By The Rev. Dr. Jim Crews
“For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.”
– 2 Timothy 1:7
Covid-19 will likely be remembered as the largest, most devastating health and economic event in our lifetime, bringing the world to a stand-still in the year 2020. We the people continue to wrestle with the impact of the spread of the virus. On many occasions the Book of Ecclesiastes has provided me with words that capture my heart-felt thoughts and feelings when I could find none. Chapter 3 begins: “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven…”
Shelley Luther, a salon owner in Dallas, Texas, defied local and state orders and a judge’s restraining order in operating her business during the pandemic. She became a lightning rod for our nation. After refusing to apologize and admit selfishness during her court hearing, Shelley replied to the judge, “…I have to disagree with you sir, when you say that I’m selfish because feeding my kids—is not selfish…So, sir, if you think the law is more important than kids getting fed, then please go ahead with your decision, but, I am not going to shut the salon.” Standing alone facing the judge, her defiant action sparked a national debate over health versus economic desperation.
My immediate thoughts raced to Martin Luther, a Protestant Reformer. Five hundred years before Shelley had her day in court, Professor Luther stood before his accusers Pope Leo X and the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, refusing to renounce his writings denouncing indulgences (pay for forgiveness). Martin Luther was branded as an outlaw and was occasionally imprisoned. His famous reply was, “Here I stand; I can do no other! God help me!” Found in Luther’s Works, Volume 43, is a letter written to a friend titled “Whether One May Flee from a Deadly Plague.”
Professor Luther writes: “I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance inflict and pollute others and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me and I have done what he has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me however I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely as stated above. See this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash no foolhardy and does not tempt God.”
Martin Luther exhorts us to be mindful, responsible, and sensible, and to trust God with the results. “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” –2 Timothy 1:7