“Jesus said to him,
“Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’
This is no time to tempt God. The world-wide health crisis is pushing almost everything to extremes. This should come as no surprise. We have been thrown up against our limits. Our fragility and mortality, always lurking in the corners, are now on full display. What do we do?
Most obviously, we should respond with a sober pragmatism and do everything we can to minimize the impact of the crisis. Follow the rules:
1.Stay at home if at all possible.
2. Wash your hands and often.
3. Avoid touching your face.
4. Practice ‘social distancing ‘ – a phrase we will never forget!
5. Cough into your elbow.
These are no nonsense practices that apply equally to all. No religious sensibility of any sort is necessary to see the value in these. And see the value we should.
That brings me to stories I am hearing that describe people who are ignoring these practices because God will protect them. Now, I will be the last person to minimize the absolute importance of trusting God but let’s hold on a minute and think about this.
God has placed us in the world and in the world we operate within the processes of nature. We may wish we could fly like the birds but I don’t recommend jumping off your roof! And I can assure you that if you do, angels will not come to your rescue. The ones who will, if you are still breathing, will be the local EMT’s.
Say your prayers, by all means. There is no better time, in fact, than when the storms are gathering and our frailty is on full display. I recommend praying the Psalms, most of which are laments. But after you have prayed, get up off your knees and get busy doing what you can to assist your family, friends, business associates and neighbors in the practical business of responding to the crisis at hand. There will be plenty of time later to discuss all of this and the thorny questions in relation to God.
But for now, trust God’s word of promise… and wash your hands.
“May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds
in Christ Jesus our Lord.”