then should we understand amazing promises like the one we find in Psalm 91? In Psalm 91, God is speaking of plagues like COVID-19. He promises:
A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.Psalm 91
I don’t know whether Pastor Spell used this verse this way, but many pastors use Psalm 91 to say that if you have enough faith you can ward off the virus or be healed of the disease. One example is a New Zealand “pastor” who declared:
God allows epidemics, pestilence, and famine when people have departed from faith in Him, but for Bible-believing, born-again Christians who pay their tithes God assures them protection from the virus in Psalm 91. [Todd Friel, Wretched Radio, Mar. 9, 2020]New Zealand “pastor”
This is a scandalous abuse of God’s Word! But, again, how should we understand such a promise in light of the current ‘pestilence that stalks in darkness’ (Psalm 91:6)?
Does faith in God make a real difference? Does your Christian faith have the power to fight and destroy this virus? Certainly!
This promise is for all who trust in God, and have taken refuge under the shadow of His mighty eagle’s wings. The plague will destroy many but it will not come near you. In fact, you are so safe and secure from the war and the plague that you will not fear when it comes. (Psalm 91:5-6)
Really? These promises seem too good to be real. And, as we sometimes say with advertising, if it looks too good to be true, it likely is too good to be true. You say, “As good as this promise sounds and feels to me, it surely doesn’t look true for my friend who’s a believer and is in the ICU with COVID-19, and I don’t think he’s going to make it.”
But it is true. It’s true for you, believer. It’s true for every believer. Right now. This thing is not going to take your life away from you – whatever painful, terrible, fatal thing you face. This is not going to steal your future from you. This is not going to destroy your hopes and dreams as a believer. This is not going to take you off the road that leads to perfect glory. This is not going to destroy your life’s investment.
This promise makes sense only when you measure life the way the Bible does – not the way the world does: having this world’s temporary toys and joys and wealth. If you measure God’s promises with a secular tape, they do not add up. They’re a cruel joke.
But if you measure God’s promises the way God views life and safety, then they’re absolutely true and trustworthy. When you understand from God’s true and ultimate perspective that the real life of peace, safety and joy is life lived in the embrace of God, then you know that the virus can’t touch your life.
Nothing can touch the life you have with God. Nothing can touch the love you have in Jesus Christ. Nothing can touch your safety on the road to heaven. Nothing can touch your eternal inheritance.
Even if the stock markets tumble and you lose all your earthly investments, that can’t come near you! That can’t touch your eternal inheritance which is reserved for you in heaven with Jesus.
Dear Christian, faith does not protect your short, earthly life from the virus. It does not replace your need for hand sanitizer and social distancing and whatever precautions you must take to protect your neighbor and yourself.
But faith in God does give you far greater protection than any cleanser or vaccine can. Faith conquers viruses, flus, grief, abuse, even death, because faith joins you to the Mighty Conqueror, Jesus Christ. In Him we are (already now) more than conquerors through Christ who loved us! (Romans 8:37)
So don’t live on your own, far away from God. That’s a sure death even if you never catch the virus, even if you are wealthier than Warren Buffet. But run to the Lord Jesus Christ, and you’re guaranteed life, no matter what hits you in this world.