COVID-19: PEACE IN TROUBLING TIMES
While we may not have an immediate answer to every distressing and perplexing thing we face right now, we can trust that God is in control and that He will be with us all through.
Are you feeling like you’re caught in a fog, with stagnant air and poor visibility? Do you feel that rather than the cloudiness abating, darkness is closing in? Is your sense of desperation getting out of hand? Are you afraid of losing control and breaking down?
This is what lots of folks are battling with now. Folks who woke up one morning to hear the government was locking down everything for two weeks, then another two weeks or one month, then another God knows how long, in order to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic caused by the coronavirus, SARS-Cov2. Even for those who have food and are living in safe neighbourhoods, the psychological toll of being cut off from their regular routine, the anxiety over fast depleting savings and mounting bills, and the uncertainty of what they will find after the shelter-in-place orders are lifted is heavy. Employers of labour are laying off staff and people are wondering if they will be part of the next round of devastating statistics in that regard.
Some of us are hanging by a thread. We are earnestly hoping we and our loved ones don’t succumb to COVID-19 or any other sickness for that matter at this time when health facilities are said to be stretched in many countries and many forms of care and procedures have been labelled elective or non-essential. We are simply not sure what to do if we come down with symptoms for anything right now. Even the COVID-19 that all attention is on, getting tested alone is an uphill task in many countries.
The chaotic way government business is run in this country and elsewhere and the incongruity between the unduly delayed response to this pandemic at the start and the current knee-jerk responses from the federal and state governments in the face of unsurprising increased infection rates is also quite annoying. Conflicting directives from state and federal governments leave people angry and disoriented. It’s a constant search for information to know where you can go and where you cannot; which businesses and markets are open, on which days and for how long; which cadres of public servants are resuming work and who is not …
And while people worry about their livelihoods, assaults on other areas of their lives are being launched. Freedoms once taken for granted are being encroached on and no one knows how all this will end.
In Nigeria, we have just heard that the government has signed up for drug and vaccine trials by WHO. When a couple of French doctors suggested that COVID-19 vaccine trials be done in Africa, everyone was up in arms here. Now the government has signed up without the knowledge of the citizens. Given the lack of transparency in government here and the high level of illiteracy, how are we sure that informed consent will be obtained from those used for such trials? If my loved one is taken for treatment, I would like the person and I to have a say in the treatment they receive and not for them to be used as guinea pigs for some randomised clinical trials where they may end up receiving placebos and die. We do know that people in government and other elite will be excluded from these trials because they live by a different set of standards and hardly obey the rules they enforce on others.
Equally disconcerting is the news that the National Assembly is rushing through a bill on the control of infectious diseases that gives wide-ranging powers to the NCDC and police to, among other things, forcibly test and treat people, plus shut down organisations, including places of worship, as part of efforts to tackle infectious disease outbreaks. When a WHO official said they would be going from house to house to check for who is sick and take them away for isolation, it sounded preposterous and far-fetched. But the prospect of that becomes more likely with the compulsory test and treatment provided for in the proposed bill. Imagine being compelled to let health and security officials into your home with the possibility of taking away your child or spouse. How can we be sure of the integrity and accuracy of tests and treatments from such a Big Brother apparatus? We have a poor record on human rights violations and we witness abuse of power by government officials everyday. This can only make it worse.
In some countries, the Chinese model of using drones and cell phone towers to monitor people, check their temperatures, document their contacts and enforce lockdown/social distancing is in place. The whole world is being pushed to become one big police state with talk of mandatory vaccinations, ID chips, etc. The whole thing is just so unnerving.
But in the midst of all this, we have an anchor for our souls that is sure and steadfast, Jesus Christ our Lord (Hebrews 6:18-20). While we may not have an immediate answer to every distressing and perplexing thing we face right now, we can trust that He is in control and that He will be with us all through. This is the time to lean wholly on Him and let Him carry the weight of our troubles and fears.
“Cast all your cares upon Him; for He cares for you.” – 1 Peter 5:7 (paraphrased)
“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33 (KJV)
Instead of worrying about tomorrow, we should leave everything in God’s hands and know that He will have the final say. When we do that, He will provide the coping mechanism suitable to each of us and help us rise to every challenge that comes.
I, therefore, pray for you and I that the peace of God which passes understanding will keep our hearts and minds; that God will protect us and our families from sickness, hoodlums and government overreach; that He will comfort those of us who have been bereaved in this crisis and that He will truly be our Shepherd, our Great Provider, at this trying time in Jesus’ name.
I also pray that He will guide our leaders to do right by us, that He will grant them wisdom to implement policies that will bring us out of the pit we’re in and not bury us the more in Jesus’ name. Amen and amen.
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:7 (KJV)