Korea Update: Rejecting Worry in the Midst of the Coronavirus Contagion

Life here on the pen during the corona virus contagion has certainly been intriguing. This week USAG Humphreys implemented more stringent controls to access the installation to protect the military community. I found myself working on a rifle range Tuesday, bottled up in traffic outside the gate for four hours Wednesday, working from home Thursday and back on the installation Friday. It’s been a wild ride. 

As I write this post, over 4,800 people in South Korea have been infected. Nearly 30 have died. 

I’ve been meditating on a few different verses and passages of Scripture as I weigh the impact of the virus and its impact on the military community and our Korean friends. The first is Philippians 4:6:

Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 

This verse provides a good reminder of what God wants us to do in difficult circumstances. The natural reaction to stress and hardship is worry. But our Heavenly Father wants us to lean on him. I love Jonathan Edwards’ observation that, “Prayer is the voice of faith.” It’s such a powerful truth, and praying with a thankful heart is the antidote to worry. When we pray, we’re truly putting our faith into practice and releasing our burdens to God the Father. Don’t look past the command to approach God with thanksgiving. This directive is very important. Approaching God with thankfulness helps us reflect on God’s past faithfulness. We remember how He provides and cares for us. We need to thank God for what He’s done for us. In doing so, we embrace humility, and that is the attitude of Christ (Philippians 2:5) God desires for us, as He conforms us to the image of Jesus. 

Another portion of Scripture, God has brought me back to is Psalm 23. In the midst of unsettling times, reflect on the Psalms. 

The Lord is my shepherd;

I have what I need.

He lets me lie down in green pastures;

he leads me beside quiet waters.

He renews my life;

he leads me along the right paths

for his name’s sake.

Even when I go through the darkest valley,

I fear no danger,

for you are with me;

your rod and your staff—they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me

in the presence of my enemies;

you anoint my head with oil;

my cup overflows.

Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me

all the days of my life,

and I will dwell in the house of the Lord

as long as I live.

Verse 5, You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies has really jumped out to me recently. A few years ago in seminary, I read Chaplain Cary Cash’s book, A Table in the Presence. Chaplain Cash (incidentally Johnny Cash’s nephew) chronicled his experience as a Navy chaplain attached to Marines conducting the invasion of Iraq in 2003. It’s a powerful story of God’s faithfulness and work during the chaos of war. It’s a fitting title to the book, because Cash explains how God provided peace through His presence and spiritual revival even as the Marines experienced casualties and setbacks during combat. 

The virus has hit hardest north of us in China and south of us (we live in the Pyeongtaek area in Gyeonggi-do Province) in Daegu on the peninsula. We’ve quite literally been surrounded by our enemy, the coronavirus, here on the pen. Nevertheless, Bethany and I have experienced the same table of blessing despite this enemy around us. We feel God’s presence, and we feel His peace. Our cup overflows, because we see how He’s faithful. 

Maybe we’ll get infected and have to fight through the virus. 

Who among us knows what tomorrow holds? I don’t know, but I know the One who holds tomorrow. And He is faithful. That’s why we shouldn’t worry, but continue praying and bringing our requests to our Heavenly Father with thanksgiving.

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