Are We in Total War Against the COVID-19 Coronavirus?

As the travel ban to Western Europe has taken shape, millions of us in the U.S. have begun to practice social distancing. Folks are working from home if possible as we Americans are facing a shift in our economic outlook.

Sure, the cancellation of March Madness and the postponement of the NBA season have bummed us sports fans out. Some economists predict an inevitable recession like in 2008. Meanwhile, the White House and Congress are working to curb things by pumping billions of bucks into relieving us average Americans’ financial burdens; i.e., look for a check to arrive in your mailbox from the U.S. Department of the Treasury in a few weeks.

As President Trump said in a recent press conference, we’re fighting an “unseen enemy…. We’re taking aggressive action now as one nation and one family so that America can rebound stronger, frankly, stronger than ever.”

Today, Fox News reports that President Trump has invoked the Defense Production Act. “The act ensures the private sector can ramp up manufacturing and distribution of emergency medical supplies and equipment. The move gives the White House the authority to increase production of masks, ventilators and respirators, as well as expand hospital capacity to combat the coronavirus.”

No skirmish is more or less important than another. Everyone from the Fed who is implementing quantitative easing (QE) on our nation’s GDP to the Centers For Disease Control’s research are working in synergy to weather the pandemic’s spread.

Total war refers to carrying out battle on many fronts—economic, military and social. During World War II, American troops fought in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters to defeat the Axis Powers led by Germany, Japan, and Italy. The battle lines were defined, the goals for victory discussed in conferences such as at Tehran and Yalta. The military couldn’t have done this without the wartime boost from back home.

As we face the coronavirus’s contagion, battle lines aren’t so easy to mark, yet they are around us in every facet of our lives: at home, at the office for those who can work, and even at our places of worship.

The CDC has recommended (and some state governments have mandated) that we not meet in groups greater than ten people. Mayor Garcetti of Los Angeles was one of the first officials to order a shutdown of public venues from restaurants and stores to gyms and night clubs. We may discuss whether closing nursing homes to even clergy and family visitors approaches a legal borderline. Pastors and laymen in many conservative congregations whose worship life centers around celebrating Holy Communion may wonder if such guidelines should extend to the gathering of Christians for church, yet many also recognize that submission to the governing authorities also comes into play. (Romans 13)

The question is whether we recognize our involvement in total war. The partisan lines still exist over how best to handle the financial burdens the fray puts on us as a nation and on each of us as individuals. Though the enemy is “invisible,” we still seek that elusive answer to how we will know that the battle has been won. Even if we face some new normal in our personal hygiene, precautions for sporting events and dining out, our awareness of victory’s marks will help us weather the self-quarantining and the possible absence from gathering with fellow Christians around the Lord’s Word and saving gifts.

Though we are in total war, we with King David so long ago, who wrote many of the Psalms, have no reason for fear. “The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” (Ps. 46:7) His assurance to and sustenance for the Church builds up our confidence even amid total war.

Psalms 46:2-5:

2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
       though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam,
       though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
       the holy habitation of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
        God will help her when morning dawns.

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