Patience in the Time of the Wuhan Virus

On March 5, 2020 I went to Turfland Clinic for my INR checkup and was one of very few people wearing a mask.  But that was the beginning of what turned into our self-isolation for the last eleven weeks!  With only trips to groceries and parks, Anita and I have had minimal physical contact with anyone besides each other for over 80 days!

IMG_0375We are up to walking three miles a day without pain.  Once we walked to Boston Road Kroger, about two miles away, and both of us ached after covering four miles for that hike.  So we backed off to two miles and have slowly been expanding the lengths.  This is similar to what we have to do in spiritual disciplines.

Discipline does not happen overnight anymore that that last ten pounds I added came on in an hour, and those pounds will not go away in an hour either.  Even fasting a couple meals will not take them off.  They have to come off one at a time by eating a little less (maybe skip the cheesecake tonight?) or exercising a little more (maybe go for 3.2 miles today and eat the cheesecake? 😉).

The formulas for weight control are simple:
calories in < calories out = weight loss;
calories in > calories out = weight gain;
calories in = calories out = no weight change.
The challenge comes in how I control those “ins” and how I control those “outs.”

Patience as a spiritual discipline is very similar to weight control.  The formulas are simple, but the challenge of how I learn patience, those little “ins” and “outs,” is somewhat more complicated.  Bear in mind we are not talking about salvation here.  No amount of spiritual discipline can add or subtract anything from the completed work of Jesus on the cross and His resurrection.   As my brother says, “That boat has sailed.”  It is over and done, and whether you develop any spiritual discipline will not change what Jesus has done for you.

Kind of like weight control and being in a family.  Whether you go anorexic and down to 75 pounds (34kg) or if you balloon up to 400 pounds (180kg) your DNA is still from your dad and mom, and no alteration in diet will change that.  And my wife is going to love me (and I her) whether we weigh 75 or 400 pounds.  (See for BeautyBeyondBones’ amazing story.)

However, think a little more about this and you will realize that weight control can influence your familial relationships.  Participation in family sports or games, going on trips together, staying up to the same time at night, even sex in a marriage can be affected adversely by unregulated weight, down or up.  In the same way, patience can significantly affect one’s interaction with the Family over which Christ is the head (Colossians 1:15-20).

The most satisfying life with the family of God will come from exercising spiritual disciplines, patience being a major one (See January 8, 2017 and its sequels for more).  A word search on “patience” in reveals what the Bible teaches about this important discipline.

Please do not rush to your prayer closet and start praying, “Oh, God, give me patience.”  We need to realize what we are asking for and how He will deliver on His promises!  (James 4:3)  When you ask Father for patience do not expect Him to suddenly wake you up to discover you can endure almost any trial.  Just as in weight control, do not expect to go to bed one night and have Jesus “heal” you by adding or taking off pounds.

What He most likely will do is provide you with those circumstances that will call you to greater patience than what you had last time you needed it.  I could have asked Father for strength to walk four miles the other day, and in special circumstances He has gifted people with unusual physical abilities (See 1 Kings 18:41-46).  Instead, the Holy Spirit told me to stop walking so far in one day and work my way up to it.  (He sounded a LOT like Anita that day!)

When the Wuhan Virus first became a global phenomenon, I was in full agreement with the idea that governments should step in to inform and guide their populations with what businesses could stay functioning and what type of meetings should be allowed.

But now we have more information than what we know to do with, and even if some of it is misinformation, it is time for our government to step back and stop trying to protect us from ourselves.  As C.S.Lewis wrote so eloquently, “A tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive.  The robber baron’s cruelty may sometime be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment without end for they do so with the approval of their conscience.”

Thomas Jefferson echoed the same sentiment when he penned, “If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.” 

And Ronald Reagan seemed to be on the same page when he said, “Government exists to protect us from each other. Where we have gone beyond its limits is in deciding to protect us from ourselves.”

  • Have patience, first with government busybodies who are trying to protect us from ourselves.
  • Have patience with our churches as they attempt to reopen the meeting buildings (which are not sanctuaries; those went away with the Jerusalem Temple in 70AD – – – And have patience with religionists who insist on calling their meeting buildings “sanctuaries.” 😉)
  • Have patience with family, friends, and business associates as you all navigate when it will be best to resume previously normal activities.
  • Have patience with leaders who may move slower than you prefer, or who may move faster than you deem wise.
  • And have patience with me as I work my way up to four miles per day.

8 Reminders in the Face of the Coronavirus

These are indeed strange days in which we are living.

  • Money will soon disappear as nations will digitize currency and make international exchanges and activity clearer and faster . . . and tracking more convenient.
  • Governments are testing new restrictions to protect us . . . and to control populations of enormous proportions.
  • Media is measuring just how much the outlets for information can be manipulated to educate us . . . and tell us what those in places of authority want us to know.
  • Everyone is walking in fear of the next announcement: . . . will there be any toilet paper in the grocers next week?

Really!? Toilet paper is being hoarded?  Because of the coronavirus?

