We would never have thought, three months ago, that whole swathes of our society would be shuttered up in their houses, isolating themselves from everybody else.
As I write, schools are about to shut down, and supermarkets do not have enough toilet roll or pasta to go round. The church will not gather on Sunday and most of our usual conversations and interactions are having to stop, or at least change.
This plague of Coronavirus, and the fear of it, has collapsed our society into a crisis. We did not realise how fragile we were, but now our fragility is exposed.
How do we respond then? It is good to begin with honestly recognising our fragility and weakness as human beings and as a society. The Bible, in Isaiah 40:6, says,
“All people are like grass, and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the LORD blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.”
We are like grass, which grows and withers, flourishes and falls. We spend a great deal of time ignoring and distracting ourselves from the fact that one day, all of us is going to die, but this pandemic has reminded us of this very sharply.
We like to think we are able to solve all of our problems by technology or political endeavour, working hard, or living our dreams, but our inability to cope with this as a society reveals the truth that we cannot.
On an individual level, we are used to being able to pop to the shop to buy what we need, but now that is not necessarily possible because panicked people are buying all of the necessary resources.
In a matter of days, we have discovered that we are weak, frail and very fragile, and always at risk of losing our income, resources, relationships, health and even our lives. However, this is what the Bible has always said about us; we are created by a creator, and are finite, and because we have rejected that creator, we are destined to die. We are like grass.
We must begin by accepting this about ourselves, but if we stop there we will just despair. There is a second step to take.
Turn to God. He is not like grass; he is the creator. He cannot die because he is the everlasting God; he is able to do anything he chooses because he is all-powerful. He is entirely strong, mighty, unchanging and unaffected by any crisis. However, this very same God made himself weak, frail, fragile, dependent and able to die. When Jesus was born, lived and died, he was God made weak like us. He died on the cross so that our rejection of God could be forgiven. He rose again from the dead to free us from the fear and curse of death, and give us eternal life. John 3:16 says,
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
This crisis has revealed the fragility of our society and our human nature, but putting our trust in Jesus gives us hope, assurance of life after we die and confidence that we are loved by God and secure in him.