This post is also available on The Good Book Blog in Spanish.
These are uncertain times. The global pandemic caused by COVID-19 has been transforming the lives of millions of people in an unimaginable way for most of us just a few weeks or even days ago. The changes have been taking place so quickly that most of the world's population have been caught off guard. We are all trying to adapt to this new reality in the hope that the pandemic will end soon, although it is impossible to predict how long it will last and what consequences it will have for all. In these days of crisis and home confinement I have been meditating on different principles based on my perspective as a follower of Jesus Christ that I would like to share with you:
1. Life is short and human beings are fragile.
Crises remind us that we are all fragile and susceptible to getting sick and even dying suddenly. In general, human beings make plans for the future thinking that we are in control of our lives, but a small virus, a microorganism that we cannot even see, is enough to completely alter our routines and destroy our plans. The poet king of the Nahua world, Nezahualcoyotl who lived from 1402-1472 and was the Tlatoani of Texcoco, masterfully described this reality in this poem:
I, Nezahualcoyotl, ask this:
Is it true one really lives on the earth?
Not forever on earth,
Only a little while here.
Though it be jade it falls apart,
though it be gold it wears away,
though they be quetzal feathers they are torn into parts,
not forever on earth,
only a little while here.
2. We are all the same.
Diseases and crises do not make a difference between people and affect everyone equally. Human beings try to distinguish economic, social or cultural differences, but COVID-19 reminds us that we all can get sick and that we are all interconnected and need each other. No matter what country we live in, how old we are or what we do, we are all important and necessary in this world. The spread of the virus can only be stopped with the fraternal collaboration of all.
3. Every life is important.
All human beings are created in the image and likeness of God (Gen. 1:27). The image of God is the fundamental basis for the value and dignity of absolutely all people. The Bible teaches that God is the giver of life, so from conception to the grave we must protect and value everyone's life. Human life is priceless and no matter the economic consequences that a catastrophe like the one we face brings, we must fight at all costs to care for the lives of all. Any call to "sacrifice" some people for the good of others is despicable and contrary to the dignity given by God to all human beings.
4. God is close and is our refuge in the midst of the storms and catastrophes that we face.
It doesn't matter if the problems are small or big or if the consequences seem impossible to bear, our God is the only source of true security and we can trust Him. God cares for us as mentioned in Psalm 121 and we can corroborate it throughout all of Scripture and many of us have experienced it throughout our lives. Christians suffer like everyone else, but we can do it with the peace that God gives us knowing that our Heavenly Father is watching over us. Fear has caused arms sales to increase dramatically in the United States and panic purchases of items such as toilet paper have occurred almost uncontrollably throughout the world. God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and self-control (2 Tim. 1: 7) that enables us to face circumstances with confidence and in complete peace (Isaiah 26: 3).
5. Love of neighbor is the fundamental evidence of our faith.
Jesus clearly stated in John 13:13: "By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." In times of crisis, our genuine love for others is the light to a world darkened by problems. This love is concrete and has as its maximum example the love that Jesus showed us by dying for us on the cross (John 13:34). Perhaps a practice that may seem simple, but it is essential at the moment is to keep our "healthy distance" from others not necessarily to take care of ourselves but to take care of others. Our perspective and mission must be the common good and we need to do what is necessary to protect the well-being of others. This world crisis by COVID-19 is also showing the enormous social and economic inequality in all countries, but one that is most clearly evident in developing countries. Sadly, it is the poor who will have the greatest impact of this global pandemic, and we all have a responsibility to help those most in need and fight to rebuild a world where there is more justice and equity.
6. Complete peace and final redemption are yet to come.
Christians live with the hope of a better world yet to come. This does not mean that in the present we do not worry about having a better world for all, but that we do the best that we can in the present, but we also wait for the second coming of Jesus where we will finally enjoy the fullness of life that God wants for all of us. Brian Dailey aptly defined eschatology or the doctrine about the future in this way: “Eschatology is the hope of believing people that the incompleteness of their present experience of God will be resolved, their present thirst for God fulfilled, their present need for release and salvation realized.” The three Christian virtues are faith, love and hope. Our faith in Christ sustains us, our love for God and for others defines us and our hope encourages us to move forward in the midst of difficulties. In the circumstances that we face these days, I encourage you to join together in the cry of the apostle John in receiving the promise of Jesus at the end of the Scriptures: “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming quickly.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22:20)