There’s a bit of panic in the air. You’ve probably felt it.
Like the rest of the world, I too have been trying to get my head around the coronavirus pandemic.
Please know, this article is in no way making light of the loss people have experienced through the virus to date. My heart is heavy for those who have lost loved ones already, and those who carry genuine fear for the future of their relatives, friends and neighbours.
My thoughts and prayers are with you.
I’m absolutely not going to attempt to pass it off like I know anything about the actual virus itself. My medical knowledge is about as much use as a bicycle is for a fish.
But what I will attempt to do is draw out a few points that I think the coronavirus can teach us amid the disruption of travel plans, disturbance of schedules and general chaos.
- We are not in control
Fintan O’Toole from The Irish Times cleverly points out how there is something bitterly apt in the fact that coronaviruses take their name from the Latin corona, a crown. Their form is that of the traditional human symbol of dominion and domination.
In a world where man seeks to take control of anything and everything, the coronavirus reveals that there are limits to human control of the world.
Let’s face it, we love feeling in control.
With our advanced technology and modern lifestyles we’re generally pretty proud with what we’ve done and how far we’ve come.
We’ve an app for everything. We can more or less order whatever we want from anywhere in the world by the click of a button. If we’re missing information we can just talk into our phones and Siri can fill us in.
Can’t be bothered to get up from your sofa and book that doctor’s appointment? Don’t hassle yourself. Just ask Alexa.
Our lives run on convenience.
So when something threatens our sense of self-dependence or control it doesn’t usually sit well with us. A bruised sense of entitlement starts to raise its ugly head.
But the truth is we’re not in control of this earth. We never were and we never will be.
The good news is we can rely on the One who is.
“Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honour and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created” (Revelation 4 v. 11).
Yes, the coronavirus has exposed the great weakness within the human triumph. The pandemic has reminded us that we are not the great Kings of the earth as we thought we were. We’re needy creatures, who require a great Healer and Sustainer.
The virus may take on a name that symbolises power and domination, but there is only One who ultimately wears the crown.
“The LORD reigns, He is clothed with majesty; The LORD has clothed and girded Himself with strength; Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved” (Psalm 93 v. 1).
Take comfort in the fact that the One who holds tomorrow is faithful.
He always has been, He always will be.
2. We’re not owed anything
A good friend of mine reminded me the other day that life is a gift, not a right.
This hits any sense of entitlement hard.
But it’s true. Jesus never promised us health, wealth, comfort or safety. On the contrary He tells us to get ready for trouble, because it’s coming: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16 v. 33).
It’s interesting how shocked we are when disaster strikes. Of course, it’s right to be angry at the sin that is destroying our planet, and respond with sorrow when things like illness or natural disasters strip us from the people and things we love. But should we be shocked?
We are living in a broken world before Christ’s return, and we were never guaranteed protection from the mess; we’re promised His presence through it.
This is the first time our generation has had to face global pandemic of this scale. Generations before can tell you about their experiences during The Great Recession or WW2, but for us millennials under the age of 40, we haven’t really had a worldwide panic in this way before.
As a result, it’s all too easy for us to ask “Why?” when disaster strikes.
But instead of asking, “Why us?”, what about asking, “Why not us?”
Our lives are not our own. Every breath we have is a beautiful act of grace and a gift that we don’t deserve.
This should drive us to have gratitude for every moment, seizing every day we have and acknowledging that we’re never promised tomorrow, virus or no virus.
It should cause us to ponder on the beauty of life itself, how it’s been put into our hands to steward well by a good Heavenly Father, and how we ought to make the most of it.
3. We have an effect
Just because we’re not in control doesn’t mean we don’t have an effect on the world around us.
Whilst thousands are suffering from coronavirus, millions of lives will be put in jeopardy as a result of climate change, yet the media hype pales in comparison.
According to CNN, hunger is once again on the rise around the world, and climate change is a primary cause.
Around nine million people die from hunger related diseases every year. That’s almost two thousand times the number of people who have lost their lives to coronavirus at this stage in time.
Our actions affect the world.
It’s believed that even the very virus we’re chiming on about here was caused through people’s interactions with animals.
It’s important, therefore, to understand that every action has a consequence, and we owe it both to ourselves and to others to ensure our actions are responsible.
So take the advice. Wash your hands thoroughly. Throw away your old tissues. Don’t go out in public if you’re feeling unwell.
Be alert. Be wise. Take appropriate action.
But let’s also not stop there.
Let’s allow the actions we can take to slow down this pandemic to remind us that we can also take steps to slow down the changes that are happening rapidly to our climate.
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10).
If we’ve been given this earth as a precious gift to care for, let’s make sure we take appropriate measures to look after it, whether that’s helping prevent the spread of disease, reducing pollution or whatever action we can take to make our world a better place.
4. We have hope
Conversations surrounding coronavirus have caused a lot more people to think about their mortality and death.
Now this may sound negative, but it’s actually a good thing.
What the virus is essentially doing is reminding us that we’re all in the same boat. Whether you have all the money and fame in the world or not even two pennies to rub together, death happens to us all.
Mortality has a wonderful way of uniting us together and reminding us that we’re all equal.
The coronavirus has weaselled its way into 114 countries, with more being added daily. The disease is no respecter of social status, salary size, nationality, or race. It’ll go anywhere, to anyone. No one is exempt.
As a result of this reality, people all over the world are reflecting more on what’s important to them, what their purpose is on this earth, and where they would go if they die.
It provides a wonderful opportunity for the church to come alongside our struggling fellow human and share the only good news we can in this situation: that our lives matter, we were made for a purpose, and we have an incredible, everlasting hope in Jesus that no disease can shake.
“I came that they may have life; life to the full” (John 10 v. 10).
This is the eternal hope we have. Not hope for a long life on earth with full health, wealth, comfort or safety, but hope for a full life with Jesus that lasts forever.
“For what is life? To me, it is Christ. Death, then, will bring more” (Philippians 1 v. 21).
No one truly knows what the next few weeks or months will bring as this global crisis continues. We can make predictions, but no one can see the future.
It can be hard to know who to trust with so much information being flung at our fearful eyes and ears every day. But this we can know for sure: God is sovereign, completely in control, and we can trust Him wholeheartedly with every single day we are given on this earth.
His presence will never run out.
His faithfulness will never run dry.
His goodness will never end, no matter what circumstance we find ourselves in.
Keep the faith friends!