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Did SARS-CoV-2 originate in a Chinese lab? A spiritual lesson from a tiny virus

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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Did SARS-CoV-2 originate in Chinese lab? A spiritual lesson from a tiny virus
On Jan. 23, 2020, a lab technician equips a centrifuge at the Institute of Virology at the Charit' Berlin Mitte.

China is making headlines for all the wrong reasons today.

US intelligence and national security officials say the United States government is considering the possibility that the novel coronavirus originated in a Chinese laboratory rather than a market, though sources say it is premature to draw any conclusions. 

This is one of several theories being pursued by investigators as they attempt to determine the origin of the coronavirus pandemic. The US does not believe the virus was associated with bioweapons research. 

But intelligence officials are investigating whether the virus originated when someone was infected in a Chinese lab through an accident or poor handling of materials and may have then infected others. 

“Someone had to have known” 

In related news, an Associated Press article notes that the Chinese government waited six crucial days after determining they were facing a pandemic before warning the public. During that time, the city of Wuhan, at the epicenter of the disease, hosted a mass banquet for thousands of people, and millions began traveling through the Lunar New Year. 

By the time President Xi Jinping warned the public on January 20, more than three thousand people had been infected during almost a week of public silence. 

Other experts note that the Chinese government may have waited on warning the public to avoid mass hysteria and that it did act quickly in private during that time. But the Associated Press claims that “China’s rigid controls on information, bureaucratic hurdles and a reluctance to send bad news up the chain of command muffled early warnings.” 

White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx told ABC’s The View yesterday, “I think once this is over, we’ll be able to look back and see, ‘did China and the WHO say and do everything to alert the rest of the world to the nuances of this virus’—because when it first explodes someone had to have known that there was human to human transmission.” 

Pizza delivery worker exposes seventy-two families to the virus 

This tiny virus, wherever and however it originated, has devastated the world in ways I have not experienced in my lifetime. 

There is a spiritual lesson here illustrated by another story making headlines: seventy-two families in India are self-quarantining after receiving a pizza from a delivery worker who tested positive for coronavirus. The boy had been experiencing symptoms for almost three weeks before he was tested on Tuesday.  

Authorities have also quarantined more than a dozen other people who worked with the boy. All who came into contact with him are being monitored daily while he receives treatment at a hospital. The boy’s co-workers have all tested negative, but the restaurant has suspended operations. 

Let’s do some math. The average household size in India is estimated to be 4.9 people. That number times seventy-two families is 352 people. Add the boy’s dozen or more colleagues to the list and we’re past 364 people directly affected by one person. 

Now, add those who would have been served by the restaurant if it were still in operation. And consider the financial consequences to the company and all of its employees now that they are no longer working. 

All of this from one unnamed “pizza delivery boy,” as India’s media described him. 

“There are only two kinds of men” 

These Special Editions are focusing on ways to fight fear with faith. Today, let’s focus on a fear we should feel: the fear of sin. 

I have often repeated a maxim I heard from a preacher many years ago: Sin will always take you further than you wanted to go, keep you longer than you wanted to stay, and cost you more than you wanted to pay. If right now there’s a voice in your mind suggesting that this statement doesn’t apply to you, guess where that voice is coming from. 

The tiny SARS-CoV-2 virus, wherever and however it originated, has affected the world in unprecedented ways. It is proof that what we cannot see can change the world we can. And it reminds us that, as John Donne noted, “no man is an island.” 

Here’s the paradox: the more you are afraid that sin in your life is infecting you and others, the less you need to be afraid. The less you fear such sin, the more you should. 

Reflect upon this observation by Blaise Pascal: “There are only two kinds of men: the righteous who think they are sinners and the sinners who think they are righteous.” 

An antidote to sin 

There is no vaccine that prevents all temptation in this fallen world, but there is an antidote to sin. 

I encourage you to take time regularly for a spiritual inventory. 

  • Set aside a few minutes to be alone with God. 
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to bring to mind anything in your life that displeases your Lord.
  • Then confess all that comes to your thoughts. 
  • Write down on paper what comes to your mind, specifically and honestly. 
  • Confess these sins, one by one, with a repentant heart. 
  • Claim God’s promise to forgive all you confess (1 John 1:9) and forget all he forgives (Isaiah 43:25). 
  • Then burn, shred, or otherwise destroy the paper and claim your Father’s grace. 

Now, ask the Spirit if there is anyone you have infected spiritually, someone from whom you need to seek forgiveness (Matthew 5:23–24). Reach out immediately to anyone he reveals to you, knowing that the longer you wait, the further the contagion will spread. 

Admit your sin and ask their forgiveness (cf. Matthew 18:15). However they respond, you will know that you did all you could to stop the spread of the spiritual virus. 

Doctors do not yet have medical ways to eradicate coronavirus, but the Great Physician has a way to heal the worst virus of all. 

Will you seek his help and hope today?