The ongoing spread of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) has had significant impact not only in China, where the virus originated (in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province), but also around the world.

In Singapore, the government has moved swiftly to enact various public health and safety measures. Masks have been distributed, large group events cancelled, and HR policies implemented to reduce the risk of further spread.

Declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) by the World Health Organization at the end of January 2020, this novel coronavirus is being discussed and debated by all.

Your children may have questions about 2019-nCoV, and about sickness and disease in general. As we talk to them, it might be a good opportunity for us to share how these things relate to our Christian faith. What does the Bible tell us, and what biblical wisdom can we share with our children to point them back to Jesus in such troubled times?

Here are some suggested pointers:

1. Our Comfort And Confidence Is In God

It might be worthwhile to ask your children what they’ve heard about 2019-nCoV, and how they feel about this viral spread. Do they feel anxious? Listen to them talk about it.

Jesus is the ultimate reason we can keep calm and hope in God.

Just as we need to acknowledge the reality of the spread and the potential danger of the virus, we must acknowledge to our children that sickness and disease are hard to understand. Nobody has all the answers. And, we’re learning new information about sickness, disease, virus and bacteria all the time.

However, here’s what we know and can trust in 100 per cent: God is with us. And, He cares.

The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid? —Psalm 27:1

There is no need to fear any virus because we know that God is more than able to walk His people through sickness, disease and even death. In short, God is our comfort and confidence as we face troubled times.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me. —Psalm 23:4

2. Death Came From Sin

The current focus on 2019-nCoV might be an opportune time to engage our children about the origin of death and what the Bible says about disease and sickness. You could ask them: “Have you wondered why people get sick? Why do people die?”

The biblical principle to share with your kids is to be other-people centered. In other words, to be loving to others.

Genesis 3 is a chapter that you could read with your family. While God created a perfect world and called everything in it good, Eve, the first woman, was tempted by the snake and ate the fruit God forbade her to eat. Adam did likewise. Romans 5:12 explains that through this, sin entered the world, and with sin, death:

Just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.—Romans 5:12

Death, and with it, the corruption and failing of our bodies due to sickness and disease, entered the world because of sin. Death is God’s judgement for sin.

The Bible also says that Satan and his demons can cause suffering (see Luke 13:16).

And, the Bible points out that sometimes, suffering can happen to good people too. Job is an example of a blameless and upright man who experienced severe sores all over his body.

The most important point to emphasise to our children is that even though death is God’s judgement for sin, God is in control and He has a plan to save us. This is our third point.

3. God Is In Control And He Implemented A Plan To Save Us

Sin, death, disease, sickness and suffering may be part of our fallen world and human experience today. But, that’s not the end of the story.

As Christians, we of all people are able to confidently and joyfully share with our children the happy ending of this story: God is in control. He continued to love the fallen world and sinful man; and He showed this by sending His one and only son Jesus to become a man, take on our sin, and die for us on the cross. Through Jesus’ sacrificial death and resurrection, we have been freed from sin and death (Romans 6:17).

Encourage your children to be calm and confident, even as they see others complain, despair, or panic.

What this means is: trusting in Jesus as our Lord and Saviour doesn’t just give us comfort and confidence to face troubled times, it also gives us the ultimate hope that even if we die physically, we will live eternally in heaven with God.

God did not leave us to struggle in fear and despair in this fallen world, with its disease, sicknesses, virus and bacteria.

God put together a solution for us: a vaccine that immunizes us against eternal death; a medicine that heals us from the eternal consequence of sin. It is Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour. He said:

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” —John 16:33

And Jesus promised that when the new heaven and earth arrive:

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. —Revelation 21:4

It is vital to share the gospel message with our children during this uncertain time of despair, as the viral outbreak continues. Emphasise that disease and sickness is not the end of the story. That God in His mercy had put a plan together (as early as Genesis 3:15) to save us from sin and death.

Therefore, we can hope in God. There is no place for fear or despair.

4. Keep Calm And Hope On

Encourage your children to be calm and confident, even as they see others complain, despair, or panic. Ask them: “What would being calm and confident look like, sound like, feel like?” Brainstorm ways to remind each other to be calm and confident.

God put together a solution for us: a vaccine that immunizes us against eternal death; a medicine that heals us from the eternal consequence of sin. It is Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour.

Keep reminding them to look at the Big Picture Plan that God has already put in place to save us. Their hope in God is the basis for being calm and confident.

And, practically speaking, here’s some suggestions on what we can do with our children:

A) Pray

Pray for the doctors, nurses and health workers at the frontlines. Pray for God’s mercy and protection over their health.

Pray for the scientists analysing the virus and trying to put together a vaccine or a cure. Pray for God’s mercy and wisdom to guide them.

Romans 5:12 explains that through this, sin entered the world, and with sin, death.

Pray for seekers and skeptics to open their hearts to the Gospel—God’s plan to save us from sin and death. Pray that these troubled times will somehow lead to more people coming to know Jesus as Lord and Saviour.

Pray for the health of family, friends and neighbours. Pray for God’s mercy and protection.

B) Be Lovingly Responsible

Be informed of the facts, and do not spread rumours or misinformation that might result in unnecessary panic. That would not be loving to others, and God is love and wants us, His people, to love others by not spreading lies.

Based on increasing factual evidence about mode of transmission, sanitise your hands regularly and do not touch your face with unwashed hands. If your hands are unwashed, minimise touching other people.

…here’s what we know and can trust in 100 per cent: God is with us. And, He cares.

Minimise contact with others if you are feeling unwell. Stay at home and practise self-care.

The biblical principle to share with your kids is to be other-people centered. In other words, to be loving to others.

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. —Philippians 2:4

C) Hope In God

Share the pointers and Bible verses from this article that give us true and lasting hope in God:

  • Our comfort and confidence is in God. He is with us and is more than able to walk us through troubled times.
  • Death came from sin, and with it, sickness and disease. This is a fallen world and we are sinful people. There is suffering.
  • But God is in control and He implemented a plan to save us. He sent His Son Jesus to die for our sins on the cross, so that if we trust in Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, we are freed from sin and death. We will have eternal life in heaven with God.

Jesus is the ultimate reason we can keep calm and hope in God. Let’s pray, be lovingly responsible, and continue to hope in Him!

 

How To Talk To Your Children About . . . is an occasional series of articles that aims to help parents start conversations with their children, in order to point them back to Jesus, the gospel and God’s Word.