By Dean Honeycutt
I trust this article finds you well and coming to the end of the coronavirus pandemic. For the most part, my family has moderately complied with the social distancing guidelines. We realize the seriousness of the disease but at the same time, we know that God is over all. Faith over fear has truly been the model for our family.
We had concerns about this disease, however, we found it hard to believe everything we were hearing about the coronavirus. At times we did not know what to believe about it because the numbers and predictions kept changing. I recently discovered that the models used to project deaths and case numbers of COVID-19 are unpredictable and are flawed.
“The basic reproductive ratio, R0, is one of the fundamental concepts in mathematical biology. It is a threshold parameter, intended to quantify the spread of disease by estimating the average number of secondary infections in a wholly susceptible population. Despite its place at the forefront of mathematical epidemiology, the concept of R0 is deeply flawed. There are many methods to calculate R0 from mathematical models, few of which agree with each other and few of which produce the average number of secondary infections” (The Failure of R0. Computational and Mathematical Methods in Medicine August 16, 2011; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3157160/).
R0 is affected by numerous biological, socio-behavioral, and environmental factors that govern pathogen transmission and, therefore, is usually estimated with various types of complex mathematical models, which make R0 easily misrepresented, misinterpreted, and misapplied. (Complexity of the Basic Reproduction Number; https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/25/1/17-1901_article)
It was extremely difficult for us not to shake hands and hug people. I trust at the reading of this article that we are back to fellowshipping with one another. The fellowship is at the core of our Christian beliefs and practice in the church. We know that a sinful woman wept at the feet of Jesus kissing his feet and anointing them with perfume. She was showing how sorrowful she was for her sin and how much she loved Jesus. Jesus then rebuked the host of the home he was in saying to the pharisee “you did not greet me with a holy kiss, wash my feet, or anoint my head with oil” which were all customary practices during the time of Jesus.
Touch is an expression of love and affirmation. My wife has great insight noting that her dad of 81 years has been handshaking and hugging all his life. It is amazing to me how people are so quick to jump on the “science train” and follow recommendations that may or may not be fully accurate. For example, at first, we were told not to wear a mask, and then a few weeks later we were recommended to wear a mask. We were told to stay away from groups of 100, 50, 10, and then as few as five people to a group. My family alone is more than five people. I am not saying the recommendations were bad or ill-advised.
I would feel horrible if I infected someone I know or let alone a family member. But it was extremely difficult if not impossible to totally disassociate myself from family members. Social distancing proved to be effective as numbers began to decrease. We are fighting the invisible enemy. However, this virus is not invisible to God or beyond his wisdom and control. God can certainly prevent me from going to places or meeting people who may be infected. I realize God is “no respecter of persons” it rains on the just and unjust. I trust the sovereign will of God and realize that God never makes a mistake. I will try my best not to test God and trust His sovereign plan and my role in what He is doing. Consider this verse. Proverbs 3:5–6 (KJV 1900)
5 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart;
And lean not unto thine own understanding.
6 In all thy ways acknowledge him,
And he shall direct thy paths.
God must be the one directing my path or course of life as I try my best to submit my life to Him as a servant daily. I try to take the Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego approach to life when they were threatened by the fiery furnace. I am not going to go jump in the fire, just as I would not purposefully expose myself to the virus. However, if I get sick God can deliver me. Granted it is easy to talk this way seeing I have never suffered a major illness or disease, but I have known many Christians who have much like our very own Doug Harrell who testifies to God’s grace amid suffering. And much like our beloved Paul. 2 Corinthians 12:9
9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly, therefore, will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
2 Corinthians 4:15–18
15 For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. 16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; 18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
At times it is difficult to walk by faith and not by sight. Who would intentionally walk around with their eyes closed? God is not asking us to walk in blind faith; He is asking us to trust Him in areas we cannot physically see with our eyes and things we cannot control. Trust and faith say, “God I do not know what tomorrow holds, but I do know who holds tomorrow”.
May God bless you as we live and go forward in faith. May our churches not go back to normal. I pray our new normal is greater faith and sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with urgency because our “redemption draws near”.
Happy Mother’s Day and love to all.
Pastor Dean Honeycutt
Pastor Dean Honeycutt shepherds Snow Hill Baptist Church in Bakersville, NC. He may be reached at 828-385-0213, firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit their website at www.snowhillbaptist.com.