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I'm Not a Doctor

I don’t feel the need to preach an entire message about this, but I do feel a responsibility to say a few words about the general Christian response to the public health crisis we are facing.

Some are fearful. Some are calm.

Others are skeptical about the entire matter and suggest that it’s all an opportunistic media and political overreaction to something akin to a common cold.

I’m not a doctor. I have no expertise in the matters of public health—a trait I share with almost all of you. A little humility is probably in order for all of us. We are responding to matters beyond our ability. We really aren’t in a position to make independent, informed judgments about the nature of the threat.

There are perhaps three matters that I think point us to respect and cooperate with what our authorities are mandating and requesting.

First, regardless of their motives, these are the authorities that God has put over us. Their jurisdiction includes matters of public health. We are to submit to them so long as they are not commanding us to sin against God (Romans 13:1-7; Titus 3:1-2). We do not have the biblical prerogative to second guess their judgment and submit only if we agree.

Second, on a practical level, I find it particularly compelling that there is a bipartisan consensus that we are facing a severe public health threat.

For example, here in the Midwest, the Kentucky governor (a Democrat) and the Ohio governor (a Republican) are taking similarly drastic interventions. The U.S. House passed a relief measure by an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote.

Further, academic, business, and athletic leaders have almost unanimously cancelled their events in decisions that were greatly against their financial self-interest. That is contrary to normal human motivation. That tells me that those who are closest to the actionable intelligence on the threat are seeing it the same way and responding dramatically.

Shall we really think that we, in our living rooms, have a superior individual judgment that surpasses all of theirs?

Humility, my friends.

But is this perhaps just a matter to embarrass our president?

Maybe, maybe not. When it comes to the secular media, I certainly have little confidence in their integrity.

But putting the media aside, if this is an effort to embarrass the president, Mr. Trump is in on the effort to undermine Mr. Trump. He has closed down air travel from Europe and taken numerous other measures in the past week that give the impression of a genuine crisis at hand.

At some point, I simply have to meet such conspiratorial skepticism about the crisis with a greater skepticism of my own that says, “No, thank you.”

One of the primary issues, as I understand it, is that the social distancing the authorities are implementing is not primarily designed to save the lives of everyone exposed. All agree that most people will have mild symptoms.

The problem is that a widespread outbreak will overwhelm the medical providers and facilities just by the small percentage of patients that do need critical care. Even 1-2% of several million, if they all come at once, is an impossible health care task in any given region. And God help that area where the doctors and nurses themselves get sick at such a time.

Third: yes, there are all kinds of contingencies and future implications to this. Even if this is a genuine crisis, it will probably be cited in the future as precedent for action that is not truly necessary.

We’ll have to cross that bridge when we come to it.

For now, it’s enough for a Christian to remember this. God has appointed the authorities we now have and He sovereignly, wisely, and lovingly directs all their actions to accomplished His predetermined purpose (Proverbs 21:1; Romans 8:28; Ephesians 1:11).

We don’t know how long this will last.

We don’t know what the long-term effects will be.

We don’t know whether some may be abusing their position to take advantage.

There’s no way to know those things and it wouldn’t matter if we did.

Events have overtaken us all and we are not in control of them.

But I hope that you will join with me in looking to the great God of the Bible, who alone is over all, and trust Him for whatever hidden purposes He is working out through this pandemic.

Christian, nothing can separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. In the end, that’s enough and it’s all that ultimately matters.

These verses have personally gotten me through far worse than this, and I commend them to you as well:

16 I heard and my inward parts trembled, At the sound my lips quivered. Decay enters my bones, And in my place I tremble. Because I must wait quietly for the day of distress, For the people to arise who will invade us.
17 Though the fig tree should not blossom And there be no fruit on the vines, Though the yield of the olive should fail And the fields produce no food, Though the flock should be cut off from the fold And there be no cattle in the stalls,
18 Yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation (Habakkuk 3:16-18).

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