Could Coronavirus Lead to Revival?

Editor’s Note: This is part two of a two-part series on how to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. If you missed yesterday’s post from Shannon Popkin on what we can and cannot control—and how to trust God in it, you can read it here. Today’s guest post is by Dr. John Avant, president of our sister ministry Life Action


It’s amazing how much fear and panic has been caused by that one word. 

It’s hard to understand what connection the coronavirus could have to revival, so a history lesson may help. During the early days of Christianity, there were three great plagues in the Roman Empire. Each one of those plagues coincided with rapid growth of the Church, both in numbers and in spiritual power! How does that even make sense? 

Well, the Christians of that day followed Jesus and lived out Matthew 25:34–40. 

“The King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For . . . I was sick and you visited me. . . . Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, . . . when did we see you sick . . . and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”

The Roman Christians treated sick people as if they were treating Jesus! Whereas the pagans ran away from the sick, Christians ran to them! As a result, massive numbers of people came to faith. They saw something that was real in the worst of times.

The Example of Early Christians

Around 250 A.D., during a plague in which 5000 a day were dying, Cyprian, a bishop in North Africa, described the disease in detail. It is horrible to read. But then, without any break, he called the church to rejoice and embrace an opportunity they had never had before! Listen to his words:

What a grandeur of spirit it is to struggle with all the powers of an unshaken mind against so many onsets of devastation and death! what sublimity, to stand erect amid the desolation of the human race, and not to lie prostrate with those who have no hope in God; but rather to rejoice, and to embrace the benefit of the occasion; that in thus bravely showing forth our faith, and by suffering endured, going forward to Christ by the narrow way that Christ trod, we may receive the reward of His life and faith according to His own judgment!

Could God be giving us a similar opportunity today? At the time I write this, it certainly does not look like the coronavirus will be anything like the plague of Cyprian. But whether it is or not, we have a tremendous chance right now to pave the way for movements of God!

How do we do this?

Don’t Fear; Instead Show Compassion

The world is afraid. Let’s show them how believers face fear. “Fear not!“ is the most repeated command in the Bible. So in fearful times, let’s ask the Spirit of God to help us live out Psalm 56:3–4:

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.

The world is running away from suffering. So as Christians, let’s run to it! Let the world see us bearing one another’s burdens, and if we are given the opportunity, let them see us care for the sick. Let’s love more than we fear.

Perhaps the most important question each one of us can ask about all this is, “Is my faith real enough for times like these?” If not, God is waiting to revive us! He is calling us to a faith that is fit for hard times. Hear Him, and say yes to that call. Yes changes everything!

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