The following article was piublished on Facebook on 5th February 20201 and provides some much needed common sense on the Christian approach to illness in general and the coronavirus in particular; I'm much obliged to our sister Catrina for bringing it to my attention. Fr George has given it his blessing for it to appear on our website. (NB: there were also links to YouTube videos but these proved to be Metr. Athanasius* speaking in arabic and that speach is reproduced below so I have ommitted them here but can provide them if required. James)

"Covid-19 won't harm Christians!" - An Orthodox Answer
Metropolitan Athanasius Fahd from Syria answers to those who argue that COVID-19 won't harm Christians: "This is unwise behaviour. The saints didn’t say, 'We are Christians so the fire won’t burn us!' It’s God who determines when the fire harms us and when it doesn’t... If we challenge God it means we are prideful... We should approach faith with humility."

 

 

Metropolitan Athanasius of Lattakia and Dependencies:
Our Lord is the One Who determines whom HE will heal and whom HE won’t. Our Lord determines when He will do a miracle, not us. It’s not for humans to challenge this by saying, “a miracle will happen”.
God in His wisdom, only HE, knows when He performs a miracle. And we submit. What does this mean? The Gospel says “Don’t put your God to the test” [Matthew 4:7].
These days there is a lot of talk concerning the Coronavirus. And we, the faithful people, because of our piety and faith, want to challenge sickness by saying, ”Jesus won’t harm us!", "Jesus will protect us!”, "We put the virus in our mouth and we won’t die." This is unwise behavior.

Let me give you some examples.
Saint Thekla - whom we love - was thrown to the lions, they kneeled at her feet and didn’t eat her.
While Saint Ignatius of Antioch, he was thrown to the lions and they ate him. Why God allowed the lions to eat him while in the other case He performed a miracle and lions didn’t eat St. Thekla? God knows, not I.
The Three Youths were thrown into a great fire, but the fire didn’t burn them. And we all chant about the Three Holy Youths in the fiery furnace.
But fire did burn Saint Polycarp and many other saints and martyrs. The saint didn’t say, "I’m a Christian so the fire won’t burn me!"

It’s God who determines when the fire harms us and when it doesn’t. And only God determines when the nature submits to us and when it doesn’t.
It’s only God… It’s not for me to challenge this. 
For Saint George - the patron of this church - poison didn’t have any effect on him. While many other saints died poisoned.

What I mean is that the faithful person is not the one who challenges saying,
"O God, now make a miracle!", "Now the fire won’t burn me!", "Now the serpent won’t harm me!", "And the bomb won’t kill me!"
This is foolishness! It’s not wise behaviour. That is not faith. On the contrary...

Our Lord taught us that the faithful one has awareness and shouldn't challenge this.
It’s not me who forces God when I die or not… this is up to HIM. God shows His miracles and His might however HE wants. 

So beloved ones… let’s not get too excited and mistake the meaning of faith. Let’s not confuse magic with faith. God is not a magician. 
We don’t challenge as foolish people and say, "I’m Christian, I cross myself and I won’t die!" What foolish words... That’s not what our Lord teaches us.
"I remain faithful and I continue to cross myself, but whether I die or not, whether I get sick or not, it’s God Who determines these things."
If I challenge God it means I’m prideful. We approach faith with humility. The faithful one is a humble person who doesn’t tempt God.

The faithful is the one who says,
"Lord, let YOUR will be done. YOUR will and not mine."

And that’s when the door of miracle opens to us and we see miracles in life.
That’s when we see the light of the Lord in our lives.