We are 276 days into lockdown because of the Coronavirus strain, COVID-19. We started at Level 5, which was a hard lock down, that gradually eased to Level 1. Whatever we might feel about the effects of lock down, such as a ruined economy, businesses collapsing, people losing their employment, interest rate cuts affecting the income of pensioners, etc., it was the right thing to do, as was the easing of restrictions to open up the economy in an attempt to regain business confidence, population satisfaction and a return to “normality”. This easing, however, has not come without its challenges, coupled to a new strain of the virus that is easier caught and easier spread.
We find ourselves in a peculiar environment, because no one really knows where this pandemic is going. Some countries have started to use the vaccine, and we don’t yet know what the outcome of that will be. There has been a resurgence in the Eastern Cape and Garden Route, both being declared Covid Hot Spots, with KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng following closely with high infection rates. News24 reports that the healthcare system in KZN has been crippled as paramedics battle the Covid overflow.
The same newspaper reports that the President will most likely address the nation tomorrow night after an emergency Coronavirus Command Council meeting today. They speculate that he is going to institute an immediate return to Level 5 lockdown for seven days. This might prevent mass gatherings on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day … but should it happen, what about all the holiday makers who have travelled throughout the country, their return flights, accommodation bookings, return to work dates, etc.? This is speculation, but something needs to be done because the infection rate has rocketed on a daily basis.
Everyone has the potential of contracting the virus. No one is excluded. In our life, Jenny lost a cousin to Covid, so did I. Close friends have had Covid or have been in isolation. One of the first we know to have it has a wife, a nurse who picked it up and gave it to him. I saw him on Christmas Day and asked him about his experience with the virus. Emotionally, he said, “I’ll tell you about it some time. Don, I was in the abyss.” I spoke to a young lady today who has just completed grade 12. She had Covid and said it was not pleasant at all. One of our dearest and closets friends lost his wife to Covid. During this past week, one of the members at Holy Trinity Benoni died to Covid.
It’s all around us. It’s getting closer, and somehow God permitted this virus and is speaking through it to the world about their spiritual standing with Him. How close to home is the virus? We have another dear friend who is part of a major hospital group visits hospitals throughout the country, teaching the staff and inspecting their infectious disease protocol. She and a colleague were at a seminar recently. She was not feeling well, yet persevered and after the seminar requested a Covid test as they were at one of the hospitals in the group. She was so weak she slept in their isolation room till the morning and then drove home. Once at home, she was contacted by the hospital to say she was Covid positive. A day or two later she was admitted to High Care at a local hospital. Her colleague was also admitted to another hospital. Both are Christians and both prayed for each other. However, the colleague died.
Our friend felt she is responsible for the death because she “gave” her colleague the virus. Because our friend is a mature and earnest Christian, she felt that she does not have to right to live because that death is her fault. How I felt for this beloved sister in Christ. I understood exactly where she was coming from … but, respectfully, I felt she was wrong. You see, how can anyone prove she passed on the virus? It could easily have been the other way around, or someone else could have infected each of these ladies.
On top of this, we read in Job after the death of his family and the lost of all his wealth:
Job 1:20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21 and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.”
The first part of the last sentence is so important. The Lord gave … this includes life … and the Lord has taken … this includes life. Only God can take a life, and this is done according to His prior plan for each person on earth. The colleague’s life was not taken because of our friend … in God’s sovereign plans, each life’s duration is measured by His eternal wisdom. My counsel to her was that in God’s permissive will He allowed this virus as He allowed her colleague’s death … but what does it mean for her (and in similar situations, for us)? One cannot overlook Romans 8:28.
Ro 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son
Everything that happens, happens for the good of those in Christ, to shape and prepare us to conform to the likeness of the Lord Jesus Christ. That is our comfort, our encouragement and our hope. So, all the joys and happinesses are for our good. All the blessings are for our good. All the problems and difficulties are for our good. All the pain and sufferings are for our good. All the deaths around us are for our good. We all prefer the positives of life, yet we read that the negatives are equally needed to shape us for heaven … and that shape is the “likeness” of the Lord Jesus. We need to have that image lost through Adam’s sin returned, and the only way it can return is through the Blood of Jesus … and then the likeness is developed through the “all things” of Romans 8:28.
Dear God, even though this awful virus has affected life so badly, help me to draw closer to You daily. Amen.