The coronavirus outbreak in China has the world concerned. The reported number of cases increases daily. Nearly 3,000 additional cases were reported at the end of the day on February 3, bringing the total number of people affected at that time to more than 20,000. The number of deaths is 426. The virus is fast-moving and has already spread to 25 countries. Experts say a global pandemic is possible.
Many people in China are fearful, but a letter from a pastor in Wuhan, China, reveals a different way to deal with the situation. He wrote the following letter to his congregation:
Brothers and sisters — peace!
We have gathered masks and foodstuffs and have ventured outdoors as little as possible. The rest we must place in the Lord’s hands.
Trust in the Lord’s promises, that His thoughts toward us are of peace, and not evil (Jeremiah 29:11), and he allows a time of testing, not to destroy us, but to establish us. Therefore, Christians are not only to suffer with the people of this city, but we have a responsibility to pray for the fearful and to bring to them the peace of Christ.
First, seek the peace of Christ to reign in your hearts (Hebrews 3:15). Christ has already given us His peace. His peace is not to remove us from disaster and death, but rather to give us peace in the midst of disaster and death. Christ has already overcome these things (John 14:27; 16:33). We must believe in the gospel of peace (Philippians 6:15).
Why do only Christians have this peace? Jehovah says: the wicked have no peace (Is. 48:22). We were all sinners, but Christ, because of faith, took our penalty, and gave us his peace. Therefore Paul says, who can bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. (Romans 8:33). Christians may with the world face the same tribulations. Such tribulations are no longer punishment, but a new opportunity to grow nearer to the Almighty, to purify our souls, an opportunity to proclaim the gospel.
As Paul firmly believed, who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?… In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loves us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:35–39).
Wuhan’s pestilence cannot separate us from the love of Christ. Christ is with us as we face the pestilence in this city. The pestilence cannot harm us. If we die in the pestilence, it is an opportunity to witness to Christ, and even more to enter into His glory.
Thus, my brothers and sisters, I encourage you to be strong in Christ’s love. Our Lord Jesus through faith experienced an incomparable suffering of death, yet God raised him from the dead, and had him sit at His right hand. (Acts 2:32–36)
If in reading these truths you still have no peace, I encourage you to diligently read and reread the above scripture and call on the Lord to give you insight, until the peace of Christ reigns in your hearts. You should certainly know that this is not just a visible disaster, but even more it is a spiritual struggle, and you should firstly be waging battle for your heart, and secondarily battle for the soul of this city.
May we like Lot be grieved over all those in this city (1 Peter 2:7), and like Abraham who earnestly prayed for Sodom (Genesis 18:23–33). You see, Jonah with difficulty proclaimed the gospel to Nineveh, and Nineveh repented and was saved. We are this city’s Abraham and Jonah, we must pray for God’s mercy upon this city, and seek its peace.
I believe we are to seek peace for this city, seek peace for those who are afflicted with this illness, seek peace for the medical personnel struggling on the front lines, seek peace for every government official at every level, and seek peace for all the people of Wuhan! Through cyber networks we can guide and comfort our friends and loved ones with the gospel, reminding them that our lives are not in our own hands, and encourage them to entrust their lives to God who is faithful and true.
The past few days I have received many inquiries from foreign pastors who want to serve us and the people in Wuhan. I’ve asked them to turn their eyes upon Jesus and pray in His name.
Good-hearted people are serving this city, especially the medical personnel who are risking their own lives. If they can take on such worldly responsibilities, how can we not more readily take on spiritual responsibilities!
If you do not feel a responsibility to pray, ask the Lord for a loving soul, an earnestly prayerful heart. If you are not crying, ask the Lord for tears. Because we surely know that only through the hope of the Lord’s mercy will this city be saved.
Let us be praying for this pastor, his flock, and the people of Wuhan. May we learn from his perspective of faithfulness and trust in God’s ultimate good plan for His people!
*Photo by Peggy and Marco Lachmann-Anke on Pixabay