The Covid pandemic has afflicted our world for nearly 2 years. In March 2020 I noted in an article that worldwide, 600,000 had been infected and over 27,000 people had died. Twenty months later, worldwide 246.5 million have been infected, with nearly 5 million deaths, far higher than the 1.8 million deaths estimated at the onset. Since that time, the more infectious Delta variant has caused far greater damage.
The Bible mentions plagues and diseases too. Thankfully we have a God who “forgives our sins AND heals our diseases” Ps 103:3. The Lord Jesus went around preaching AND healing during his ministry as did his disciples. By His Spirit, Jesus still heals those who call on Him today.
Why has God allowed this contagious and life-threatening disease?
1 The pandemic reminds us that life is fragile and must be treasured. In fact each person’s life must be a higher priority than economies.
2 It is a wake up call that we are not in control over everything inspite of our scientific advances. In fact we may be too casual. One BBC writer Brian Walsh said, “Over the past 15 years, there has been no shortage of articles and white papers issuing dire warnings that a global pandemic involving a new respiratory disease was only a matter of time. Throughout history, nothing has killed more people than viruses, bacteria and parasites that cause disease. Not natural disasters, like earthquakes or volcanoes. Not war – not even close.”
3 Everyone is equally vulnerable whether in developed or developing countries. Consequently all countries should support one another during this crisis. It is good to see that some countries have contributed surplus vaccines and medical equipment to other countries in their time of need, but much more can be done.
4 It is also a test of how much citizens trust their governments and leaders to employ the right strategies. One prominent leader suggested wacky treatments which had to be corrected by medical experts! How much politicians care for the lives of their citizens, and how much practical support is given is clearly shown, for better or worse.
James 1:2-8, 12 tells us what we can do when we face many kinds of trials.
We can be joyful because the trial is temporary and there is a higher purpose for those trials: they help us mature as we go through the crucible. While followers of other religions may pray to escape trials, we have a God who ALLOWS us to face trials. He loves us but doesn’t overprotect us because he wants us to grow up into mature spiritual adults. Jesus Christ went through severe trials, even suffering and dying on a Cross, but that was all part of His mission to bring salvation to all people, for all time. We too must “go outside the camp and suffer with him.” Heb13:12. There is a higher purpose.
Verse 12 exhorts us to persevere under trial for when we do, we will receive the Crown of Life that God has promised to those who love him. Interestingly, the term “coronavirus” means a “crown-like virus” (corona is Latin for “crown” or “wreath”). It refers to the unique appearance of the virus which has a fringe of large, surface projections which resemble a crown. So Covid 19 is a crown which can bring death. But the crown which believers receive assures us of life, eternal life in Christ.
We must keep praying for God’s wisdom (v 5-8) for medical staff, government leaders, experts and common citizens to do the right thing, the safe thing not only for their sakes, but also for the sake of fellow citizens. We thank God that various vaccines have been produced and dispensed so that the chances of dying of Covid is reduced significantly. We should also pray that fake news and downright lies should be exposed and rebutted.
Perhaps these upheavals - lockdowns, work from home orders, and safety protocols are a necessary pause for all people to take stock of what is really important in life, to understand our creatureliness, realize how short our earthly lives are, and anticipate our eternal destiny. It is also certainly an opportunity for Christians everywhere to show that our spiritual treasures are not earthly, but eternal. May it be an opportunity for us to show love, sacrifice and willingness to serve the weak and needy in our communities. May we show that faith in Jesus, makes all the difference when facing such trials.