Thoughts on Coronavirus From An At-Risk Christian

Three years ago, he was given only 48 hours to live unless he received a liver transplant. “I ring all the bells as someone at risk from the coronavirus.”

If God allows me to wake up next Sunday, I will thank Him that I woke up. I will pray for a happy day, enjoy my breakfast and then meet with our Session (being a small group) to discuss routine issues and pray for our morning worship service just as we do every Sunday. I won’t be at Sunday worship or participate in any other large group. I will be washing my hands, carefully avoiding doorknobs and other things that are commonly touched by many people. I won’t be shaking hands. Being immuno-suppressed, these are things I do out of habit and are part of my normal routine.

 

Dear Christian Brothers and Sisters,

Last week, our Session saw fit to cancel all church activities except Sunday morning worship. We did so in the face of irrational, panic-like actions taking place in so much of the world and we did so wondering if we were being worldly sheep or wise Christian leaders. In the end, we followed the old maxim that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Caution seemed prudent even as others raided the stores for toilet paper and beer.

As an older man immuno-suppressed with serious underlying health issues, I fit all the boxes of those most at risk. I am supposed to be fearful and the perfect victim. I’m also a Ruling Elder shouldering some of the responsibility of shepherding the flock so let me share with you what I will be doing next Sunday morning and over the next few weeks. Let me also share something I have been blessed to learn through my health issues, and something you can do to help those of us at risk.

If God allows me to wake up next Sunday, I will thank Him that I woke up. I will pray for a happy day, enjoy my breakfast and then meet with our Session (being a small group) to discuss routine issues and pray for our morning worship service just as we do every Sunday. I won’t be at Sunday worship or participate in any other large group. I will be washing my hands, carefully avoiding doorknobs and other things that are commonly touched by many people. I won’t be shaking hands. Being immuno-suppressed, these are things I do out of habit and are part of my normal routine.

I plan to watch our worship service over the internet. I’ll probably even check out a few other church services on TV just out of Christian curiosity. Not being at our regular Sunday service gives me an opportunity to see something new and maybe even learn something.

I will enjoy my Sunday afternoon and probably take a nap. If it’s warm and sunny, I’m may take my wife and grandchildren on a picnic and fly kites. Sunday evening, I’m hoping the whole family comes for supper and I will be irritated if they don’t help with the dishes. That’s all pretty much like every Sunday for me.

Next week and every day after that, I will try to do the same things I did last week and the week before. I will savor the small moments as I enjoy my boring routine. I’ll read all about coronavirus and watch the news while I will wonder why so many people do so many foolish things. And, like every other day, if I sneeze or feel tired or have a pain, I will wonder, “Is this it, is today the day something bursts, something fails, is today my day to die and go to heaven?”

Three years ago, I suffered liver and kidney failure and at one point was not expected to live more than a few days. Having recovered from a serious health crisis and now living day by day in fragile health, I know one thing for certain: God numbered our days before we were born, and we must be ready for this life to end. The apostle James tells us, “we are like vapor, here today and gone tomorrow.” This worldwide, foolish, manmade crisis should remind us that any moment could be our last one on this earth.

So, what is the Christian response? How are we to respond to canceled church services, travel bans, stock market crashes, wedding cancelations, no basketball, and no toilet paper? What are we to think when thousands die and deep in our hearts, we worry, “Will it get me?”

We live! We enjoy! We sing and we dance when the music moves us. We thank Him for our Savior and think long and hard about the love that pinned Him to the cross. We hug the ones most precious to us and tell them we love them. We listen to the birds sing, feel the warmth of the sunshine and marvel at the flowers bursting from the winter ground. We read a good book, play golf with friends, do things we enjoy and work, planning for tomorrow. Most importantly, we live in peace with God no matter how dark and stained our sinful past has been. It’s just that simple and we can do it because we are His beloved children and nothing, especially corona virus can separate us from the hand that made us to be with Him forever.

In reading my words you might think, “What a strong believer, what a godly elder;” and you would be wrong. Like all of us, though I am not of this world I do live in this world. The Apostle Paul urges us to fight the good fight of faith, to war against the flesh, and to live in the Spirit. Like most of us, I wonder why God allows coronavirus or cancer. Why are there wars and sufferings that never seems to end? I sometimes ask: Where are you God? Did Jesus really walk out of that tomb? Does He really sit at the right hand of a God Almighty? Daily, my faith is shaken and daily it must be renewed.

I’ve read several recent articles discussing how to help those at risk and I do need help. I need to see my friends, people I respect and love sitting beside me in worship. I need to hear the prayers of good men as they humbly cry out to the Lord. I need to hear Scripture read and preached. I need to hear people confess remarkable, miraculous things not of this ordinary world. Things like the Son of God rising from the dead and old dry bones leaping from the grave. I need to hear about trumpets blaring, angels singing, and that one day soon, that same Son of God will come roaring to reclaim this lost world. I need to remind others and be reminded over and over, that the grass withers and the flowers fade but the Word of the Lord is forever. That’s the kind of help I need.

Three nights before I received the liver transplant that saved my life, I struggled to be conscious for more than a few moments at a time. It was hard to focus my thoughts or even to speak but I was keenly aware I was on the verge of death and begged Him to take me. Through the fog of suffering, I became aware of a dear, lifelong friend standing by my hospital bed and I believed with all my heart, if I could just speak the words, if I could just make my voice work, it would be the last words I ever said to him.

Today, I remember well those words I struggled to speak that night and I say them to myself often. I say them every time I feel bad or have an ache or a pain, every time my borrowed liver twinges or moves within me, every time I think, “could this be it?”

So, I say them to you now: “I’m ready to go; I’m at peace with God and I pray you are, too.”

Your Brother in Christ,
Dan

Dan Williams Ruling Elder at Main Street Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Columbus, MS. Three years ago, he was given only 48 hours to live unless he received a liver transplant. “I ring all the bells as someone at risk from the coronavirus.”