Health is in God’s Hands

Dear BPCWA worshipper, God has warned that pestilences will be one of the end times signs, “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places” (Matt 24:7). While the world is still reeling from COVID-19, it is now struck by Monkeypox outbreaks in multi-countries, even in Australia. Since pestilences will be on the increase and can affect us personally, how should the Christian respond?

Personal experience. With the number of COVID-19 positive daily cases in the thousands in WA alone, it is quite inevitable, humanly speaking, that many will be affected personally. Gone are the days when Perth was so well “insulated” that we went about maskless and yet did not expect to be infected. But after the borders were opened and regulations relaxed, we not only began to hear colleagues, classmates, friends, and relatives being tested positive, many of us got personally affected. Many of us, me included, were just wondering, humanly speaking, “when would be our turn”. And before you know it, we got tested positive! At every prayer meeting in recent weeks, we announce prayer requests for different individuals or families who have been tested positive. Someone in Sydney told me it had become so common that people just say “Oh, you too, ok, see you after 7 days”. We have seen that the pestilence that God warned of can very well be not just in our State, not just in our church, but even in our family, and perhaps even our very own personal experience.  It is no longer just reading about the end times sign – it is experiencing it first-hand.

Expectations and experiences do not count. One thing that has become evidently clear in the recent months of different people being tested positive, even in our church, is that our expectations and experiences can really be contrary to what actually occurs. At times when I hear of a certain child being tested positive, I get rather concerned because of how weak the child’s health generally had been all long. Yet, the very same child had such mild symptoms that they were almost missed and recovered a day or two after testing positive. Adults who had pre-existing health conditions remained negative while perceived healthier family members tested positive. Even when such an individual got infected almost a week after being a close contact, the pre-existing condition did not result in severe symptoms, but instead recovered faster and better than some who did not have pre-existing conditions. Conversely, some who were known to be healthy and active got infected. And when they fell sick, the less healthy family member did not get infected despite living under the same roof. Unknowingly, an infected person sat next to an elderly person over a meal, both without masks, but yet the elderly was not infected. Then there are those of us who are very careful about what mask we wear, conscientiously wearing them, and minding where we go. Yet we can be infected while those who seem to be less conscious do not get infected. We have witnessed all these in our midst, defying the normal logic of expectations that come from common rational experience.

What counts is God. The key takeaway we must have from what we have witnessed is what really counts is God in this pandemic. Whether we will catch COVID-19 or not does not depend merely on our wearing of masks, washing our hands properly, or what our existing health conditions are. We should not assume that simply because we have a pre-existing condition, we have a greater susceptibility and are weaker. Nor can we assume that simply because we are healthy, we will not succumb to illness. Do not misunderstand me to be saying that human responsibility is not important. They are expected and we have no one to blame except ourselves when we disdain it. The point is, we must realise that we can only do so much. How do we explain what we have witnessed, even in our midst, that defies the normal logic of expectations that come from common experience? The answer is God’s sovereign interventions. It is not just about being healthy ahead of time, how careful we are, or how weak we are all the while. I am not saying that these have no bearing and that we should not bother to maintain good health, careful hygiene, or watch where we go. But again and again, we have seen that there is only so much that we can prepare for or avoid, as we have seen in the many cases we have come across. What lessons should we learn from these recent months?

Lessons to remember.1) Live life responsibly, but do not avoid living well for God. Having witnessed that even having exercised human responsibility, we must realise that whether we will get infected or not is not entirely dependent upon how much we do or how healthy (or sickly) we have been before that. We can still get infected despite it. So, what we must learn is, having performed our human responsibilities, we should not be paralysed with fear and avoid doing God’s known will.  Knowing that it is ultimately God who sovereignly intervenes, let us therefore live actively for God in being part of His work and His people. Moreover, do not fret and live in avoidance of coming to church and of service to God if you or your child is apparently weak in health. God has shown us and we have seen that the weaker ones and the ones with pre-existing health conditions were not necessarily worse off than the healthy ones among us. I am not saying that we should be reckless and not be doing the right things when we are in church. Ultimately, the prophecies of God are not to make us cower in fear but to cause us to live even more for Him. Remember, pestilences will increase. Do we want to end up increasing our avoidance of church and serving Him in doing what we ought to do? If we do not think biblically and clearly, we will end up retreating into a life of passivity and evasion. 2) Desire health for learning about and serving God. Why do we want to avoid infection?  Why do we want health? Should it not be so that we can be serving God and obeying more effectively? I am not saying that if you are not well, you cannot serve God effectively. The Apostle Paul had a thorn in the flesh, which God allowed, and he was highly effective in God’s Hand. The point is that we should be doing what is reasonable to avoid any of the end times pestilences, but not just for the sake of avoiding sickness. It must be for a purpose. And the purpose is to be useful to God in His kingdom’s work and to other believers. So, avoiding pestilence but becoming an introvert is contradictory for the believer.  3) Accept God’s will. Ultimately, the Christian must accept that it is God’s will if after doing all that is our duty, we still get infected. God has His purpose and His timing for all things. The believer should not blame someone for “passing on COVID” to them.  I am not saying then that we do not act responsibly towards others. We make following WA’s COVID-19 regulations an expectation in church. Neither should a believer be discouraged. Remember that God allowed Paul to have a thorn in the flesh for a reason.  4) Lean upon Him for strength, not upon ourselves. If God does allow us to fall prey to pestilence, we must then learn to lean upon Him for strength to continue living well for Him and serving Him. We must not give up. Some side effects may plague us. But when we are weak, then we are made strong in Christ. This means that we must be even more conscious of depending upon Him. That is what makes us stronger because He will work through us. 5) Let it be a reminder of the end times. Each time we hear of infections, or those of us who are going through it, or have recovered, or have recovered and have lingering long COVID effects, we must remember that we are living and experiencing one of the end times signs in our own lives. How it must remind us of the reality and urgency to be living in anticipation of Christ’s sudden Return for us. How it must stir us to cast away any weight that bogs us down spiritually, any besetting sin, and any pursuit of earthly ambitions to spend and be spent for Christ!

Yours in our Lord’s service,