Today, I felt led to take a quick break from the study in Romans to look at the reaction to the recent corona virus situation.
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4–7, ESV)
I was just in a local grocery store to see it for myself. Yes, all the toilet paper is gone. You have to ask yourself, “Has everyone gone mad?” What does toilet paper have to do with the corona virus outbreak? What we see is a result of panic, which is an offshoot from anxiety or fear. Panic will cause people to respond in an irresponsible and illogical manner. And yes, panic can cost lives.
The Scriptures tell us how to respond to adverse situations. We are definitely not to panic. In Philippians we read a passage that Paul wrote while awaiting trial in a Roman prison. He was likely to be executed. In the midst of this he tells us to do more than just chill out. He gives us practical advice.
Phil 4:4 – First, in the midst of adverse circumstances he commands us to “Rejoice in the Lord always.” He repeats this, “and again I will say rejoice.” As believers, we are to be exceedingly glad all the time. While we may not be happy with the uncomfortable circumstances that often come our way, we are to rejoice in our eternal relationship with Christ. For us who believe, He is our joy and hope.
Phil 4:5 – Second, we are to let our “reasonableness be known to everyone.” Reasonableness is a strange word for us today. The word, “reasonableness,” epieikes has the thought of being suitable, equitable, mild, gentle, forbearing, gracious. We are to let our others see a different type of response to the situations. Rather than harshness, panic, or selfishness, we are to allow a calm, joyful and gracious disposition be seen by others. We can only do this if we truly believe that “The Lord is at hand.” He is omnipresent. He has never left us. He, the omnipotent Lord is with us right in the midst of every circumstance.
Phil 4:6 – Third, Paul commands, “do not be anxious about anything.” We are not to fret or worry about what is happening. As a retired person, I realize that the financial markets are taking a hit and so is my retirement fund. There is a temptation to be anxious. However, as I look at the past I remember being at some very low financial points. Yet, He has never let me down. Instead of being anxious, Paul commands us to pray to God “with thanksgiving” How do we do this? We do it by faith, understanding that He the omnipotent and omniscient is sovereign over our lives, He is in complete control, and that He will work all this out for His glory.
Phil 4:7 – If we work this out, Paul states that “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard you hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” I have used this formula in the past and it will work. However, often when we experience that peace, we may inexplicably find ourselves fretting over the same things once again hours or days later. In this case, we must remind ourselves of these Paul’s exhortation and repeat the process until peace fills our hearts once again.