The whole world is reeling from an invisible enemy threatening our sense of security.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 170 nations are infected with the coronavirus, with the United States now leading the number of confirmed cases. Daily routines have been hijacked. Fear has invaded. Finances have fallen. Tens of thousands around the world have died.
It is highly probable that every one of the 195 nations will be accosted by this virus.
But instead of these statistics sending us into a panic, let us look for the invincible Helper in the midst of this invisible enemy.
Providence and Purpose in this Pandemic
Because God is not a god of chance, we can be assured that there is providence and purpose behind this pandemic. What is intended for evil, the Lord will use for good (Genesis 50:20). Therefore, we can “rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying,” for we know that God is at work (Romans 12:12).
Corona in Latin means “crown.” The Coronavirus gained its name because of its crown-like appearance when seen under a microscope. This virus that is piercing the world can point us to the One who was pierced for our transgressions, who bore the crown of thorns for us (Isaiah 53:5).
While no one knows the day or hour of the Lord’s return, the prophet Isaiah’s words strike an uncanny similarity to our reality today:
“The city of chaos is shattered; every house is closed to entry… For this is how it will be on earth among the nations: like a harvested olive tree, like a gleaning grape after harvest” (Isaiah 24:10,13).
The prophet foretells of the emptiness that will accost the whole world. Because of this novel virus, we’ve seen empty schools, empty churches, empty restaurants, empty airplanes, like “a harvested olive tree,” shook barren from this crisis.
This 2,700-year-old passage shows God is not only unsurprised by a crisis like this but has strategized on how to use it for global good.
The Invisible Enemy
The invisible enemy we are fighting really isn’t the virus. The virus is merely the weapon the enemy, Satan, is using to accomplish his ominous mission to kill, steal and destroy (John 10:10). Disease is the dagger he is wielding. While it’s the coronavirus today, it will be a different thief tomorrow.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12).
This enemy travels across state lines, oceans and continents and is no respecter of persons. No one is immune. He has been with us since the beginning of creation, creeping into our hearts, minds, and souls, weakening us individually and collectively.
“How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations!” (Isaiah 14:12).
“Enemy-occupied territory---that is what this world is,” C.S. Lewis explained in Mere Christianity.
"But the very reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the enemy” (1 John 3:8).
“Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us to take part in a great campaign of sabotage,” said Lewis.
As the coronavirus spreads to the ends of the earth, and as the enemy continues to prowl like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour, let us stay alert. Let us pray for the Gospel to spread to every country, city, hospital and home sick from a lack of the Savior (I Peter 5:8).
Let us sabotage the enemy’s plans for harm by proclaiming God’s plans for good.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).
Even in the beginning, after Satan slithered into the Garden coming in the form of a snake, God cursed him so that Eve’s offspring would strike his head even as he strikes our heels. This was the first gospel message, that the enemy would be crushed and God's children would conquer (Genesis 3:15).
The enemy is not winning. Even as the death tolls rise, the enemy is being brought down.
“Yet you, [Satan], shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit” (Isaiah 14:15). “All who knew you are appalled at your fate. You have come to a terrible end, and you will exist no more” (Ezekiel 28:19).
The Invincible Helper
While we have an invisible enemy, we also have an invincible Helper.
It is the Spirit of Christ, who disarmed the enemy and conquered death when He raised Jesus from the dead (Romans 8:11).
This third Person of the Trinity, who indwells us at the moment of salvation, is with us now. He is still Emmanuel. He is defeating this enemy and will defeat him once and for all when Jesus returns on clouds of glory (Mark 13:26, Colossians 2:15).
“And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you” (Romans 16:20).
After His crucifixion and resurrection, just before ascending to heaven, the living Jesus commissioned the disciples (and all of His followers to come) saying:
“All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you.” “And you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be my witnesses … to the ends of the earth" (Matthew 28:19-20, Acts 1:8).
The Holy Spirit is power and enables His Church with power for the name of Jesus.
Power to conceive new life within us (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Power to put to death the deeds of the body (Romans 8:13).
Power to testify that we are God’s children (Romans 8:16).
Power to understand the mystery of the gospel (Ephesians 3:3).
Power to be strengthened from within (Ephesians 3:16).
Power to discern God's truth (John 16:13).
Power to stand firm against the schemes of the enemy (Ephesians 6:11).
Power to conquer evil with good (Romans 12:21).
The coronavirus is not a formidable foe to Jesus. It is to us, but the invincible Helper within us makes us more than victors, even unto death (Romans 8:37).
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14:26).
As a Christian, our response to this crisis should be to pray in faith for this global pandemic to not only cease but bring both physical and spiritual healing to the nations.
It is absolutely possible that God could use a virus killing people around the world to bring every tongue, tribe and nation into a living relationship with Him.
Two thousand years ago, God permitted His barely-formed church to be ravaged, starting with the stoning of a young deacon named Stephen. At the time, it wasn’t obvious how God could redeem what seemed like a decisive knockout. But God used the persecution of His people to scatter the saints to share the good news of Jesus Christ (Acts 8:4).
God turned a horror into glory.
God’s redemptive nature is still the same today. He can use the spreading of a virus to spread the saving gospel message.
“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations…” (Matthew 24:14). “From the ends of the earth we hear songs: The Splendor of the Righteous One” (Isaiah 24:16).
No one knows the day or hour Jesus will return. But we can be sure we are one day closer than the day before. And we can be sure that God has given us the victory through Jesus (I Corinthians 15:57).
Yes, we have an invisible enemy. But we also have an invincible Helper. Thanks be to God!