By Aaron Earls
During times of stress, like the current coronavirus outbreak and subsequent quarantines, people often turn to Scripture for answers and comfort.
Not only are churches turning online for ways to broadcast their messages, individuals are turning online for Bible searches.
Both YouVersion, the most popular Bible app, and Bible Gateway, the most popular Bible website, noted specific jumps related to COVID-19.
Last Sunday, March 15, was tied for the highest usage day in YouVersion’s history (tied with Easter last year).
The top five verses shared that day all had some relation to how people approach the current situation.
- Hebrews 13:16 — Don’t neglect to do what is good and to share, for God is pleased with such sacrifices.
- Psalm 91 — The one who lives under the protection of the Most High dwells in the shadow of the Almighty. (v. 1)
- 2 Chronicles 7:14 — [A]nd my people, who bear my name, humble themselves, pray and seek my face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.
- 2 Timothy 1:7 — For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.
- Philippians 4:6-7 — Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Several of those verses also saw significant increases on Bible Gateway. Searches for Psalm 91 tripled, while 2 Timothy 1:7 jumped fivefold and 2 Chronicles 7:14 increased ninefold.
Matthew 24, in which Jesus shares signs of the end of the age, and Joshua 1:9—”Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”—also saw triple their normal searches.
Bible Gateway also reports searches for “fear not” and “spirit of fear” were up double last week over the previous one.
As worries of the coronavirus began to ramp up on Friday, March 13, Stephen Smith, senior director of digital products at Bible Gateway, wrote searches about the end of the world and fear were trending above normal.
Aaron is the senior writer at Lifeway Research.