Yes, these ARE strange days in which we are living.  But thankfully we do not have to live only in this world.  We are citizens of two realms: one here and now on earth, and we would do well to heed our Master’s words: “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:40)  Interesting that this instruction was couched in the middle of His discussion on the end of time.

But there is another ‘country’ in which our higher citizenship is recorded (Hebrews 11:16).  And there will be no shortages there.  No pandemics.  No currency manipulation; the streets are made of pure gold!  Full freedom to be all that we were created to be.  Wisdom and knowledge beyond our current brains’ ability to comprehend.  And no fear. (Revelation 21:4)  And since our citizenship is there, we have nothing to fear from this world.

A wise 17 year old once told me: “Nothing happens TO a Christ-follower.  Filtered by His love, it only happens FOR us.” (Lane Martin) So as Dane Ortund says at the end of this week’s guest blog, “Be at peace. All is assured.”
8 Reminders in the Face of the Coronavirus Pandemic
March 13, 2020, by Dane C. Ortlund

Corona VirusThe Cure for Latent Anxiety
These are strange days, days of fear, days of hysteria. In other words, days that simply bring all our latent anxieties up to the surface; anxieties that were there all along but are now made visible to others. What do we need to remember in these days of alarm?

1. The World of the Bible
Now we know how the people of God felt throughout the Bible, especially in the Old Testament. The Prophets and many of the Psalms speak to people who are caught up in mass hysteria or subject to pandemics. Maybe the current cultural moment is precisely the hermeneutic we need to read the Old Testament, which can otherwise feel so foreign, deeply for the first time.

2. Our True Trust
Times of public panic force us to align our professed belief with our actual belief. We all say we believe God is sovereign and he is taking care of us. But we reveal our true trust when the world goes into meltdown. What’s really our heart’s deepest loyalty? The answer is forced to the surface in times of public alarm, such as we’re wading into now.

3. Neighborly Love
When the economy is tanking, opportunities to surprise our neighbors with our confidence and joy because of the gospel surge forward. Now is the time to be outside more, to be loving more, to be hospitable more. Love stands out strongest when it is least expected, rarest, but needed most.

4. Family Discipleship
Our kids’ teachers are telling them to wash their hands longer. Why? Their teachers won’t tell them, but it’s because there is a dangerous virus infecting thousands of people around the world right now — both young and old — and some of those people will die. Heaven and hell are staring every fourth-grader in the face. That’s why they’re being told to wash their hands for twenty seconds. We have an opportunity to instill in our kids a deeper awareness of eternity than they have ever known. There is a salutary effect to all of this because either heaven or hell awaits every fourth-grader, either taken out by a virus next month or taken out by old age, decades from now. Ten thousand years from now, the difference between dying at age ten or age eighty will seem trivial. This is an opportunity to disciple our families into the bracing reality of eternity.

5. Eschatological Hope
Maybe this is the end. I doubt it, but maybe. Jesus said no one knows the day or the hour (Matthew 24:36). Maybe the sight of Jesus descending from Heaven, robed in glory, surrounded by angels, is right around the corner. If so, hallelujah. If not, hallelujah. We’re being reminded that he will indeed return one day. Either way, let us rejoice our way through the chaos.
From Heaven’s shore we will see how eternally safe we were all along.

6. Invincible Providence
No infected molecule can enter your lungs, or your three-year-old’s lungs, unless sent by the hand of a heavenly Father. The Heidelberg Catechism defines God’s providence as, “The almighty and ever-present power of God by which God upholds, as with his hand, heaven and earth and all creatures, and so rules them that leaf and blade, rain and drought, fruitful and lean years, food and drink, health and sickness, prosperity and poverty — all things, in fact, come to us not by chance but by his fatherly hand.” That truth is like an asthmatic’s inhaler to our soul — it calms us down, allows us to breathe again.

7. Christ’s Heart
In times of turmoil, in seasons of distress, Jesus is more feelingly with his people than ever. Hebrews tells us that Jesus experienced all the horror of this world that we do, minus sin (Hebrews 4:15). So apparently he knows — he himself knows — way down deep, what it feels like for life to close in on you and for your world to go into meltdown. We can go to him. We can sit with him. His arm is around us — stronger than ever — right now. His tears are larger than ours.

8. Heaven
From Heaven’s shore we will see how eternally safe we were all along, even amid the global upheaval and anxieties that loom so large as we walk through them. The dangers out there are real. The cautions are wise. Our bodies are mortal, vulnerable. But our souls, for those united to a resurrected Christ, are beyond the reach of all eternal danger. How un-harm-able we are, we who are in Christ. Be at peace. All is assured.
Dane C. Ortlund (PhD, Wheaton College) is chief publishing officer and Bible publisher at Crossway. He serves as an editor for the Knowing the Bible series and is the author of Gentle and Lowly.  He is an elder at Naperville Presbyterian Church in Naperville, Illinois. 

Guest Blog: Follow me . . . well, maybe Ron.

A guest blog today from Alliance Life magazine, an article by Ron Walborn.  Good reading in Alliance Life, free subscription available at

By Dr. Ron Walborn

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Continue reading Guest Blog: Follow me . . . well, maybe Ron.