Friday, March 27, 2020

What do we know?

As it appears that the numbers of corona virus infections increases and the government decreases the number allowed in "non-essential" gatherings, it might be good to remember.  We have no way of knowing exactly how many new infections there really are.  We are charting the number of infections identified without knowing if these are really new or simply existing infections now identified by testing.  We could be overestimating the numbers or underestimating them.  That said, if we have any confidence in the numbers from those countries where the virus first hit, it would appear that it is declining.

It is good to make some comparisons.  In the US, at least 14,000 people have died and 250,000 have already been hospitalized during the 2019-2020 flu season, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 26 million Americans have fallen ill with flu-like symptoms.  Look at those figures with the infections of the corona virus. Coronavirus Cases so far this year: 42,878; deaths: 682; and recovered: 370 (as of mid-March).

The point of this is not to suggest that we should minimize or ignore the threat.  The point of this is to suggest that the panic and hysteria that has caused us to hoard toilet paper and empty store shelves as fast as they can be restocked is also a major problem facing us.  We can meet this threat with common sense (washing hands as we have been directed), with cooperation (looking at the common good and not everyone is on their own), and with faith (Christians should not be panicking even in the face of real threats!).

People of God, this is our time to show the world love does not disappear when threats appear, that the hope within us is not fragile or weak, and that the God who sent His one and only Son to save us will not abandon us in our hour of need.  Why do we we sing those great hymns of faith and gather in the Lord's name?  Is it only for good times or for show?  I am certainly not saying that we should ignore the threat but neither should we ignore the mercy of God and the love that suffered death to give us life.  Whether you find a way to gather with brothers and sisters in Christ in small numbers or shelter in place at home, we are not our own and we are not on our own.  None of us can predict exactly where we are at in this cycle or when it will all end but all of us Christians know to what lengths God has gone to save us and should be comforted by the fact that God's mighty investment in us and in our redemption will not leave us high and dry in the face of this or any other threat.

 "If God Himself Be for Me"  by Paul Gerhardt, 1607-1676

1. If God Himself be for me, I may a host defy;
For when I pray, before me
My foes, confounded, fly.
If Christ, my Head and Master,
Befriend me from above,
What foe or what disaster
Can drive me from His love?

2. This I believe, yea, rather,
Of this I make my boast,
That God is my dear Father,
The Friend who loves me most,
And that, whate'er betide me,
My Savior is at hand
Through stormy seas to guide me
And bring me safe to land.

3. I build on this foundation,
That Jesus and His blood
Alone are my salvation,
The true, eternal good.
Without Him all that pleases
Is valueless on earth;
The gifts I owe to Jesus
Alone my love are worth.

4. My Jesus is my Splendor,
My Sun, my Light, alone;
Were He not my Defender
Before God's awe-full throne,
I never should find favor
And mercy in His sight,
But be destroyed forever
As darkness by the light.

5. He canceled my offenses,
Delivered me from death;
He is the Lord who cleanses
My soul from sin through faith.
In Him I can be cheerful,
Bold, and undaunted aye;
In Him I am not fearful
Of God's great Judgment Day.

6. Naught, naught, can now condemn me
Nor set my hope aside;
Now hell no more can claim me,
Its fury I deride.
No sentence e'er reproves me,
No ill destroys my peace;
For Christ, my Savior, loves me
And shields me with His grace.

7. His Spirit in me dwelleth,
And o'er my mind He reigns.
All sorrow He dispelleth
And soothes away all pains.
He crowns His work with blessing
And helpeth me to cry,
"My Father!" without ceasing,
To Him who dwells on high.

8. And when my soul is lying
Weak, trembling, and opprest,
He pleads with groans and sighing
That cannot be exprest;
But God's quick eye discerns them,
Although they give no sound,
And into language turns them
E'en in the heart's deep ground.

9. To mine His Spirit speaketh
Sweet word of holy cheer,
How God to him that seeketh
For rest is always near
And how He hath erected
A city fair and new,
Where what our faith expected
We evermore shall view.

10. In yonder home doth flourish
My heritage, my lot;
Though here I die and perish,
My heaven shall fail me not.
Though care my life oft saddens
And causeth tears to flow,
The light of Jesus gladdens
And sweetens every woe.

11. Who clings with resolution
To Him whom Satan hates
Must look for persecution;
For him the burden waits
Of mockery, shame, and losses,
Heaped on his blameless head;
A thousand plagues and crosses
Will be his daily bread.

12. From me this is not hidden,
Yet I am not afraid;
I leave my cares, as bidden,
To whom my vows were paid.
Though life and limb it cost me
And everything I won,
Unshaken shall I trust Thee
And cleave to Thee alone.

13. Though earth be rent asunder,
Thou'rt mine eternally;
Not fire nor sword nor thunder
Shall sever me from Thee;
Not hunger, thirst, nor danger,
Not pain nor poverty
Nor mighty princes' anger
Shall ever hinder me.

14. No angel and no gladness,
No throne, no pomp, no show,
No love, no hate, no sadness,
No pain, no depth of woe,
No scheme of man's contrivance,
However small or great,
Shall draw me from Thy guidance
Nor from Thee separate.

15. My heart for joy is springing
And can no more be sad,
'Tis full of mirth and singing,
Sees naught but sunshine glad.
The Sun that cheers my spirit
Is Jesus Christ, my King;
That which I shall inherit
Makes me rejoice and sing.


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