Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, has been diagnosed with coronavirus. His wife has reportedly tested negative for the virus.
An announcement stated that the prince “has been displaying mild symptoms but otherwise remains in good health and has been working from home throughout the last few days as usual.” It added, “It is not possible to ascertain from whom the Prince caught the virus owing to the high number of engagements he carried out in his public role during recent weeks.”
In other news, Hillsong NYC pastor Carl Lentz confirmed that he has tested positive for COVID-19. The virus killed playwright Terrence McNally, retired New York Times reporter Alan Finder, and Dezann Romain, age thirty-six, a school principal from Brooklyn. A teenager in Lancaster, California, may be the first minor to die from coronavirus in the US. Former Texas A&M basketball star David Edwards, age forty-eight, died from complications of the virus.
Of course, coronavirus is not the only mortality-related subject in the news. Kenny Rogers’ death reminds us that celebrities are mortal. Rep. Mark DeSaulnier fell and fractured a rib on a run, then developed pneumonia and remains in critical condition. He has tested negative for coronavirus.
The problem is, it’s human nature to think that what happens to others is less likely to happen to us. Psychologists call this “optimistic bias.” It describes people who think they’re at less risk of having a stroke or getting divorced. Smokers know that smoking is dangerous, but many think they’re less likely than other smokers to get lung cancer.
One of Satan’s most effective schemes
These Special Editions are intended to speak to breaking news with a “fear not” or other word of assurance from Scripture. Today, let’s consider a less-obvious fear we should confront.
Put succinctly: Our greatest fear should not be the fear of death, but the fear that we are not afraid of it.
One of the most dangerous aspects of leprosy is that it can produce nerve damage that leads to a loss of feeling. As a result, a person with leprosy may not feel pain when their hands, feet, or legs are cut, burned, or otherwise injured.
The same can happen to us spiritually.
As I have noted previously, our parents and grandparents lived with polio, smallpox, and world wars. In addition, there was a day when far more people died at home than at a hospital. Today, many younger people can live much of their lives without seeing someone else die.
One of Satan’s most effective schemes in our culture is to use our relative distance from death to dull us to its reality in our lives. He does not want us preparing for eternity until it is here. He wants lost people to put off making a decision about Christ until it is too late. He wants Christians to become complacent in their faith and ministry until their lives are over.
Thus, one of the ways God may be redeeming the coronavirus pandemic is by using it to remind us that “our days on earth are a shadow” (Job 8:9).
As C. S. Lewis noted with regard to World War II, “The only reason why cancer at sixty or paralysis at seventy-five do not bother us is that we forget them. War makes death real to us, and that would have been regarded as one of its blessings by most of the great Christians of the past. They thought it good for us to be always aware of our mortality. I am inclined to think they were right.”
He adds: “If we thought we were building up a heaven on earth, if we looked for something that would turn the present world from a place of pilgrimage into a permanent city satisfying the soul of man, we [are now] disillusioned, and not a moment too soon.”
‘The four most welcome words in the Bible’
Two biblical principles follow.
One: Mortality is real and eternity beckons.
The psalmist said to the most powerful people of his day, “Like men you shall die, and fall like any prince” (Psalm 82:7). Thus we need to be sure we are the children of God.
“Now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2). Living for eternity is the best way to live today.
Two: God is with us in this life and the next.
Jesus assured his disciples, “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” (John 14:3).
In his email devotional this morning, Max Lucado wrote: “Everything is changing! Flight schedules are changing. The economy is changing. The school schedule is changing. Changes, everywhere.
“But what hasn’t changed? God’s love for us. The four most welcome words in the Bible are God is for us. GOD is for us—the unchanging Creator is FOR us. His love for us is constant and unchanging. He’s not plotting to take us down. He wants to build us up. He hasn’t turned away from us. He has turned toward us and is inviting us to run to him for peace and strength.”
God is looking at you right now.
Are you looking to him?