Since I last wrote a pastoral letter with thoughts on seven ways to reflect on resilience in the face of the Coronavirus pandemic (which were to: Manage priorities—Sabbath rest—Take exercise—Process Your Feeling– Don’t ruminate—Seek stillness—Enjoy company), the world has seen over 4.6million cases and over 300,000 deaths. There is no immediate sign of a vaccine, or understanding of how long immunity may last for those who have recovered. So much is unknown and there is speculation around how the virus came into circulation (was it made in a lab or naturally occurred in an Asian wet-markets). So much is unknown about what is the right way to tackle the virus and halt it’s spread, with politicians of all colours and ideologies to some degree stumbling around making the best decisions they can with the data presented to them.
So much is just unknown, full stop!
Yet we appear to have many ‘experts’ ready and queuing up to offer critical advice over the airwaves, through opinions in newscasts and of course on the platform of social media, the home of unfettered and unanswerable opinion.
I guess that is fine as long as everyone consuming opinions seeks out all they can, with different opinions and views from their own. Perhaps more importantly this should be accompanied by humility, because no one has full knowledge or complete understanding.
Canon J. John wrote in a recent blog, that many people seemed to be seeking answers on issues to do with COVID-19, where all ”the loose ends get tied up and everything is explained”. He writes
Is man, nature or God responsible? If it’s God, what is he doing and why? Is it a judgement? A warning? A test? A shaking up of the world? 1
He goes on to suggest there are three helpful truths:
- The first truth is that we must accept that we may not be given answers to our questions now.
- A second truth here is that we can be confident that, ultimately, we will be given answers.
- The third truth is that we mustn’t let questions distract us from doing what we need to do.
If you are reading this and you do not have a background of Christian faith, you may well be able to accept the first truth offered, that often we have more questions than answers. Just think about an episode of Question Time where politicians are adept at not answering the questions asked. But of course there are the more important and eternal questions of death and life, so pertinent in the midst of the pandemic, that we may not find the answers too now. Questions of natural evil—the suffering as a result of natural disasters and diseases, for which humans are not (directly) responsible2.
For many that is unsatisfactory, when answers are wanted in this scientific data led and technological age. Surely we humans have come far in understanding and knowledge that we should be able to find the answers, to life, the universe and everything (and no it’s not 42 for you HHGttG fans). But the reality is. no we don’t have all the answers we may want.
Which brings me to the second and third truth’s offered by J. John. The third again non-Christians may be able to accept, that, knowing we cannot know all the answers we shouldn’t let the questions distract us so much we lose focus on the now. There is so much that each one of us have no control over, so why sometimes do we let our minds wonder and worry about these things. Perhaps we should be concentrating on what is set before us. Perhaps we should seek the Lord. ask Him in prayer to direct our thoughts and actions into the areas where we can find answers and solutions to the needs and concerns of our family, our neighbours and community.
But I think the second truth may be the one non-Christians struggle with—that ultimately we will be given the answers in a life beyond this one. The Christian faith is a future faith, a resurrection faith. We know that one day we will meet our Lord and all knowledge will be revealed. Maybe in our scientific age you struggle with that and think it spiritual nonsense. But know this, you don’t have to wait to find out. Jesus said “the Kingdom of God is already among you”. I have been asked by some why there is not more preaching on the end times at the moment and I would refer readers to the quote on the back page (from Luke 17.20-21) while noting my final thoughts.
Jesus bought the Kingdom to reign on earth and at Pentecost His followers received the Holy Spirit for comfort and guidance in this life. Our faith calls us to bring the Kingdom of God to bear on the evils of this world today. To fight a holy war upon injustice, poverty, modern-day slavery, corruption and so much more. But it also calls Christian to share the Good News—that there is hope beyond this life of unanswered and unanswerable questions. The hope we share is faith in the message of the grace of God’s eternal salvation.
Please share your faith, or if you are reading this and have questions arising from my thoughts, then contact me. I will leave you with a conclusion from J. John
At the moment we have no clear answers but we can be reassured that, one day, we will be given them. What is far more important than getting answers about this global crisis is the opportunity for us, while we are still alive, to repent and get right with God, and to put things right by taking him and his commandments seriously.
Your servant in Christ Pastor Mike
- For the full blog visit: https://mailchi.mp/canonjjohn.com/mystery?e=365eab5836
- Where is God in a Coronavirus World?, John C. Lennox, p14.