Three scriptures to switch concern of the corona virus with hope in God
(Photo: Unsplash / Ani Kolleshi)
Sometimes, when you are in the middle of a crisis, it is also the most difficult to step back and look at the big picture. The urgency of the immediate and the sense of an impending catastrophe can lead us to instinctively concentrate on the respective danger.
In today's 24-hour globalized, information-rich, and poor-wisdom society, we are faced with such a relentless stream of bad news that it looks like we're drowning. The temptation to stick our head in the sand is understandable. "Oh no, & # 39; we cry", no other article / report / analysis about coronavirus! & # 39; " We are tired of hearing about it and just wish we could go to sleep for six months and wake up when it's all over and normal life has been restored.
That is certainly my reaction. But there is a bigger picture that we need to look at here, because a sense of perspective when we look at the past and the future will really help us deal with the present.
This pandemic, like most disasters, produces the best and worst in human nature. There are stories about victims and care. There are stories of selfishness and exploitation.
It is certain that humanity will find a vaccine for this particular strain of coronavirus, just as it is certain that there will be future plagues. But what is the fear vaccine? Because there is no doubt that fear haunts much of the world – much like during the Black Death of 1347, when a third of the European population died. (According to the WHO, Europe is now the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic.)
I share this fear. The built-in natural fear of death that we all have is compounded by the constant drip of bad news – and the resulting social contagion. I laughed and despaired at the panicky purchase of toilet paper, and yet when I was sitting in the small room, the thought went through my head: We still have to buy some toilet paper!
I am worried about my older parents, for whom this disease would be far more serious than for me. And for my daughter, a nurse in London, who was named a coronavirus nurse in one of the city's busiest hospitals. Every day I pray that she is safe. And I would be lying if I said I didn't care about my personal health. Since I got close to death in 2011, I was aware of the fragility of life and how "we are just a breath". Sometimes this realization liberates … sometimes it revives fear.
One of my biggest concerns is that the church reflects society much more often than it guides or loves. This pandemic is a real test of the reality of our beliefs and the relevance of our teachings. And there is no doubt that some real lessons are being taught to our world – lessons that the Christian, if we believe the Bible, should already know.
We are taught humility. Fintan O & # 39; Toole had a wonderful article in the Irish Times that pointed out that we are not kings of the world and are not masters of our own destiny. It is difficult to learn. And one that humanity has to teach again and again in our hubris.
We can learn a lot from history – not least because we keep forgetting it. Plague and sickness are nothing new to humanity. If we look at how the Church has dealt with the plague in the past – whether in ancient Rome, medieval Europe, 19th century London, or in numerous other examples – we can get a better perspective. My predecessor in St. Peter Dundee, Robert Murray McCheyne, died at the age of 29 after visiting the sick and died in an epidemic among the poor in the city. The Church today seems more concerned about not getting sick than visiting the sick.
I love that Hebrew word. I don't know an exact English equivalent. It is what Solomon uses in preachers when he describes everything as "meaningless" or "vanity". It carries the idea of trivial foam. The corona virus reveals the lever of our society. Sports, wealth, leisure, entertainment – how light and foamy they seem in the light of such an enemy!
I was at a hairdresser in Sydney yesterday, where my fellow customers would normally have been outraged when they canceled the major sporting events that play such a big role in our lives, but there was general agreement that it didn't really matter. (I liked the sign above the door – "If you are sick, you need a doctor, not a hairdresser!").
That is the great absence. Real hope must be more than the wish that this will soon be over and that we can continue normal life. This virus has exposed the superficiality of this approach to life. Where do we find hope? As always, I find it in the Word of God. Let me share three readings from you this morning.
Proverbs 1: 20-33 warn us of what happens if we neglect the wisdom that calls out "in the public square". There will be bad luck and "catastrophe that sweeps over you like a whirlwind". The obstinacy of the simple and the complacency of the fools destroy them, but "whoever listens to me will live in safety and will feel good without fear of harm".
Then there are the big words from Psalm 91 – a psalm that supported me as I lay helpless and anxious on my bed in the intensive care unit at Ninewell's hospital. We can be in the & # 39; Shadow of Almighty & # 39; rest (and not in the shadow of death). We are covered by his feathers, and his loyalty is our shield and wall. "You will fear neither the horror of the night nor the arrow that flies during the day, nor the plague that stalks in the dark, nor the plague that destroys at noon" (verses 5-6).
Finally, my song for this morning was Psalm 139, in which we are certain, among other things, that all the days destined for us were written in the book of the Lord before they came into being. These verses certainly speak for our situation. Let's listen? Or do we listen to the voices of doom both in our fearful self and in our frightened society?
Listening to what God says doesn't mean sticking our heads in the sand. It allows the light to expose our darkness and to point out a bigger and better truth – the rock that is higher than us.
"Explore me, O God, and recognize my heart;
my anxious thoughts poll.
Show me what offends you
And lead me in your way "
(Psalm 139: 23-24 – Sing Psalms – The Free Church of Scotland)
David Robertson is director of Third Space in Sydney and blogs at www.theweeflea.com