What if We Looked at Sin Like We Look at COVID-19?
By Eric & Esther Louw
A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I both ended up with what we thought was food poisoning and a fever. Thankfully, after 36 hours of fighting a fever, I recovered. My wife’s fever, however, didn’t go away. She developed a dry cough and body aches.
After a few days, we contacted the Spectrum Health COVID-19 screening number and set up an appointment for their next screening opening. We shared her symptoms and were told that, while she had all the major matching symptoms, unless she had knowingly been in contact with a diagnosed carrier of COVID-19, she would not be eligible for any test. Coming in for testing would be a waste of time.
A few days later my wife, still struggling with a fever, awoke coughing up thick phlegm. This triggered her gag reflex so severely that she began coughing and throwing up and couldn’t stop for about two hours. We took her to the emergency room and shared all of the above with the physicians. They got her on an IV and administered medications, which helped get things under control.
I again asked about the possibility of testing my wife for COVID-19, given the fact that she works with a lot of internationals and we had also recently been out of state attending a large conference. The doctor shared that even though my wife had the symptoms, testing requires contact with a diagnosed carrier of COVID-19. As the doctors shared this with us, I realized that there was either a major shortage of tests, or the medical professionals were waiting for community spread to reach a threshold before taking the diagnosis seriously.
After more discussion, the doctor finally told us that my wife would get tested for everything else first. If those results came back negative, a second swab would be immediately forwarded to the local health department for testing on COVID-19, and we should hear back within a couple of days. In the meantime, we were instructed to return home and self-quarantine, which we did.
When the initial test for everything else came back NEGATIVE that first day, I let each group of people I had been in contact with know our circumstances to maximize caution. This resulted in many people being quarantined.
Not wanting to inconvenience others too much, I decided to contact the hospital to check whether my wife’s swab had been forwarded for COVID-19 testing. The staff there did not know where it was sent. I called one place after another with no helpful information. It took days before I finally connected with the County Epidemiologist only to discover that they hadn’t been planning to send the swab in for testing at all. When I explained the circumstances further and how many people were quarantined and waiting for the results, he said they would get the swab tested for COVID-19 by Tuesday.
Tuesday came and went. No results. Wednesday came and went. No results. Meanwhile my wife ended up back in the emergency room as she could not stop coughing. Thursday came and mostly went. No results. Upon inquiry, we found out that there was a backlog of hundreds of samples pending, probably with similar stories to our own. Finally Thursday at 7:30 pm, almost 12 days out from initial quarantine, the results came back. NEGATIVE! What a relief, but what an ordeal!
In many ways, our experience reminds us of the very first “virus” to infect this world. Like COVID-19, sin didn’t appear deadly when it was first discovered in heaven. Sin didn’t even appear that deadly when it arrived on earth, “quarantined” at a single tree. But as sin began to spread from the serpent to Eve to Adam and their descendants, it quickly grew into something that was entirely out of control.
Unfortunately, in contrast to the world’s response to COVID-19, most of us aren’t too concerned about the spread of sin. We aren’t too worried about testing our lives by God’s Word and searching our hearts. We see the symptoms – selfishness, anger, pride – seeping into everything we do. But we ignore those symptoms. We enjoy sin, we play with it, we joke about it, anything but trying to purge it from our lives at all cost.
What if we did things differently? What if we treated sin as if it was COVID-19?
Psalm 139:23-24 encourages us to submit ourselves to a diagnostic test. “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts. And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” God is longing for us to know our true condition and seek spiritual healing. His heart yearns for us to be cleansed and purified. We are all under quarantine here on earth, but one day soon this quarantine will end and Jesus will come to take us home. When He does, will we be ready?
Eric Louw is a pastor with the Texas conference, currently finishing his MDiv at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan. He and his wife, Esther, have been married three years and are excitedly anticipating the arrival of their first child in September!
HEART QUESTIONS: Are we willing to give God permission to search our hearts and cleanse us from the deadly virus of sin? What if that means asking forgiveness from someone whom our sins have wounded?
ACTIVE HEART CHALLENGE: This week, as we continue to pray for our physical protection and healing, let’s actively pray for our spiritual healing. And let’s take steps to reach out to those around us—to ask forgiveness, to seek reconciliation, to share God’s love! Let’s not minimize sin (big or small) any longer, but ask God to help us run from it with all our might. As we pray, let’s claim 1 John 1:9 and Isaiah 1:18.
“Many who would shrink with horror from some great transgression are led to look upon sin in little matters as of trifling consequence. But these little sins eat out the life of godliness in the soul.” The Faith I Live By, p. 92
Going Deeper - Additional Reading Suggestions for this week:
• Ellen White, Steps to Christ,chapters 2-3
• “Removing the Spiritual Breaches” – A PDF Download
Day 8 – Prayer Focus – Friday, April 3,2020
• Pray for the countries and regions that have been heavily affected by the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, with deaths and heavy strain on public and community health systems.
• Pray for endurance and strength for medical professionals. If you know a medical professional, let them know you are praying for them by name.
• Pray for God’s grace for those in your local church dealing with the multiple changes taking place in daily life. Pray for those in your local church who have been affected—that they can cope and, beyond that, be faithful witnesses to God’s all-powerful leading in their lives.
• Pray that church members can find practical ways to encourage one another in the faith, and especially encourage those who are going through quarantine and isolation alone.
• Pray for those in the Northeastern Mindanao Mission in the Philippines who are struggling with lack of food and other necessities during this COVID-9 pandemic. Pray that their faith would be strengthened.