Exodus 15:26 He said, “If you listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you.”
This isn’t conditional love, but it’s a conditional blessing. The people of those days had no idea of hygiene and nutrition, and many of the rules God would give them after this dealt with those issues, even though they had no actual understanding of them. That said, the last line of this verse is justly famous because it expresses an existential reality: all healing comes from God, whether natural biological factors are involved or not. Right now the world is in an uproar because of the pandemic, but the principles expressed in this verse are still valid. We are to live by God’s rules, which include good nutrition and faithful stewardship of our bodies, and we are to protect the weak and vulnerable. When the overwhelming majority of fatalities from the pandemic are of people with preexisting conditions, the majority of which are lifestyle related, this should come into focus. That said, God is the God of mercy and grace, and healing comes from Him. If we have a preexisting condition that we brought on ourselves, such as obesity and concomitant diabetes, then repentance is certainly called for. We tend to think of obesity strictly in terms of appearance (hence the term, body shaming) when it is actually a matter of stewardship. Then there is the matter of protecting the weak and vulnerable. Advanced age is to be commended, but it qualifies as a “preexisting condition” when it comes to COVID-19. Many of the deaths in that category came from officials failing to protect the weak and vulnerable, which is a very clear Biblical principle. The thing is, we all die sometime of something, but we aren’t to short-circuit God’s plans for us by failing in obedient stewardship, of ourselves or of others.
I have been quite aware of this for a long time, since my father died at 64 of heart issues that might have been avoided with exercise and dietary caution. However, my mother died at 72 of cancer, and there was nothing in her lifestyle that might have predicted that. I say that my father might have lived longer, but at the same time he was totally committed to the Lord, and God saved him from having to retire from Japan at 65 (which he dreaded). I personally have no fears of COVID-19 at all, because I am in very good health, even though I’m 71, and I have great assurance that I will stick around for as long as the Lord has work for me to do. My biggest concern about being infected is that given my lung capacity and my circle of activity, I would likely become a “super-spreader,” and I certainly don’t want that. I am to be appropriately cautious, but in no way live in fear. I am to proclaim the grace and mercy of the God who alone provides healing, whether He uses doctors in the process or not.
Father, thank You for this timely reminder. Thank You that the restrictions have been lifted for this part of Japan. Help me not be impatient, but be an example to others in my stewardship and thoughtfulness, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!