My remarks on my nephew’s facebook page. Posting them here, for reference (i.e., “what do you think about all of this stuff?” — WWS, 04/06/20)
A friend and former co-worker of mine got a job in a group home for developmentally disabled men, right after a stint in the Navy. He was walking into a grocery store with one of the residents. There was a race car parked outside, covered with the bold, primary-color Tide logo, as part of a promotion. It had some of its body panels removed, to reveal its inner structure and workings. The group home resident took a keen interest in it. He animatedly circled the car, head bobbing up and down, leaning forward to peer into the cockpit, shooting glances at my friend and the Tide vendor.
“Well I’ll be… ! Would you look at…. I ain’t never… that’s the damndest thing I ever saw.”
Then, turning to the vendor: “that thing run on gas, or detergent?”
I share his assessment, applied to this whole Covid thing. It’s the damndest thing I’ve ever seen. No doubt that is a widespread, if not universal, sentiment.
This pandemic, the coverage of it, the response to it, the conjectures as to its origins (and possible theoretical objectives) — it is an onion composed of seemingly limitless layers. Who knows who or what to believe; whether the draconian measures employed to slow its spread are an over- or under-reaction; whether its source is natural, or nefariously human, or diabolical (or some combination of the three)? And who can say where all of this will lead? Will it be a beta test for other, future, more virulent pandemics, with many painful lessons learned, but with an eventual return to a (almost certainly altered) sense of normalcy?
Or will it be — as it plausibly could be — the proverbial “last straw”, that breaks the back of our social and economic structures, leading to ripple effects and drastic unforeseen consequences that are too complex and far-reaching to possibly imagine at this point?
No one knows.
One thing I do know; that my faith informs me:
is that the God who created the finite, dimensional, space-time environment in which we exist, from the resources of His infinite and eternal Being, outside of that spacial-temporal environment —
is sovereign. I.e., nothing happens that is outside of His knowledge, will, design, or consent. Which, by definition, includes this pandemic.
It is therefore not only permissible, but imperative, that we ask what it is God is doing, or telling us, by allowing this disaster — the depth of its impact being unknown at this time — to occur. But that is a question that is sadly — and indicatively — lacking, in the public discourse relative to it.
I say “indicatively” because, as has been well said, we have excluded God from our “minds, hearts, lives, families, schools, and communities”. To which can be added “and from any consideration or mention in the public square.”
This pandemic disease is a disaster of the category that the Bible refers to as a “pestilence”. And in the Bible, pestilence is almost always associated with the administration of God’s judgment. The disaster ushered in by Covid-19 is bringing, and will continue to bring, immeasurable pain — physical, emotional, psychological, economic and financial — to untold numbers of people.
In a world that is characterized by affluence and prosperity, pleasure-seeking, pride, arrogance and narcissism; and a prevailing indifference to the creator God: it may well be that as a result of this crisis, many will be driven to an awareness of their helplessness and hopelessness; and of their utter dependence on the God who provides them with “life and liberty”, and in Whom “we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28).
Others, no doubt, will have their hatred of a God, whose ways are beyond our understanding, reinforced by these events — in most cases, the irrational hatred toward a God that they maintain does not exist.
Either way, it is humbling to experience how a microscopic bundle of RNA has succeeded in grinding the wheels of global society to a halt; altering our way of life, and destroying lives and fortunes in the process. And exposing how fragile the systems that propel that society can be.
“Humbling” is one of the major themes in the Bible. Over and over, the text illustrates how those who will not humble themselves before an all-powerful God, will themselves be humbled.
Is that what is happening here, with Covid? I believe it is. I think this is a very loud wake-up call. I mentioned becoming aware of one’s “hopelessness”, earlier. But we are only hopeless in our own strength. In Jesus Christ, we have the sure hope of our redemption, and of eternal life. And it is a hope that far surpasses the pain of this pandemic. Or any another pain in this temporary, fleeting mode of existence.
“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” — C. S. Lewis