COVID-19: A picture of man’s frailty

Dear BPCWA worshipper, COVID-19 has become a dreaded household word globally. These alphabets are known by both the young and old. What was initially thought to be a localised problem even by experts has now impacted practically every country in the world. WHO declared a pandemic in March 2020. The word “pandemic” was hardly used and had to be explained. It has now dominated the news for more than a year and is often constantly on our thoughts and conversations. It is important that the believer has the right perspective. This will help us live and respond biblically, and also be assured and comforted. Hence, I hope to spend the next few pastorals looking at this from a Christian perspective.

What COVID-19 is. When news of this virus first arose, it was met with little alarm. At that point in time, many thought of it as nothing more significant than a normal flu – something that man would soon get used to living with and get immune to, just as we do in many flu strains. But as time went on, it would be more than this, and in January 2020, the novel coronavirus outbreak was declared to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern by the World Health Organisation. This disease is named coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19, as it is more popularly known. Ever since then, the virus has spread – in an interconnected world with global international travel – across the whole world. Even far-flung places are not spared, as there are now fears of the outbreak of the disease in Mount Everest, amidst rising numbers of climbers with positive COVID-19 tests and symptoms at the base camp. This virus rapidly poses a grave health threat to indigenous peoples, even on remote islands, around the world. Mutated strains have arisen recently and are becoming more aggressive and widely infectious. Are you confused and in turmoil, wondering why are all these occurring? The Christian must not be taken aback because Christ has foretold and warned of pestilences in the last days before His 2nd coming, “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.” (Matt 24:7,8). Our perspective must be one of fulfilment of prophecies.

It has shown that man’s efforts are limited. 1) Measures are insufficient to prevent its spread. Every country has exhausted almost all means to keep it out or at least control it. It slips in despite border closures. It escapes out of quarantine hotels. Some still test positive with the virus after 2 weeks of quarantine. The elusive virus escapes even the measures taken for those hotel room quarantines to infect those who had not been in direct contact with the guest. 2) Wealth and power cannot save from it. The rich and famous are just as vulnerable as the poor and unknown. 1Pe 1:24 For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: 3) No respecter of persons. When the virus first came out, it was said to affect mainly the elderly and vulnerable. In time, there were increasing cases of youthful and healthy ones who also succumbed to this sickness. Rom 2:11 For there is no respect of persons with God. 4) Production ramp is limited. The home of the world’s biggest producer of the COVID vaccine is unable to cope with the major internal shortage of vaccines in its own country. There are outcries between countries as vaccines manufactured locally are shipped out to other countries with dire local shortages. The virus is spreading faster than the world can manage. The Christian must come to see the absolute feebleness of even the best efforts of developed nations and its powers of inventions are unable to contain a virus that the naked eye cannot see. Do we still admire and trust in the powerful, famous, and rich? We need to acknowledge before God, as the Bible writers, “What is man” (Job 7:17; Ps 8:4, 144:3; Heb 2:6). Let us all take heed and humble ourselves under God, and admit, the best of man’s consolidated efforts are yet but at the mercy of an unexpected virus whose origin leaves man puzzled.

It has proven that man’s wisdom is limited. In the face of something so catastrophic, all hope was pinned on the development of a vaccine through the expertise of medical science. But it has been shown that the virus is still having the upper hand, 1) Despite the best companies. The largest pharmaceutical companies with numerous past successful medicines raced to find a cure. So dire was mankind’s need that much money was pumped in to help it to succeed, and no effort was spared. 2) Despite the best brains. Doctors and pharmaceutical companies join hands to prolong life and find a cure for COVID-19. The World Health Organisation formed a panel of medical experts from various countries around the world to approve the vaccines. Each country’s medical industry wanted to be the first to come up with the cure. 3) Despite vaccines. The world was relieved when several apparent vaccines were available. Governments banked their hopes on the vaccines that would enable their economies to return to pre-COVID days. At best, these vaccines were imperfect, but they are the best that we have available. Fears arose as vaccines were reported to have side effects, some seen to be fatal. Even some of those who were fully vaccinated, with what is popularly believed to be the most effective vaccine, were found to have still fallen prey and were nevertheless infected with COVID-19 later. Vaccinations have their usefulness in limiting the spread and widespread deaths, but they are not the panacea to all our troubles. The Christian must be humbled to see that man’s wisdom is limited. This has shown how a virus unseen by the naked human eye can bring man to a situation where “. . . their soul is melted because of trouble. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits’ end.” (Ps 107:26-27). This pandemic must teach us not to admire and trust man’s wisdom, for they have been proven frail and have come to their wits’ end.

It is a wake-up call that each man’s days on earth are limited. The whole episode has been a nightmare that became reality when we saw things that we’d never have dreamed we would see in our lifetime. We normally do not think about encountering death daily. Hence, we do not think about our days on earth. But during this pandemic, the numbers of deaths exceeded the ability for man to handle each day in many countries. We remember the photographs of body bags being brought into refrigerated trucks serving as mortuaries, and the photographs of fires from makeshift cremations because they were unable to cope with the number of people that died. News reported of bodies being washed up on the banks of the Ganges in which they are laid, amidst

inability “to keep pace with the deaths and cremations . . . from the novel coronavirus . . . because of shortage of cremation wood.” Did we ever imagine this could occur? But do we not read in Eze 39:12 that the number of deaths after God’s future judgement would be such that it would take “seven months shall the house of Israel be burying of them, that they may cleanse the land”? From what we have witnessed over the past year, is it something too hard to visualise? COVID-19 has been a stark and very visual reminder to the whole world that as we pursue our life’s dreams as if life will keep going on, your life can be terminated overnight unexpectedly. God says to the rich man who fully expected to enjoy and see another day tomorrow,

“But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?” (Luke 12:20).

This must be the perspective of the Christian out of this pandemic, that your days on earth are not only limited, but also unknown regarding when it can end suddenly. So, make your life count for God today and every day!

Yours in our Lord’s service,