July 29, 2020

Covid World

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I have heard the phrase used recently that we now live in a “Covid World”.  It is said we need to let our lives be ruled by virus management.  In a sense those statements are true, but in a more fundamental sense they are not.  In the same way Paul talked of “the world” as being a world ruled by physical lust and under the dominion of our desires for greed or power or money or strength, others have claimed that the world belongs to the devil, and that the powers of evil have pre-eminence (just look at any horror movie.)  But Paul acknowledged that the ultimate reality is that we live in God’s world.  We are no longer bound to live as slaves to sin and death.  The Christian faith continues to argue that though evil may seem ascendant, God, the creator of the world is still active and has the victory in the end, and at most stages along the way.  We need to remember that God is still at work in His creation.

When faced with something new, it is natural to be somewhat hesitant and fearful.  The “Novel” Corona Virus we are now experiencing is indeed new.  It doesn’t behave in ways we have come to expect from its cousins like SARS and MERS.  I heard a virologist being interviewed who was lamenting that every time the scientists think they have it figured out, they find out something new that breaks down their theories.  But as Pastor Jeff has repeated we should not react with fear of an unknown threat, because God’s perfect love casts out fear.  Instead we should ask what God is trying to teach us through our struggle with the virus.

Maybe God is trying to teach the medical experts some humility.  Maybe God is trying to teach all of us to rely more on our Creator instead of ourselves.  Maybe God has used our time in isolation to make us more sensitive to the plight of others:  think about the surge of support for calls for racial justice that resulted after the video of George Floyd’s death.  Why did that strike a chord now, when similar videos (remember Eric Garner) in the past have not?  Could it be a realization that Covid most affects the lungs and makes it difficult for those with the worst cases to breathe?  Or just a heightened sensitivity due to our realization that the virus has affected communities of color more heavily than the anglo community?

Maybe God is trying to make us more aware of the economic insecurity many people face that has be made more acute during this pandemic, so that we will be moved to take action to help.  Maybe it is to make us more aware of how dependent we are on those who produce our food, or the manufactured goods we need, and those who are part of the supply chain to get them to us.  Maybe it is to make us more aware of how important the staff of our local stores are as many of them are “essential workers”.  Maybe it is to have us look at how interdependent we are and that none of us are “self made” successes.  If we come out of our covid experiences with any growth or change about how we view the world, God is at work.

And that may be the most important reminder of all:  That God is our creator and still loves us, and is helping us grow through the experiences of live.  I have found myself spending more time staring at the night sky during this time.  For me it is reminder that God created all that is.  I see in the stars a reflection of the stability of God’s creation, that God is the bedrock and foundation of all that is, and that God wants to be the bedrock of my life.  If I place my trust in God, I can weather any storm that arises from illness to financial difficulties.  It may be hard, but God will walk with me through everything.

So how should we live our lives in the face of COVID-19? We should walk with faith and trust in God.  We should seek to find ways of showing love and grace for others in our everyday lives.  Maybe each day we should call or e-mail a friend we haven’t talked to in a while to remind them they are not alone.  Maybe it is volunteering with the TEFAP distribution to help those who are hungry. Maybe it is encouraging our congress to be civil to one another as they seek to remedy wrongs in our society.   We should place all our confidence and trust in God, while taking precautions to keep ourselves and others safe.

It even means (perhaps grudgingly) wearing a mask in public, since the reason for wearing them is to keep our germs to ourselves instead of spreading them to others. I know they are uncomfortable and it may infringe on our rights of self-expression.  By the way I read an article on resistance to mask ordinances during the 1918 flu pandemic.  Many localities had enacted mandatory mask laws and there was a strong push from the medical community to enforce them as a patriotic duty during war time.  But quotes from the time are almost identical to the objections I have heard in 2020.  As Christians we need to ask ourselves if God would prefer we protect others or assert our own rights?  Think about the mayor of San Francisco in 1918 who had supported the initial mask order for public safety reasons, but refused to vote for renewal of the ordinance because he had been arrested for violating it.

Most of all we should give thanks to God for being with us in all things.  We should take more time to listen to our Creator and give praise.  We should be open to hear something new from God about how to strengthen our faith in times of trouble.

Vaya con Dios, Mike.