As I write this, the much anticipated hope of Covid 19 abating after a rapid initial appearance throughout China and South-east Asia has, alas, become a wishful expectation. It has now reached all corners of the globe, and health authorities are now less optimistic about containing it.
Covid 19 has now impacted facets of our life in greater ways than we would have imagined. It has curtailed or forced the change of travel plans once taken for granted. Large gatherings are now discouraged and people are starting to think twice before going to where there are large congregations.
Speaking of which, the church has not been spared either. Previous large spike of cases in South Korea and Singapore were linked to church clusters. In response, churches have to forgo the traditional gathering of saints and livestream services instead.
As Christians we ought to pray for God’s strength and protection during a time like this. We should also pray for wisdom to prevail over the governing and health authorities who seek to administer control and treatment.
But are there any lessons that this trial can teach us as Christians? I have pondered over these and there are three reminders which I can apply to my faith.
1. IT REMINDS US THAT THERE IS MUCH WE CANNOT CONTROL
Because of the technological progress of the age we live in, it is tempting to think that we can solve just about all of our problems, or at least we soon will. If we are hot, we turn on air conditioning. Hunger can be solved with food delivery, and the wonders of modern air travel means that we can be anywhere in the world within hours or a day. Some eons ago, a similar journey might have taken months or years.
However, the Coronavirus reminds us that we haven’t been able to solve all threats in life. Take cancer, for example, although great strides have been made in its treatment, it still takes the lives of many. Alzheimer’s is another disease with few viable treatments, and is one that is feared by many.
While we work on a vaccine or cure, it is good to humble ourselves and think of how much of the vagaries of life are beyond our control.
2. IT REMINDS US TO TRUST IN GOD
In these fearful times, it is common to ask where God is in all of this. There are two key issues. The first is the idea of whether God is totally sovereign or only partially, and the second is whether he has oversight all of the time or some of the time.
God can be trusted…..and He is in control of the situation”
This idea is important because it has a lot to do with whether we trust God or not. If He is only partially sovereign and even then, only some of the time, then it is only logical to assume that chaos and mayhem pervades the remainder. However, Psalm 46:1 tells us that “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble”. God can be trusted because He is there, even when it looks like He is not, and He is in control of the situation.
3. IT REMINDS US THAT THERE IS A BETTER PLACE
The Coronavirus reminds us that the world that we live in is neither perfect nor free from the effects of the fall in Genesis 3. As mentioned before, it is sometimes easy to think we are living in the Garden of Eden, but this is a stark reminder that this is not the new Heaven and Earth.
One unfortunate consequence of the virus is that it will be fatal for some, and thus, there is a logical reason to fear or be wary of it to some extent. But even if by God’s grace we manage to avoid it, our years on this planet are limited. Thus, it may lead us to question how we live our lives, because ultimately, like grass, we will wither and fade (1 Peter 1:24)
As Christians, we should cross the divide between the reality of the situation and the hope of a certainty that is to come. The effects of the virus are real; it brings pain, suffering and sadly, even death in some instances. We do not deny the fear that it does bring.
However, we also look to the hope that the Gospel of Jesus Christ brings. In John 16.33 when our Lord and Saviour says “But take heart, I have overcome the world”, He means to say that we are to look forward to a time when He will come to redeem the world and purge it of all sin and suffering.
…we also look to the hope of that Gospel of Jesus Christ brings.
Until then, we contend for the Gospel, being a light in the present dark time and place that we find ourselves.