Photo credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen,
since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:18 (NIV)
The more I learn about the coronavirus pandemic the more I realize that the unseen world is just as real–and much more powerful–than the world I can see. This virus has caused me to ponder seven questions that are typically asked through the lens of faith.
1. How often are we impacted by invisible things?
The new coronavirus that causes COVID-19 respiratory disease is significantly more microscopic than you could ever imagine. In fact, there’s no trace of the virus under a light microscope typically used to detect bacteria. The coronavirus is only detectable with the use of an electron microscope, which can magnify objects up to 10 million times. The minuteness of this virus is incredible, begging the question of how something that’s nearly invisible has the power to shut down large cities, sicken and kill hundreds of thousands of people, and strike fear into the hearts of all mankind.
2. Do humans co-exist with multiple dimensions of ‘life’?
Unlike bacteria that are fully “alive,” viruses exist in a weird state that is neither living nor non-living—or perhaps it’s both. Viruses have a protein coat that contains DNA or RNA, which are the building blocks of life. However, they have no cell wall, no metabolism or a way to consume energy, and they cannot split and reproduce on their own. They thrive by invading and destroying living host cells. In many ways, the coronavirus is as non-living as a plastic poison pill. As, Eric Mendenhall, an associate professor of biological sciences at the University of Alabama in Huntsville said to WebMD,” If you don’t pass it on, then that virus hits a dead end in its pseudo-life.”
The knowledge that viruses are neither living nor non-living (or both), creates space for the belief that there are also entities on earth that are ultra-living—supernatural, immortal, eternal. Might we one day invent a way to detect spiritual beings? If so, how would humanity respond?
3. Does an unseen, spiritual world really exist?
The coronavirus is a near-invisible, quasi-biological pathogen that terrorizes the human race. For those who deny the existence of God, Satan, angels, and demons, this virus is perhaps the closest thing to being spiritual. Could this new coronavirus convince atheists that man has always co-existed with mysterious living, non-living, unseen, ubiquitous, and uncontainable creatures that scientists have yet to discover? After all, viruses have existed on earth long before Dimitrii Ivonosky became the first scientist to discover a virus in 1892.
The Bible has told of angels and fallen angels (demons) for more than 4,000 years. In the book of Job, which is believed to be the oldest book in the Bible, Eliphaz said, “A spirit swept past my face, and my hair stood on end” (Job 4:15). While Eliphaz never actually saw the spirit, we know from the Scriptures that God protected his friend Job, while allowing Satan to test Job’s faith through a series of demonic attacks. Satan even disguised himself as a serpent when he deceived Adam and Eve (the first humans) in the garden of Eden (Genesis 3).
These ultra-beings have been roaming on earth and impacting people for a very long time. But unlike the coronavirus, these spiritual beings don’t just touch the physical parts of man but they reach down to the depths of one’s soul.
For example, we are typically blessed when we come into contact with angels. They are messengers of God who minister to those who will inherit salvation (Hebrews 1:14) and protect us from demonic harm. Angels in the Bible would either affirm God’s plan for humanity or release God’s judgment. These angelic, spiritual beings don’t have earthly bodies, though they can make themselves visible and with flesh if the need arises. Hebrews 13:2 tells us, “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”
However, when we come into contact with demonic influence (i.e. pornography, horror flicks, witchcraft) or submit to demonic lies (i.e. justified in harboring bitterness, unforgiveness or identity struggles), the dignity of our humanity is diminished. We walk away feeling all the more wretched and undone. When addressing wickedness, Ephesians 6:12 reminds us: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Human contact demons cannot be erased by a 20-second washing of hands!
4. Is this pandemic a glimpse of evil at work or something else?
The attributes of the coronavirus are eerily similar to that of the devil: insidious, violent, preying on the weak. So how can people still dismiss the existence of evil spirits when mankind cannot rid itself of heinous crimes like genocide, murder, and rape, nor extinguish the persistent pestilence of racism, injustice, and corporate greed?
The fact that I can pick up the coronavirus from a borrowed pen and then transfer it to the back of a chair and then onto a metal gas pump in a matter of minutes is unnerving. How can one wash their hands often enough to avoid spreading a germ that may or may not be there? Worse, to know that a healthy, asymptomatic person can unknowingly pass this deadly virus to others for up to 14 days makes the coronavirus seem as formidable as Satan himself.
Yet, we also know that God Himself sent ten plagues to Egypt in the book of Exodus to compel humanity to submit to His authority. We also see in “I
5. What has the power to stop the coronavirus?
Although the coronavirus currently appears ubiquitous, there are spiritual beings that have greater reach and have existed long before. Nehemiah 9:6 says that God created ultra-living beings and that they are as old as heaven itself: “You are the Lord, you alone; you have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host . . . and the host of heaven worships you.”
There is one Creator of all spirits, all microbes, all humans—Jesus Christ! Colossians 1:16 says, “For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.” This means that Jesus is the Lord of all the living, all the non-living, and all the ultra-living. He said, “I am the resurrection and the life.” (John 11:25) And through His victory on the cross, Jesus disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities, shaming them publicly. (Colossians 2:15)
6. How can we think deeper than ever during this pandemic?
The coronavirus has caused me to think twice about what I physically touch; who I allow into my physical space; and what I defined as “clean.” If a virus that I cannot see has caused me to respond differently to things I can see, then, by reverse logic, shouldn’t the things I can see impact the way I respond to things I cannot see?
Am I allowing possessions or objects to touch my soul? Are there people in my life getting too close to me emotionally? What conversations or forms of entertainment am I allowing to defile my thoughts and motives? Am I physically healthy but spiritually sick? Are the subliminal messages of words and deeds transmitting like a contagion or a cure?
7. How can we choose faith over fear, life over death during this pandemic?
When the coronavirus pandemic is over, I hope that it will leave us with an understanding of the seen and unseen world in a new, resurrected, life-giving way. Let’s pray more and gossip, worry, and complain less. Let’s forgive quickly, and forgive again. Let’s discern the invisible motivators behind the content we consume, asking ourselves if the messages are pointing us toward life or lies, death, and destruction. After all, Jesus says in John 10:10: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
So we see you, Coronavirus. You’re microscopic, but you are amazingly clear. You are no longer invisible to us, and we don’t fear you. For Jesus, the Prince of Peace, is here.
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
2 Timothy 1:7