Be humble before God's judgment and discipline
God is sovereign over all things, and death itself is a judgment for our sins.
It is one thing for Christians to discard Romans 13 and refuse to be humble and submit to the civil magistrate. But when Christians stiffen their necks and refuse to even consider submitting to judgment from God, we have lost our way and we need a reformation. My pastor posted this in December 2020, and I came across it again when I was searching for something else:
Covid: 274,000 deaths with 450,000 by Feb. Just deaths. Not included is suffering of those recovering which often continues for months after.
Now then, think carefully about pastors and elders who mock and deny this discipline from God. Where is their meekness? Where is their faith?
The post drew over 100 comments, with many people alleging fatality numbers are inflated and with people who were belligerent against government pandemic mitigation policy. But that completely missed the point, which is that a sovereign God has sent plagues and other terrible things on the world (and even His people) since creation. There are innumerable examples in Scripture of this doctrine.
For the sake of argument, let's assume that Pastor Bayly was completely wrong on pandemic mitigation policy. He was wrong on lockdowns, closing businesses, closing churches, quarantine orders and mask mandates. He was wrong to tell us to respect and submit to the civil magistrate on pandemic mitigation. We should not submit to and comply with restrictions, because all of this is just an excuse to grow the state and restrict our liberty. Plus, the government exceeded its legal authority.
(I am not making this case. I am assuming it for the sake of argument.)
Two things can be true at once: Government regulations can be excessive, and a sovereign God can and does control plagues other judgments on man. Scripture teaches about His judgments on earth in addition to eternally. And could it be that when government acts in corrupt or tyrannical ways, that too is a judgment from God? How many times did God allow foreign aggressors to punish Israel for their idolatry, including sacrificing their own babies to demons by burning those babies to death?
Arguing about the "true" fatality rate, comorbidities and the proper limits of government's pandemic mitigation authority completely misses the point that Pastor Bayly was making: In the face of COVID-19, we should be humble before a righteous God, repent of our sins and seek forgiveness. The fact that we are so proud that we immediately dismiss and fight against any suggestion that we be humble before God - not before government, but before God - does not speak well of Christendom. It especially does not speak well of church leaders.
The saddest missed opportunity surrounding COVID-19 is the fact that too many Christians rejected the opportunity that God put before us to repent for our sins and be humble before His judgment. Because we were proud and would not submit, we lost the opportunity to use the novel coronavirus for evangelism. Instead, many Christians retreated into political tribalism, ignoring the truths that transcend our petty political squabbles. Now we have more reason to repent than ever before.