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Christians, keep coronavirus death toll in perspective

As empty shelves appear in our social media feeds and in our local retailers, it’s easy to sense the apprehension and fear surrounding the threat of the coronavirus. Knowing how many lives it has taken, how quickly it has taken them, the fact that there is no vaccine and the seeming inability to stop the virus has put many in a state of uneasiness. However, is it really as bad as it seems? How should Christians respond?

This transmission electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S. Virus particles are shown emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab. The spikes on the outer edge of the virus particles give coronaviruses their name, crown-like.
This transmission electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S. Virus particles are shown emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab. The spikes on the outer edge of the virus particles give coronaviruses their name, crown-like. | NIAID-RML

At least 93,126 cases have been confirmed, with 3,198 deaths worldwide. In the US, there are over 100 cases, and at least 9 have died. But, let’s take a deeper look at the facts. Who is likely to pass away from this new virus?

A Business Insider chart shows how likely it is someone would pass away from the virus at different age brackets. A .2% chance is recorded for those ages 10 through 29, and the chances increase to .4% in ages 40 to 49. Then, chances increase, with a 14.8% chance in ages 80 or older. But that’s for those who contract the virus.

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A video from the WHO described the differences between the flu and the coronavirus. With the coronavirus, there’s a 3.4% chance of death, but with the flu, it’s less than 1%. That’s because more treatments are available for the flu and more people have built up an immunity to it. Still, the speaker shared some encouraging news that the coronavirus doesn’t transmit as effectively as the flu and containment is possible. China has seen a slowdown in new cases, the lowest since the outbreak began. 

Keeping perspective

Though the threat of the coronavirus seems ominous, (mostly because it is unknown), it’s important to keep things in perspective. There are so many more people who die daily from ailments with which we are more familiar. Seventy-four percent of all deaths arise from the 10 most common causes below.

Consider these causes of death annually in the US:

  • Heart disease: 647,000
  • Cancer: 599,108
  • Unintentional injuries: 169,936
  • Chronic lower respiratory disease: 160,201
  • Stroke: 146,383
  • Alzheimer’s: 121,404
  • Diabetes: 83,564
  • Flu & pneumonia: 55,627
  • Kidney disease: 50,633
  • Suicide: 47,173

Approximately 7,452 people die in the US every single day. With these kinds of numbers, it’s far more likely you’d be taken by one of these above causes. In fact, with 327 million people living in the US, you’re more likely to win the lottery than die from the coronavirus!

But, this news of the coronavirus has certainly struck a nerve. Thankfully, as Christians, we know where we’ll go when we die. (Acts 2:21, Matthew 7:21, John 14:3, Luke 6:35, Luke 10:20, Acts 7:55) Therefore, we don’t need to fear tomorrow! But for the unbeliever, that future isn’t so assured. If there were any time to make sure you were right with God, our circumstances now make a good reminder.

But as Christians, it’s so important to walk in faith versus fear. The Bible exhorts us over and over to not be afraid:

“Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” -Matthew 10:28

“So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” -Romans 8:15

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7

“Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.” -1 John 4:18

Important takeaways from the coronavirus threat:

  • Stay in faith: “He who is in me is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4)
  • Pray: Pray that our government leaders would be wise, that people would heal and that the coronovirus would be contained, then eradicated.
  • Be wise: It’s ok to be stocked with supplies, but remember that God is ultimately our Provider and the one in whom we put our trust.
  • Stay healthy: The CDC recommendation right now is to keep yourself healthy and practice good hygiene. Drink fluids, get enough sleep, avoid stress, and wash your hands often with warm water and soap. Avoid contact with sick people.

No matter if we live or die or by what means we die, our lives are in God’s hands. Eternity is long, and life is short. If you haven’t committed your life to Christ, do so now! We never know when we will meet our end.

Let’s remember we are to be a light in the world. Keep your love on, shine your light of faith, and let’s pray in faith that the coronavirus, as well as other threats, would be eradicated for good.

If you’ve never trusted Jesus as your personal Savior and you’d like to, pray this prayer: “Lord Jesus, I confess my sins and ask for your forgiveness. Please come into my heart as my Lord and Savior. Take complete control of my life and help me to walk in Your footsteps daily by the power of the Holy Spirit. Thank you Lord for saving me and for answering my prayer. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

Charis Brown is the founder of Prism Ministries and author of the daily devotional TGIF, Today God Is First Next Gen. She lives with her husband and cat near Atlanta, GA. 

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