“Trust God and Wash Your Hands”
Have you heard or seen that sort of expression lately?
Different people react to that sort of expression in different ways – some love it, some hate it. And at the heart of your response is what you understand about trusting God.
Is washing your hands (or any other action to reduce the rate of the corona virus spread) compatible with trusting God, or are they opposites?
A good place to start to answer that question is to look at what we are trusting God for.
We trust God to provide the forgiveness of sins through Jesus’ death on the cross.
We trust God to provide us with eternal life through Jesus’ resurrection.
We trust God to always be with us and never abandon us.
We trust God to be faithful, even when we are unfaithful.
We trust God to be the righteous Judge of the world.
We trust God for these sorts of things in an absolute sense. We have been given no way of achieving them or providing them for ourselves, and God has made a promise to us about these things.
We do ask God for many other things: little things, everyday requests for things that we think would make us happy or content. But we don’t trust God for those everyday mercies in an absolute sense, because they are just personal preferences or things we can responsibly seek to achieve ourselves. They are things God has not promised to provide for us: things like health, security, peace, financial stability, all the way down to a car park, getting somewhere on time, and help finding something we have lost. We can and should ask God for everything, but not expect he will give us everything we ask for.
An expression like “Trust God and Wash Your Hands” is making that distinction.
We can trust God for our salvation and eternal security in the middle of a pandemic, and we should take responsibility for ourselves and others as far as we are able at the same time.
A good example of this is in 1 Timothy 4:8,10 where Paul writes “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come…. That is why we labour and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the saviour of all people, and especial of those who believe.”
Paul says that effort, striving, even physical training, has value, and is not contrary to trusting God and pursuing holiness. God gives us responsibility to care for ourselves and to care for others, and as we do that we trust God with the results and for our eternal security.
We can and should eat healthily, exercise regularly, and practice good hygiene. That is part of carrying out our God-given responsibility for looking after ourselves.
Doing these things doesn’t mean we aren’t trusting God, and it doesn’t mean we expect that because we do these things God will certainly keep us healthy.
We should trust God that he has designed our bodies to generally respond well if we take care of ourselves, following his intent for our design.
We should also expect that things will go wrong in this sinful and fallen world.
Trusting God means that we will accept not only that God will be there with us when problems and troubles inevitably come, but that God is in charge of these things and will take us to be with him when the end finally comes.
This is also why Paul doesn’t write that Timothy should just trust God with his stomach problems, but writes a whole letter about trusting God and then advises Timothy to drink a little wine to help with his stomach problems and frequent illnesses (1 Timothy 5:23).
So take responsibility for caring for yourself and others: Trust God and Wash Your Hands.