Coronavirus crisis: what can we do?
“Why is it happening again? Who’s to blame?”
I’m sure these questions are part of many conversations in Malaysia right now. With the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus dominating the headlines in Malaysia, it’s easy to add one more accusing finger to the blame game.
Perhaps it’s a natural response to a crisis that evokes memories of the SARS crisis in 2003, when the Chinese authorities came under fire for their response to the outbreak that eventually infected more than 8,000 people and killed 800.
At the time of publishing (4 February 2020), the Wuhan coronavirus has affected more than 20,000 people and killed 427. These numbers will unfortunately be outdated by the time you share this article.
Already, people have started criticising the Chinese authorities for not having done enough, and individual citizens of the country for not behaving responsibly.
In addition to the recent influenza outbreak in Malaysia, there have been confirmed coronavirus cases in the country, with the government focusing on bringing Malaysians home from Wuhan.
Such fears and concerns are understandable, given the potential effects that a virus can have on our country’s tourism, economy and business.
But then someone asked me: “Have you prayed for the people of Wuhan?”
I’m ashamed to say that I haven’t really thought about the plight of the residents of this city at the epicentre of the crisis. I’ve been far more concerned about how we in our part of the world will be affected. (Read a Chinese resident’s account about What It’s Like Living In A Ghost Town In Fear)
Perhaps that’s why Paul, when urging Christians to love and care for others, told them: “In humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” (Philippians 2:3–4).
Giving equal or higher priority to the interests of other people means caring for others even when we ourselves may be suffering, or even when we may have something to lose from doing so. Difficult as it is, true love and care is self-sacrificing.
A pastor of a church in Wuhan puts this well in a letter that was published this week. Writing to fellow believers, he says: “Christians are not only to suffer with the people of this city, but we have a responsibility to pray for those in this city who are fearful, and to bring to them the peace of Christ.”
What can we do as Christians in this crisis? Perhaps we can help point people to God and show them what He offers to those who trust in Him even as we battle our fears and concerns of being infected by the Wuhan virus. And we can pray for the people of Wuhan, and all those affected by the outbreak, that they will personally experience:
- The presence of God, who “is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).
- The protection of God, who “will protect him, for he acknowledges my name” (Psalm 91:14)
- The peace of God, which “transcends all understanding [and] will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).
As fellow recipients of God’s presence, protection, and peace, will you join me in praying for the people of Wuhan? —Leslie Koh
Lord, I pray for all those
affected by the outbreak or
worrying about it.
May You reach out to them
and show them Your
presence, protection, and peace.
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