By Ron Hinson
A novel coronavirus emergence is an outcome of life cycles of ever-present change within the biological ecosystems of our earth. Prevention or response to such events can be marked by the false assumptions that we can sustainably “control” biology when, in truth, each new event marks a new scenario that we may or may not be able to “respond” to easily or adequately.
In this present crisis, the specter of physical death in the near future remains for many. Yet every day, human beings demonstrate behaviors that largely ignore or suppress that very real possibility.
Fear however is not the state in which the inevitably dying are called to live. In fact, while approaching death daily at some rate, every living human being is invited to act today in positive ways that can both improve the lives of others and themselves. Actions for the common good are possible; acts for the good of oneself are possible; actions for the love of humanity are possible. Where we have neglected this sense of responsibility and eventual accountability is the place in which we should all do our soul-searching.
For each of us, the best measure of our lives is not in our ability to get, but to give. Today we have opportunity for selfless acts of service and willful intention, but also the opportunity to grasp occasions for showing compassionate care and mercy toward others. In the present circumstances, we have been informed by health and government that the impacts of COVID-19 are such that medical systems currently in place will not be able to meet the numbers of affected patients due to the rapid rate of infection and the limitation of assets, both in medical personnel and medical supplies. Coupled with the frustration of having a crisis for which we are unprepared, is the rising awareness that this virus is particularly lethal among older populations. Today, we face looming deaths in numbers we have not seen since World Wars and the pandemic flu of 1918.
Such predictions have inspired us to do what can be done, in responding to requests for social distancing, improved hygiene and vigorous attention to enacted restrictions on gathering.
It is a hard adjustment. We feel restricted, restrained, somehow “forced” to choose these limiting and inconvenient and economically imperiling orders. At the same time, our biggest challenge is our own sense of independence, a willful desire to move freely and the subtle desire to ignore an invisible viral enemy that seems to fill the evening news with its impacts around the globe.
Consider the moment and consider your own life. Are you prepared to die? If you aren’t, then consider what it means if you are not. It may mean you need to consider what it means to live and to live responsibly and to live with intention and purpose to your days. It means to value your days and your hours and your minutes—not to be filled with anxiety, but to be empowered to live in ways that consider more than just the momentary pleasures and to think about the important conversations that you might be able to have with those you know and love. It may mean to have spiritual conversations that are important for you to have. It may mean to express thanks in important ways to those you love and appreciate.
Today is the gift that God has provided for you. Now is the time to be reconciled with God and your fellow-human neighbors, family and friends.
God has extended to us his love to prepare us for this day. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life” John 3:16.
Each of us is commanded to “love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our strength;” and Jesus added, “with all our mind.” There was another commandment that Jesus said was as important and that is “to love your neighbor as yourself.”
Setting ourselves within the context of a world in need, we all should understand that we need a Savior. We should pray for mercy, but also seek to demonstrate love for one another every day. God extends hope to all of us, now and forever. Don’t miss the opportunity of every day to celebrate life in Him. Come what may, God’s love will sustain us. Put your trust first in Him; then do the things He enables you to do responsibly and redemptively for the good of those around you.
Ron Hinson is retired after 40 years of pastoral ministry and lives with his wife Jan in Chadbourn, N.C.