We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh. So, death is at work in us, but life in you.— 2 Corinthians 4:8-12, NRSV
Nooooo … I’m not referring to Aldous Huxley’s almost ninety-year-old classic, and his protagonist, Bernard Marx, who is cast as the only person willing to question the dystopian system of his day in London in the 26th century. No … I’m thinking about the world we live in … right now. A world that has a dystopian feel to it … a world that felt dramatically different just a couple of weeks ago. A world that most of us do not recognize. A world where the word “quarantine” is being used often. The last time I remember hearing the word “quarantine” used in active tense, was when I had the measles as a kid in the early 60’s, and was banished to my dark bedroom for what seemed like weeks on end.
Who would have thought with all our advances in medicine and technology, we would be reduced to hiding in our homes for fear of contracting the Covid-19 virus? Not me. But here we are. And the question for us may be, “How does a Christian react?” I have encountered Christians who are incredibly fearful as they encounter a world that seems broken and out of control. I have also met Christians who are quick to claim that “God will protect the faithful” from this disease”, and whose choice is to live life normally, trusting God to protect and provide for His children.
As a person who has learned to live in moderation, as I engage a world of great polarities, I find myself residing somewhere in the middle of these two orientations. I do not believe that the Corona-19 virus will be the end of us. It has been and still will be the end for some people, especially those whose respiratory systems are already compromised by age or disease. We will grieve the loss of these sisters and brothers. But I also do not believe that we can ignore the common-sense counsel that our national medical leaders offer to us. We should take precautions … limit our gathering in large groups … wash our hands regularly … and take some time to step away from the crazy pace of life and work we often embrace, and just accept the gift of time away from others … time with our loved ones … time away that is a gift to other, at the very least, by not risking potentially inadvertent contamination of others.
We will survive this. God has already shown his Spirit to be at work among medical leaders who are guiding our good practice, and helping to treat us when our best (or admittedly, worst) behaviors lead us into the maelstrom of Covid-19. God is a God of life, but we know that we live in a broken world, and some will die from this. It will not be the pandemic that dooms us to apocalyptic doom. So, walk with your head high … reach out, where possible, to those who are especially vulnerable in this time of uncertainty … and remember that God walks with you and me and every other child of God, in our uncertainty and anxiety. And in walking with us, God invites us to be people of hope and faith.