Views & Reviews
Coronavirus: Hope Amidst Isolation
Today, the world is going through an unimaginable degree of impending threat and pain. This microscopic virus is impartial—it spares no colour, creed, or class. In the most unfamiliar and odd manner, it is uniting humanity amidst all our differences. For once, in our generation, the world is in agreement that this present virus must be eradicated at all cost. Nations have invested huge sums of money to combat a dangerous battle of a different nature. It seems, even if only for a brief period, nations with differing political and religious ideologies are converging on a common cause for humanity.
And yet, numerous predictions are being circulated in mass media, by everyone from religious prophets to economists to scientists from reputable institutions, each warning us of the potential for full-scale disruption and devastation that will inevitably impact all of us. Indeed, our situation is frightening!
Whatever one is saying in such a time as this, as a servant of God, I write this to my dear sisters and brothers in our respective lockdowns and isolation. In these times, we can turn to the Apostle Paul, who, two millennia ago, experienced much of the same fear and despair, anxiety and panic, illness and death that we experience today. Writing in his Second Epistle to the Corinthians, Paul speaks about going through many troubles, facing “great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure.” It is only on Christ, Paul writes, where “we have set our hope” (2 Corinthians 1: 8-11). Similarly, in his letter to the Romans, Paul assuredly testifies in the “God of hope” (Romans 14: 13).
Indeed, today in a frantic world, Paul triumphantly reminds us that our God is a God of hope. So often, the world has banked on the gods of economics, nuclear supremacy, and politics. Humanity in good times have deified gods of success and beauty—apathetic gods with no motion and feeling. How is Paul’s God so different? Amidst hopelessness, Paul’s God of hope encounters the hopeless in God’s promises of life eternal. This God of hope gives us peace and a clear vision of a future as bright as the sunrise. In such a time as this, the God of hope breaks through the walls of fear and despair. The God of hope destroys boundaries imagined to set us apart from others. The God of hope crosses the borders of colour and creed. The God of hope stands above the politics of power. Can humanity learn a lesson?
Closer home, to the followers of Christ in our regions, our prayers to the God of hope must be seized by hope amidst the hopelessness of the present world. To have such a hope is to stop at nothing, but to find no break until all creation witnesses God’s transformational work of a new heaven and a new earth. Such is indeed the promising future in the God of hope.
Now, what can we do? Every Christian without boundaries, and particularly Christians in Nagaland state and the rest of our ancestral lands, let us act immediately.
• Let us get down on our knees to begin a prayer vigil from today onward for the intervention of the God of hope in the world. Every Christian can voluntarily mobilise our colonies, villages, and churches to begin a chain of prayer. Can all of us pray until this virus is defeated?
• Let us also continue to use common sense and listen to the recommendations of health experts. Instead of gathering in groups, let us find ways to pray at home, and perhaps connect online, until a more secure time comes our way to physically congregate for worship and fellowship. Given the circumstances, it is not a sin to cancel Sunday worship gatherings. Equally, it is wrong to coerce believers to inflict guilt upon others for not attending church services in person.
• Let us continue to observe social distancing and honour the lockdown seriously. Remember, this is not about politics. It is for our safety. In the same light, let us continue to educate those who remain callous to the threat of the virus.
• Let us continue to be stewards for each other. If not already, soon some members of our congregations will experience mental strains due to this pandemic. Pastors, counsellors, and teachers: let us share our time, and our mobile numbers, with those that will critically require us.
During this Good Fridays of the world, the God of hope assures the world of the Easter. Again, I call upon God’s people to act immediately in faith towards victory! Amen.