The coronavirus has flipped the world upside down in just a couple weeks. It’s reaching every corner of the world, and the number of infections has grown large enough to create this pandemic that we’re surrounded by every day.
I don’t want to add to any unnecessary chaos caused by the massive amount of media influence on the issue. But I don’t want to ignore the dangers of the virus either. While I certainly can’t offer any medical secrets about the virus, we all have learned how it affects people, particularly senior citizens and those with compromised immune systems or chronic illnesses.
A World of Worry
Perhaps the precautions we’re taking and the panic produced by overexposure to virus news goes too far, perhaps it doesn’t. But the reality is, regardless of how dangerous the virus is or is not, it’s affecting our whole world right now. Plans have been canceled, habits have been changed, isolation has been enforced, nations have turned their backs on each other, and people have been cut off from each other. Many of these circumstances are meant to curb the spread of the virus, but they’ve also added up to a pretty dismal social climate. Simply put, it’s a sad time all across the world.
It’s for times like these that Jesus told His disciples how to manage such worries. Take a walk with me, if you will, through one of the most troubling nights in human history from the words of Jesus.
During the Last Supper, Jesus carried a heavy burden. He knew that one of His 12 apostles, His most trusted companions in His ministry, would shortly betray Him. He knew He was only hours away from His trial, public humiliation, beating, and death.
His disciples needed to be prepared, too, but Jesus knew the burden would be too heavy for them to fully bear. So with all the peace and comfort anyone could ever give, He revealed the truth to the disciples. He first outed Judas as His betrayer while gently allowing him to leave (Jn. 13:26–27, 30). He then predicted Peter’s denial of Himself (v. 38), indicating the trouble to come.
Yet Jesus didn’t leave His apostles panicking in fear of the future. Along with the warning of the dark day ahead, He offered hope for the remainder of their lives on Earth and in eternity. Take a look at His words in John 14:1–4:
Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.
How comforting it must have been for the apostles to know the eternal glory awaiting them! When your life as you know it is about to change and be filled with new hardships, there’s nothing better than knowing you have a home with your Heavenly Father. Promised to all believers, this assurance gives us hope to hold on to in our current crisis.
But it wasn’t just the promise of heaven that Jesus shared to strengthen His apostles. It was the Holy Spirit, the Helper He would soon send, that would make their earthly lives at peace as well. Jesus promised that though He would soon leave them, He wouldn’t leave them alone. Rather He would leave them with another member of the Trinity: “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” (v. 26).
While skepticism mounts and trust is nowhere to be seen, may we who love Jesus continue to demonstrate His goodness through our love for others.
Jesus shared this hope with His apostles, and we can reap the rewards today, too, as followers of Him. Upon receiving Him as Lord and Savior, anyone can spend eternity with Him, as He continued in John 14:6: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” We can find guidance and comfort in our daily lives because of the Spirit He has offered.
The words Jesus left His apostles with in John 14:27–28 were surely of great comfort to them as they are to us today:
Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. You have heard Me say to you, ‘I am going away and coming back to you.’ If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said, ‘I am going to the Father,’ for My Father is greater than I.
He knew that His apostles needed peace more than anything as they prepared for His death. By leaving them with these comforting words, He left us with a lasting reminder of the peace He offers to the hearts of everyone who accepts Him.
Love One Another
As we struggle with the coronavirus and the ripple effects it’s caused throughout the world, nothing quite comforts the soul like Jesus’ peace does. Fear and confusion now threaten to dominate our every moment, yet that’s not how God intends for us to live regardless of our situation. He has offered peace for today and hope for the future.
Just moments before Jesus spoke of leaving His peace with believers, He left His apostles and believers today with a practical word of encouragement concerning our conduct: “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (13:35).
Let’s not forget this key aspect of our behavior in a coronavirus-crazed world. It’s easy to associate love with Jesus and how we should be living daily. Yet when a crisis comes around, we collectively tend to throw out the rulebook and live by whatever feels right, usually at the expense of love. But love is needed now more than ever! While skepticism mounts and trust is nowhere to be seen, may we who love Jesus continue to demonstrate His goodness through our love for others. We can check on our friends and family with phone or video calls. We can run errands for our elderly friends who cannot go out. We can make memories and enjoy quality time with our families and others we live with. And as always, we can encourage all with the Word of God, sharing Scripture with those we may encounter while out on an errand run or at the hospital or by having a devotional time in the Word as a household.
Don’t Be Afraid!
With this perspective, you can understand that fearing this virus will do us no good. Everything that is happening and will continue to happen will do so according to God’s will. This is nothing that the Lord can’t use to bring souls to Himself and strengthen believers worldwide.
Just moments later on the night Jesus was betrayed, He left the apostles with this word of encouragement that speaks to us now: “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (16:33). Trust Him as you remember to live with peace and joy!