Coronavirus. COVID-19. Pandemic.
Whatever your desired nomenclature, there is no doubt that this pestilence is a global phenomenon. It is not necessarily frightening for its symptoms – like Ebola liquifying your insides while you bleed from your body’s natural openings. It is not scary for its lethality – the total number of deaths appears relatively low at the moment and the death rate may not exceed 1% when all is said and done.
No. It is the invisible incubation period that lasts for several days and the rapidity and ease of transmission that has the world in panic.
When you are unaware that you have a potentially life-threatening virus for nearly a week before symptoms manifest, you put everyone you know in jeopardy – and this thing spreads like wildfire.
Fear and panic are everywhere. Grocery stores are running short on supplies. When I went out this weekend, the bread aisle was almost entirely empty.
This is pandemonium. The question that has been asked by many I know is, “why is this different?”
I have some ideas about that (and other things) that I want to share.
Since I have been alive, the world has faced Ebola, Swine Flu, and HIV/AIDS. We have never seen the US economy come to a screeching halt like this. Everything is shutting down, and we are encouraged to stop meeting in groups.
I first began analyzing the reaction of Americans and trying to form a theory as to why we are afraid.
One explanation is that “The Greatest Generation” who fought in the World Wars and survived the Great Depression are almost gone. Younger generations are farther removed from those histories. There are 18-year-old adults who were not even born when the World Trade Center fell.
Pretty crazy, right?
So the collective memories of storytellers are becoming more like old documentaries – tales of yesteryear that are increasingly irrelevant to Millennials and Gen Zers.
This pandemic is their first taste of a major catastrophe, much like Ebola and 9/11 were for me.
After Sept. 11, 2001, I remember the reminders that we must carry on with our daily lives or “the terrorists will win.”
This mindset of standing firm has been erased and replaced with total fear. I understand why, because we want to snuff out the Coronavirus fire. Still, to see Americans so quickly give up their freedoms is a shock to most of us who have seen other disasters.
Another aspect might be the lack of religion in people’s lives. As Christianity and other organized religions are giving way to abstract New Age “spirituality” or outright atheism, old school religious institutions that used to serve as anchors during social turbulence are no longer holding us together.
This past Sunday, many American churches closed their doors to the public. Many turned to “live streaming” the sermon. Others restricted their services to Sunday morning only. A few completely shut down.
Some churches decided to follow in the footsteps of Daniel facing lions, the martyrs who violently gave their lives for their Faith, and the Christians who famously remained in their infected villages during the Bubonic Plague to treat the infirmed.
They were mocked by their door shutting counterparts for being foolish and/or uncompassionate. Christianity has been watered down for a long time, but it breaks my heart to see such a complete lack of Faith.
Christians will pray for a good job, for their kids, for a new car, for safe travels, and good health – so long as it’s not declared a global pandemic, I suppose. In this case, prayer is ineffectual for a growing number of American Christians. The God of the universe must not be able to keep His people safe. Then again, perhaps these “Christians” are not God’s people after all.
Either way, Christians are afraid. Each generation is spiritually weaker than the previous. I believe that suffering is highly correlated with religiosity. Because the younger generations have not been through a catastrophe, as I mentioned above, their Faith has atrophied.
Less Faith means increased fear.
THE GLOBAL PANDEMIC
What makes our situation particularly interesting, and poses a threat to my hypotheses, is the international spread of fear and COVID-19. Countries around the world are closing their borders. Many are shutting down businesses and group meetings. China and Italy essentially forced their citizens to self-quarantine in their homes, and the United States is currently following suit.
The result of which, I fear, will be economic collapse unlike anything we have ever seen. There will be no strong economies left to prop others up, and these fiscal consequences will not be truly felt for weeks.
That is the first major potential problem facing us today.
The second will be the eventual cabin fever of a society forced out of public life. When Americans realize that this quarantine will not be over in a week or two, restlessness is inevitable. I hope that I am wrong on this one, but I see civil unrest coming soon, and the longer our economy stalls, the greater the risk of violent crime born of desperation.
THE KEY REALIZATION
Even if the health, economic, and social problems are mild, we must realize this truth – we have very little faith in our institutions (and for good reason) and far too many across the globe are not confronted enough with their own mortality.
We all face certain events that are a reminder that life is fleeting. When a friend dies in a car accident, when a child passes away from cancer, or when staring at the remains of a parent, we finally acknowledge that death is near to us. These, however, are mostly individual experiences.
A mass shooting is a bit more social, but a global pandemic is universal.
Imagine coming to the same horrifying conclusion at the same moment as 7 billion others. We are all going to die, and it might be painful.
It might be soon.
This begs the question: Do you know where you will go when you die?
Will you pass into eternal darkness, like a never-ending sleep? Will you transform into a ball of energy thrust back into the universe? Will you be with Jesus Christ in heaven or with Satan in Hell?
We all must contemplate the afterlife when facing the end of life.
If you are not sure what happens when you die, then perhaps you should consider the gift of salvation.
Many religions would have you believe that you must be a “good person” or do “good works” in order to attain a desirable position in the afterlife.
As a Christian, the path to heaven is quite simple.
- Believe that Jesus Christ is God in the form of man, that he shed His blood and died for your sins on the cross, and rose again proving that He is God.
- Call upon the name of Jesus Christ (Rom 10:13) in prayer.
- Admit that you are a sinner (and we all have sinned – Rom 3:23) and repent of your sins.
- Acknowledge that Christ is Lord and ask for the Holy Spirit to dwell within you.
Salvation is a free gift. Your “good deeds” do not matter – though being a true Christian should produce good works (not the other way around). Your keeping the rules and laws do not matter. Your past mistakes – no matter how horrible – do not matter. All that matters is that you accept the gift and believe.
If you have time (and you might not), go ahead and pick up a King James Bible, read the book of Romans, and you will see the Gospel (“good news”) within. Read about Jesus in the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) and you will see an account of the only perfect man (sinless because He is God) who ever lived. You will read the very wisdom of God that saved my life and the lives of my family and many of my friends.
You might survive COVID-19. In fact, the numbers are in your favor. Can you guarantee that you will survive the drive to work tomorrow? Can you guarantee without a shadow of doubt what your eternity will look like?
I can. I will be with God in Heaven whether it be this day or the next or fifty years from now. That is why I have no fear of this virus or any other. I know with complete certainty that I will one day stand before the pearly gates and be accepted into a beautiful paradise that defies description.
Would you care to join me?