In part three of the new series, NALINI PATHER shows us how Jesus frames a response to the Covid-19 pandemic

This COVID-19 pandemic has shattered the illusion that humans are in control of the universe. In our secular society, we are accustomed to look to science and technology to provide answers and solutions, and to consider ‘faith’ in God as ‘fluffy’ at this time, or even unappealing. This notion that science and faith are in conflict is a common fallacy, more so today.  It is possible that someone can be a scientist working on a cure for COVID and also be praying for God to intervene.  History is replete with examples of scientists, like Michael Faraday, who were both philosophers and men and women of faith.  This is true today too. Less known examples of Christians who are scientists today  include Jennifer Wisemen, a leading physicist and director of Dialogue on Science Ethics and Religion, and Francis Collins, director of NIH and one of the scientists working on vaccines for COVID-19.

At present this COVID-19 virus seems like  ‘wonder’, able to infiltrate through all our known defences. (Blog 1 – Preparing for the Long Journey – provides a summary of Delta strain and the impact of this pandemic)For those in a secularised, irreligious context, this may be stressful! If science, and therefore humans, can’t beat the virus, there is no “God” to beat it either.  The feeling of hopelessness can be very real!

But for us who are believers, a high view of God’s sovereignty is our comfort in times of storms, even when they are brought on by tiny viruses that are a mystery to science.

The book of Job is all about a righteous man – the main character, Job – suffering unjustly. In the middle of the book, Chapter 28 is an under-appreciated poem about wisdom. The basic point of that poem is: God knows what’s going on – we don’t; God is in control of what’s going on – we’re not. The “fear of the Lord” which is wisdom is, in this context, to continue to trust God in the midst of hardship. More specifically, it is to trust God in the midst of frightening and chaotic circumstances – to trust that he, as God almighty and all-wise, is achieving something good and worthwhile – even though we can’t work out what that good, worthwhile thing is. 

This may be an opportunity to connect in deeper ways with each other

In the New Testament, Jesus slept through the storm (Mark 4:35-41 & parallels). When his disciples woke him, he stilled the storm – and asked them “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”  The disciples’ faith wasn’t that remarkable then, and all through the gospels.  The point was that Jesus, the object of their faith, was greater than their faithfulness. 

This can help us frame how we should tackle this pandemic (Blog 2 – The Image of God and Caring for People – has ideas on caring for people). When counselling people through the trauma of the last fifteen months, for example, consider not limiting the conversation to concerns about hygiene and social distancing protocols or whether they are  able to ‘zoom in’ to church. This may be an opportunity to connect in deeper ways with each other and to challenge each other in our personal walk, to trust Jesus more, the almighty God, creator and ruler of the universe. “Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31). 

This COVID-19 pandemic has shattered the illusion that humans are in control of the universe. It is a rightful moment of humility.  But for believers, it is also yet another comforting reminder that we are not in control, God is. Matthew 28:18-20 says: “And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Let us use this opportunity  to urge people to put their trust in one who will never let us down, who is infinitely trustworthy precisely because he is infinitely powerful – Jesus Christ, the risen one. He is the focus of our next post in this series.  

“For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:16-17). 

Here are the links to other blogs in the series

Part 1 Twists, turns and a long road to Covid recovery – new G,S&C series

Part 2 The image of God and caring for others

Part 4 The gospel of the risen Christ is our hope – pandemic or not

SHORT PAPERS: Understanding the Context
Understanding the virus and vaccines
Gospel Hope in Uncertain Times (2021)

Photo by Faik Akmd from Pexels

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