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Is the Coronavirus Revealing One of America’s Biggest Idols?

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Is the requirement to socially distance ourselves revealing our collective obsession with and dependence upon information?


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written by

Tré Goins-Phillips

We’re one week into our nationwide “social distancing” and everyone is already tired of it. Several states have ordered full-scale lockdowns. Anxiety is at an all-time high. Our healthcare experts are telling us one thing. Our economic thinkers are telling us another thing. Our eyes are glued to our TV screens and our iPhone notifications. We’re desperate for information.

Medical leaders are telling us lifting restrictions to slow the spread of the coronavirus will overwhelm our hospital systems and jeopardize lives. Financial prognosticators are warning indefinite quarantine will send the global markets into unprecedented economic depression. None of that is good news.

The tension we’re facing is quickly revealing our collective obsession with and dependence upon information. We have an abundance of opinions, each more perplexing than the last. Data is flowing in, but our peace is dwindling.

We have idolized certainty in an uncertain time.

Dan Darling, a vice president for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, tweeted Monday: “The question I’ve stopped asking is, ‘How long?’ And instead, ‘God, what do you want to do in me?’”

This—our journey through the coronavirus pandemic—is the moment faith counts. It’s easy to trust when the sky is bright and the waters are calm. It’s easy to believe when certainty is readily available. But what about now, when our lives have been upended? When the sky is gray and the waters are unsettled?

What we are enduring right now is the “everything” the apostle Paul was talking about in Philippians 4:13. Sitting in a dusty prison cell, he told believers in Philippi, “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” He wasn’t talking about winning a sports game, getting a promotion or acing an exam. A few verses earlier, Paul told us what he was talking about. He said he had “learned how to be content with whatever I have.” That was the “everything” he was facing: finding contentment in the middle of confusion.

Perhaps God is using this season to call us back to Him. Maybe He’s revealing our worship of knowledge—our reflexive need to understand—when Scripture tells us the future is uncertain (James 4:13-17). This is an opportunity to turn back to the Rock.

When our jobs are no longer promised, our health is a mystery, our institutions are floundering and our leaders are fighting a formidable foe, we can find stability in God alone.

The only true resolution to the uncertainty we face today is turning to God, the source of our salvation. Because even when this crisis ends—and it will—there will be others in the future.

So in the meantime, like David wrote in Psalm 62, we must “wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken.”