Coronavirus Teaches the ‘Most Important Lesson We Could Possibly Know’
I can’t think of anything that has produced more fear in recent years than the coronavirus. It dominates the headlines and has brought panic to supermarket aisles, as we fight over the remaining rolls of toilet paper.
The way we as a society respond when we are afraid reveals something powerful about ourselves.
In ancient times, when calamity struck, men would turn en masse to the gods or the priests. The gods, they believed, were in control. Catastrophe meant they were unhappy and needed to be appeased.
As humanity entered the Enlightenment, men became less inclined to beseech the gods during times of crisis. Instead, they turned to themselves. Especially in America, this was the age of self-reliance. If a flood, disease or fire hit, they would stoically accept the losses and do whatever they could to rebuild and move on.
Times have again changed. Facing crisis, most men today are once again quick to turn to the gods. Not Zeus or Jupiter. Today, we turn to the government and experts.
We saw this in the United Kingdom last month, when we were hit with unusually heavy flooding. News broadcasts continually insinuated that this was the government’s fault, without explaining exactly how. Locals affected by the flooding appeared on television, explaining that the government wasn’t doing enough to help them.
In the past, victims of flooding may have tried to appease the river gods, or waited for the waters to recede before digging in and trying to repair the damage. Today, the people look toward London, waiting for the government to step in and fix it.
In our modern worship, we believe that our governments can solve anything. Therefore, if something has gone wrong, the government could have solved it but didn’t. It’s their fault. To stop the flooding, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson should have banned plastic bottles, or something.
The same thing is happening with coronavirus. In country after country, men blame the government. The media is full of accusations. Why didn’t we do more here or there? Why did you make this or that cut? Some of this, no doubt, is media bias against certain governments. But I think there’s more going on. The media can only use this tactic because the public accepts the basic assumption that governments can and should fix every problem.
They should fix it by looking to “the experts”—another core part of modern worship. Experts have the solution to all our problems—if only people would listen. But when it comes to coronavirus, the experts can’t give clear answers. Will this get worse? How much worse can it get? What can I do to guarantee I won’t get it? The experts don’t have any good clear answers.
The government can’t fix it, and the experts cannot help. The panic we see in our headlines is society experiencing a crisis of faith.
Maybe this will kill no more than a particularly bad flu. Maybe it will be much worse. But aside from taking common sense steps of quarantine and advocating good hygiene and hand washing, governments and experts won’t have much of an impact on where it goes from here. As China and Iran show, there are things governments can do to make this worse. But they can’t make it better.
The foundations that we trust in are exposed as sand. It would be like the ancients asking their priests, “How can we appease the gods and stop the plague?” only to be told, “No idea; hopefully it will go away soon.” When our normal support structures have failed, we panic.
The cover of our latest print magazine states: “Coronavirus in Prophecy.” Even those who don’t know much about the Bible know that it talks about plagues and pestilence. But the question of whom we trust gets to the heart of why the Bible makes those prophecies. Jeremiah 17:5 states, “Cursed be the man that trusteth in man.” If we look to men to solve our problems—whether in the form of man-made religion, as almost all are, or governments, experts or even our own selves—we’re under a curse. Mankind cannot solve the biggest problems facing it. Only God can.
This is why God sends plagues. “It pains God to know that the suffering is about to get much, much worse,” Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry wrote in his latest Trumpet article. “It grieves Him to consider the diseases and other horrors soon to be visited upon Earth. But it is all part of His plan to teach man the absolute necessity of obeying His law.”
God can solve disease pandemics—and all our problems. Mr. Flurry wrote that soon “Jesus Christ will accomplish what the most brilliant doctors, scientists and other experts have utterly failed to do: He will bring lasting peace and perfect health to all men, women and children.” But to do that, we must invest our trust in Him. When He says, This action is causing you to be miserable, stop doing it, we must trust and obey Him.
The Bible says that disease pandemics will get worse in order to stop our looking to men—to teach us that only God has the solutions.
“God is teaching men even as they rebel,” writes Mr. Flurry in his free booklet Daniel Unlocks Revelation. “They are learning that man cannot rule himself—only God can bring men peace, prosperity, happiness and joy.” God rules, and man cannot. Mr. Flurry called that lesson “the greatest lesson mankind could possibly learn.” And God is teaching us that lesson, right now, through the coronavirus.