“For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return.” Philippians 1:10 NLT
After I came home from work on Monday I found I had a fever when I did my routine temperature check. It was providential that I just had my routine swab test for COVID-19 earlier in the afternoon. My wife isolated me in the bedroom in compliance with the COVID-19 measures and we sent our neighbor’s son who was playing with our grandchildren home as we practiced a mini “lockdown” while waiting for the result of my swab test. Later that night, I had diarrhoea and the fever came down. I felt relieved that the fever was probably due to an attack of gastroenteritis. The swab test result came back 27 hours later and was negative. We lifted my isolation and our lockdown.
My brief illness was a taste of the biblical truth that we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalms 139:13-14). Fever is the body’s perfect defence mechanism to kill bacteria, viruses and cancer cells. Diarrhoea is the body’s cleansing system. I did not take any medications but simply rested in my wife’s TLC and drank more fluids. It was a time of resting in God’s loving embrace.
The enforced solitude for more than a day was a time for reflection – to understand what really matters. Our technological advances in modern society have turned the human body into a machine. Thomas Moore, in his book, Care of the Soul, described the modern view of the human body:
“The modern body is an efficient machine that needs to be kept in shape so that its organs will function smoothly and for as long as possible. If something goes wrong with any part, it can be replaced with a mechanical substitute, because that is the way we picture the body – as a machine.”
Human beings are behaving and treating each other like robots and trying to create robots that behave like human beings. But we are embodied souls and not robots. In the sixteenth century, Paracelsus gave doctors the following advice which holds true even today:
“The physician should speak of that which is invisible. What is visible should belong to his knowledge, and he should recognize illnesses, just as anyone who is not a physician can recognize them from their symptoms. But this is far from making him a physician; he becomes a physician only when he knows that which is unnamed, invisible, and immaterial, yet has its effect.”
Thomas Moore noted that modern medicine trusts the microscope to reveal the roots of illness, but the microscope doesn’t look far enough within. I was challenged by the perspective of a Paracelsian physician – to take into account the invisible factors at work in illness – emotion, thoughts, personal history, relationship, longing, fear, desire, etc. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic we can live in F.E.A.R. or we can live by F.A.I.T.H.
Fearful Expectations Appearing Real or Feeling Afraid I Trust Him
One of the important lessons we can learn from COVID-19 virus is that we need to face the reality of death. Death is part and parcel of life and much of our human suffering comes from the denial of death. To be infected with a COVID-19 virus is not a death sentence. In fact most of the patients will recover and many are even asymptomatic. It is the fearful expectations about COVID-19 that appears real that are the problems. It is a time to grow in F.A.I.T.H. – Feeling Afraid I Trust Him. The good news is that Jesus came to set us free from the fear of death:
“Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.” Hebrews 2:14-15 NLT
False Expectations Appearing Real or Feeling Abandoned I Trust Him
We are living with a false expectation if we think we can get rid of the COVID-19 virus. The reality is that we need to learn to live with this ubiquitous virus by learning to appreciate the blessings of solitude as we practice isolation and social distancing. Jesus cried out on the cross, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?” to show us that in life there will inevitably be times when we feel abandoned. But in such times, we have a God whom we can trust. The times of lockdown are opportunities for Christians to draw close to God through prayer and meditation – a time to experience F.A.I.T.H. – Feeling Abandoned I Trust Him. It is a time to stand on God’s promise:
“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.” Romans 8:38 NLT
Fickle Experiences Appearing Real or Facing Anger I Trust Him
Life has been uncertain and unpredictable with the COVID-19 pandemic. With the appearance of new clusters, new rules for social distancing had to be implemented. Many couples had to make adjustments or changes to their wedding plans. The holiday plans of many were disrupted. It is human to feel frustrated and angry in such situations. But these are times to live out the truth of God’s Word:
“Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” How do you know what life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog – it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that. Otherwise you are boasting about your own pretentious plans, and all such boasting is evil.” James 4:13-16, NLT.
We do not have to deny or bury our anger. We can exercise F.A.I.T.H. – Facing Anger I Trust Him to help us channel our anger into constructive and healing acts of love.
Fake Evidence Appearing Real or Facing Adversity I Trust Him
In the social media we are bombarded by so much fake evidences about so many things in life. Even cow’s urine and cow dung are being promoted as remedies for the coronavirus infection – an example of “cow-sense” taking over common sense. This is but a reflection of our human nature to seek easy and short term solutions for our problems and suffering. Thomas Moore draws attention to the important following truth:
“Illness is to a large extent rooted in eternal causes. The Chrisian doctrine of original sin and the Buddhist Four Noble Truths teach that human life is wounded in its essence, and suffering is in the nature of things. We are wounded simply by participating in human life, by being children of Adam and Eve. To think that the proper or natural state is to be without wounds is an illusion. Any medicine motivated by the fantasy of doing away with woundedness is tryng to avoid the human condition.”
Suffering is part and parcel of human life but it is our response to our suffering that is important. False teachings about health and wealth blinds us to the truth that times of adversity are opportunities for spiritual growth – a time to grow in F.A.I.T.H. – Facing Adversity, I Trust Him. Suffering is never the will of God – it is the evidence of the reality of sin and evil and our need for the redemptive grace of God. Bishop Fulton Sheen gives us the following insight:
“Every mortal sin consists in a turning away from God and a turning to creatures. Because we turn away from God, we feel the absence of His Love, His Beauty, His Truth – and this is called the pain of loss. Because we turn to creatures and pervert them to our sinful purposes, we are punished in some way by the very creatures we abused. Hell fire is one of the aspects of this pain of sense.”
The COVID-19 virus is causing cracks in our capitalistic world and a new world is breaking through. The good news is that God is making everything new:
“And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:5 NLT
Only the truth can set us free and Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Jesus is our Shepherd of Love who will use our adversities in life to turn us into wounded healers. What really matters is that we can carry everything to God in prayer:
‘What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear,
What a privilege to carry, everything to God in prayer.
O what peace we often forfeit
O what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry, everything to God in prayer.”