Second, Solomon reminds us that death comes to us all (Eccl. 2:16; 7:2). Sadly, some people, perhaps an exceedingly large number of people, will die as a result of this plague. But it can be helpful to remember that all of us will die as long as the Lord tarries. Heart disease, cancer, a car wreck, war—these are but a few of the death-dealing threats that we see around us every day. A pandemic might make the possibility of death more immediate, but the pandemic has not introduced death into our world. It has been here since the fall. Not that we should be callous regarding death, of course, for one death lessens us all. As John Donne put it, “Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” But by remembering that we are not immortal, we can prepare ourselves for our deaths that were sure to come even before COVID-19 struck.
Third, in light of our mortality, we must remember our Creator, especially when we are young (Eccl. 12:1). The living should take to heart the lesson that every death teaches. We, too, will die and we, too, will answer to our Creator. God will bring every deed into judgment, even the secret deeds, and the thoughts and intents of the heart. These are not light or frivolous considerations but deal with the very core of our being. This pandemic can be used of God to renew our faith and call many people to salvation through faith in Christ.
Fourth, what are we to do in the meantime? “Fear God and keep his commandments” (Eccl. 12:13). What does it mean to fear God? It means to recognize who He is and to take Him at His word. He has not been caught off guard but is providentially working all things together for our good and His glory (Rom. 8:28). Among other things, this means that God will fulfill both His blessings and His curses. As Jesus reminded us, we are to “fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10:28). But such fear without obedience is an empty and soul-destroying fear. In the current crisis, in light of Solomon’s wisdom, we are to walk by faith, taking the next step, doing the next thing that comes to hand, whatever our calling requires of us. We are to remember the brevity of the life that is given to us. And we are to remember that the mystery of providence is the outworking of the good and glorious purposes of our loving heavenly Father.