Few things in life get your attention like the subject of infectious disease. And this is especially true of pandemics (“all people” threatened by illness). It is, of course, natural to experience fear and concern during extraordinary times like this. There is great alarm about the illness and death caused by the coronavirus both in our country and worldwide. And there is also genuine anxiety about how society’s response to this health crisis (sheltering in or lockdown) will affect the world’s economy.

In light of this serious challenge that the world is now facing I offer two reflections that I hope will inspire and encourage you. Both of them are important lessons drawn from history.

  1. Many Christians in church history faced similar health crises with courage and acts of selfless service.

Plagues in ancient Rome, the Middles Ages and Reformation, and in the modern world have caused similar health calamities. Yet often without the advantages of modern science and medicine many Christians acted bravely by loving their neighbor. They cared for the sick and dying even while jeopardizing their own health. Christians established makeshift hospitals, provided hospice care, and set up almshouses to help the sick and suffering. These selfless humanitarian efforts testified to the Christian faith’s deep ethical commitment to valuing human lives. At times it also led to the expansion of Christianity because people took notice of how these believers loved others unconditionally.

May these examples from church history motivate us today to acts of service for others. For example, without endangering anyone’s health we could consider donating blood, checking in (by calling) on the welfare of seniors, and volunteering to go shopping for people who need assistance. We can also seek to help those who are working on the frontlines of healthcare. This crisis can be an opportunity for us to serve others.

2. Good things can come out of times of sheltering in or being locked down because of disease.

The famous scientist Isaac Newton (1643-1727) faced the ominous “Black Death” during his lifetime. This forced him into strict quarantine. Yet he used his downtime prudently in his pursuit of scientific studies. Consider this quote about Newton from History.com:

“In 1665, following an outbreak of the bubonic plague in England, Cambridge University closed its doors, forcing Newton to return home to Woolsthorpe Manor. While sitting in the garden there one day, he saw an apple fall from a tree, providing him with the inspiration to eventually formulate his law of universal gravitation. Newton later relayed the apple story to William Stukeley, who included it in a book, ‘Memoir of Sir Isaac Newton’s Life,’ published in 1752.”

Sheltering in can be challenging and it is made more difficult with the uncertainties surrounding the dreaded coronavirus. But we can follow Newton’s example and seek to use our time prudently and keep our minds focused on things we can control. We can spend more time with family and trust that God will bring good things out of extremely trying times (Romans 8:28).

According to the Christian worldview, God is in sovereign control of what ultimately happens in the world. May this confidence in the Lord’s majesty motivate us in the pursuit of the theological virtues of faith, hope, and love.

May God grant you rest and peace in the midst of this pandemic storm.

Reflections: Your Turn What are your thoughts during this challenging time? Visit Reflections on WordPress to comment with your response.

Check out more from Reasons to Believe @Reasons.org

About The Author

Kenneth R. Samples

I believe deeply that "all truth is God’s truth." That historic affirmation means that when we discover and grasp truth in the world and in life we move closer to its divine Author. This approach relies on the Christian idea of God’s two revelatory books - the metaphorical book of nature and the literal book of Scripture. As an RTB scholar I have a great passion to help people understand and see the truth and relevance of Christianity's truth-claims. My writings and lectures at RTB focus on showing how the great doctrinal truths of the faith (the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Atonement, creation ex nihilo, salvation by grace, etc.) are uniquely compatible with reason. This approach reflects the historic Christian apologetics statement - "faith seeking understanding." I work to help myself and others fulfill Peter's words in 2 Peter 3:18: "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen." As an RTB scholar I have a great passion to help people understand and see the truth and relevance of Christianity's truth-claims. • Biography • Resources • Upcoming Events • Promotional Items Kenneth Richard Samples began voraciously studying Christian philosophy and theology when his thirst for purpose found relief in the Bible. He earned his undergraduate degree in philosophy and social science from Concordia University and his MA in theological studies from Talbot School of Theology. For seven years, Kenneth worked as Senior Research Consultant and Correspondence Editor at the Christian Research Institute (CRI) and regularly cohosted the popular call-in radio program, The Bible Answer Man, with Dr. Walter Martin. As a youth, Kenneth wrestled with "unsettling feelings of meaninglessness and boredom," driving him to seek answers to life's big questions. An encounter with Christian philosophy in Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis led Kenneth to examine the New Testament and "finally believe that Jesus Christ is the divine Son of God, the Lord and Savior of the world." From then on, he pursued an intellectually satisfying faith. Today, as senior research scholar at Reasons to Believe (RTB), Kenneth uses what he's learned to help others find the answers to life's questions. He encourages believers to develop a logically defensible faith and challenges skeptics to engage Christianity at a philosophical level. He is the author of Without a Doubt and A World of Difference, and has contributed to numerous other books, including: Lights in the Sky and Little Green Men, The Cult of the Virgin, and Prophets of the Apocalypse. He has written articles for Christianity Today and The Christian Research Journal, and regularly participates in RTB's podcasts, including Straight Thinking, a podcast dedicated to encouraging Christians to utilize sound reasoning in their apologetics. He also writes for the ministry's daily blog, Today’s New Reason to Believe. An avid speaker and debater, Kenneth has appeared on numerous radio programs such as Voice America Radio, Newsmakers, The Frank Pastore Show, Stand to Reason, White Horse Inn, Talk New York, and Issues Etc., as well as participated in debates and dialogues on topics relating to Christian doctrine and apologetics. He currently lectures for the Master of Arts program in Christian Apologetics at Biola University. Kenneth also teaches adult classes at Christ Reformed Church in Southern California. Over the years Kenneth has held memberships in the American Philosophical Association, the Evangelical Philosophical Society, the Evangelical Theological Society, and the Evangelical Press Association. The son of a decorated World War II veteran, Kenneth is an enthusiastic student of American history, particularly the Civil War and WWII. His favorite Christian thinkers include Athanasius, Augustine, Pascal, and C. S. Lewis. He greatly enjoys the music of the Beatles and is a die-hard Los Angeles Lakers fan. Kenneth lives in Southern California with his wife, Joan, and their three children.

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