Considering Spiritual and Physical Health During the Coronavirus Pandemic
From the New Book, ‘God, Trump, and COVID-19’ by Stephen E. Strang’
May 6, 2020
(Stephen E. Strang is an award-winning journalist, Charisma founder and author of the best-seller “God and Donald Trump.” This content was excerpted from his new book, “God, Trump, and COVID-19.”)
By Stephen E. Strang
We are dealing with many new realities as both Christians and Americans. It seems that we are in uncharted territory. To be honest, it almost seems right out of what the Bible said would be coming in the latter days. Everyone is adjusting to new terms, such as social distancing; a rapidly changing and volatile economy; and an uncertain future in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of us have battled with feeling scared or worried and are facing a loss of a job or income. Is this the new normal? Or will this just be a season? This is a question even some of America’s top faith leaders are praying about and asking the Lord right now.
At this time more than ever, the importance of living out biblical faith while also taking the findings of those in the medical field seriously has become increasingly clear. My friend Dr. Don Colbert is a Spirit-filled medical doctor and Charisma House author. Dr. Colbert is just one of a host of Christians right now in medicine, basic research, and public health who are using their God-given gifts to understand and fight this disease.
I believe strongly that God has given us a powerful and miraculous immune system to fight off the possible trillions of viruses in the world. Many of today’s processed foods and GMOs directly target our immune system. This only solidifies the case to build our immunity and practice wisdom in our eating habits.
Dr. Colbert told me that, first of all, as Christians we must approach this pandemic with faith and not fear. We must pray Psalm 91 over ourselves and our families: “Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the hunter and from the deadly pestilence” (Psalm 91:3, mev). “Read the Word out loud over yourself and your family every day, and then receive that word by faith and don’t live in fear,” he says. I would add that we should plead the blood of Jesus over ourselves and our loved ones each day and truly put on the full armor of God. After all, in many ways this is what we have trained for.
But that doesn’t mean that following practical advice isn’t important. And understanding some basics of how viruses operate will alleviate some of our fears about the coronavirus. In the early days of the pandemic we knew little about the symptoms or how the virus was spread or even how bad it would be. For example, some people freaked out over having a runny nose or productive cough, not realizing they likely didn’t have the coronavirus, which produces a dry cough.
As the virus news started to spread, many people felt they may have had it. But most of it was psychosomatic. I remember hearing Vice President Mike Pence say in one of his briefings that nine out of 10 people tested for the virus, fearing they had it, tested negative. But people became increasingly worried, and some even panicked over regular cold or flu-like symptoms. At the time, testing was not easily accessible, and people had been listening to the dire predictions of the news and the media’s apocalyptic models.
Many had felt that President Donald Trump was going to use his Emergency Powers Act authority to close down the country, but instead, he set up a task force that consequently gave Americans a set of guidelines to follow and instead empowered the state and local governments in accordance with the Constitution and intentions of the founding fathers. Initially the guidelines were meant to be for 15 days, but they ended up being much longer to slow the spread.
Over several weeks, President Donald Trump’s Coronavirus Task Force briefings were met with increasing criticism from his opponents. It seems the polarization of the American political climate has hit new levels, as even in a pandemic situation there can’t seem to be agreement on getting fast and effective medication help to the people.
But many organizations put politics aside, such as Samaritan’s Purse, which stepped into high gear to construct an emergency field hospital in Central Park. After opening on April 1, the hospital’s staff cares for those suffering from COVID-19. “We have admitted 120 patients since we opened and, in general, are treating around 50 patients at any given time,” said Franklin Graham, CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and of Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief organization.3
“This is a battle—a battle against the disease,” said Dr. Elliott Tenpenny, director of the Samaritan’s Purse International Health Unit. Tenpenny is serving in New York City and has been instrumental in spearheading much of the New York operation for the organization.4
The coronavirus is also canceling in-person church services all across the nation. Churches are accustomed to hosting weekly gatherings; some even have several services each week. My longtime friend Joan Hunter is a healing minister. Just as officials were beginning to quarantine the population, I recorded a podcast with her about how Christians can walk in divine health.
She said that first of all, we must be people of faith. It’s almost shocking to think how quickly this unknown virus overtook everyone’s attention. At first the Chinese government worked hard to cover it up, but as it began to spread rapidly across the globe, entire nations panicked.
“The Word says perfect love casts out all fear—not most fear, all fear,” she said. “We must not fear. As I was getting ready this morning, I kept hearing over and over in my head, ‘I’ve got this. I’ve got this.’ Then I would hear, ‘God’s got this.’”
Joan believes there’s going to be a greater emphasis on praying for the sick in the near future. But if God’s people haven’t practiced praying for the sick and haven’t learned wisdom, this will be difficult.
I live in a part of the country not hard-hit by the coronavirus, but it became personal when someone I know, Greg Mundis, executive director of Assemblies of God World Missions (AGWM), got the coronavirus. His wife contracted the disease shortly afterward. Interestingly the couple have been using a new drug on the market. Thankfully they both recovered.
I had the privilege of speaking to his son, Dr. Greg Mundis Jr., who is an orthopedic surgeon. I invited him on my podcast, where he shared with me what it was like for both of his parents to get sick with COVID-19. Greg told me that his father hosted several French delegates at the Assemblies of God headquarters, and they held a few meetings together. When the delegates returned home, they began feeling ill, and Greg’s father followed suit not too long afterward. When the delegates were told they tested positive for COVID-19, Greg’s dad knew he had to get tested too.
“Monday morning my dad went through a drive-through testing center to get tested and was feeling very ill at that point,” Greg said. “My mom was really worried about him by the time he got home. The EMS was called, an ambulance took him to the hospital, and about four to five hours later he was on a ventilator.”
Both of Greg’s parents took hydroxychloroquine, which seemed to help. Hydroxychloroquine is typically used to treat malaria, but it can also be used to treat and mitigate lupus and arthritis. Tests are still being conducted on hydroxychloroquine as a treatment against COVID-19, and we will hopefully learn soon if it’s as effective as early users testify it is.
President Trump touted the drug as a potential cure for the coronavirus, which has given the medicine quite a bit of press lately. Some have criticized Trump for encouraging the use of this drug, while others see it as practically a miracle medicine.
“It’s not a miracle drug,” Dr. Mundis told me. “You know, the miracle drug is staying home and not infecting other people. If we all do that, then the miracle’s done, ironically. So yes, the drug has been used. It has FDA clearance for rheumatologic diseases and in the antimalarial arena, and it’s been used in this setting [of COVID-19] somewhat successfully by these published reports. So it’s off-label use, but right now, it seems to be the best tool we have to fight this virus from a medical standpoint.”
Greg encouraged Christians to see God, not any drug or treatment, as their Savior in the COVID-19 pandemic. For those who feel stuck at home during quarantine, he said they can use that time to press deeper into God. To me, that is good advice.
The medical community and the politicians won’t encourage this, but as Christians we must ask what God is saying. The most important thing is to not let fear take root in our hearts. As Christians we have been trained for a time such as this. We are made to overcome in Jesus Christ. This too shall pass. Let’s do what the Bible says and pray for those who are sick and believe they will indeed be healed.
To interview Stephen E. Strang or for a review copy of “God, Trump, and COVID-19,” contact Media@HamiltonStrategies.com, Jeff Tolson, 610.584.1096, ext. 108, or Deborah Hamilton, ext. 102.