Four things I have learnt as a result of living through the last six months of Covid-19
1. It is possible to be content with less. Rather than constantly striving to gain more from this life, I would do well to be content to enjoy the gift of life I already have. I can eat drink and be merry, not merely because that is all there is and tomorrow I might die, but because today I am alive, and there is food, drink and merriment there to be enjoyed. I should be thankful for all that I have already been given.
2. Much of this life is uncertain. I do not know what tomorrow will bring, still less that which will occur next week, next month, next year. I am neither the master of my fate, nor that of those I love, or those for whom I care. It is foolish to imagine or insist that I can control even my small corner of the world and, whilst not encouraging a careless disregard for the safety of others, it is foolishness for me to try. Furthermore I should not be too surprised when the unexpected occurs, regardless of how unwelcome that occurrence might be.
3. There is much I do not and can not know and plenty more that is not for me to ever know. With experts in constant disagreement and governmental advice changing every day, neither scientists nor politicians can be expected to infallibly guide us in how best to proceed, Since even science is not omniscient, wisdom dictates that I acknowledge how little I truly understand and that I should neither arrogantly pretend I invariably know best nor intolerantly criticise those who clearly don’t know either. Everyone makes mistakes and all of us are allowed to sometimes be wrong.
4. An unhealthy and excessive fear of death enslaves me. Whilst it is perhaps only human to be anxious at the prospect of my death, only ever acting is ways that reduce my chance of dying serves only to make me less humane. Furthermore, merely submitting to a new set of rules will not keep me safe and there is no point in being alive if, in so doing, I fail to live the life I have been given. Such a life would be nothing more than a living death.
Lost in the wilderness we need to be careful who we listen to. Some voices are worth listening to more than others.
“I am the fear of death, that ties you up and pins you down, that puts in you the fear of life and sucks the joy from every day you walk this earth.
You shall have no other gods but me.
You shall not listen to any voice but mine. You will keep my commandments and pay no heed to anyone who, speaking of a yoke that is easy and a burden that is light, offers you rest for your soul.
You shall distance yourself from those in need, avoid those who are sick in hospital and abandon those dying in their homes. For those who suffer and die, even those you love the most, must do so alone.
You shall not smile at a stranger in a shop.
You shall not congregate to sing your combined praises to God, neither shall you gather in numbers to celebrate love, to welcome the newly born, or to mourn the recently departed.
You shall not comfort the sorrowful with a touch.
You shall not find enjoyment in your work. On the contrary, you shall deprive yourself of your livelihood and provide for neither yourself nor your family.
You shall not honour your mother nor your father but rather be as a stranger to them.
You shall not gather together to support your favourite team, neither shall you eat, drink or be merry. Instead you will die a little every day.
You shall remember all of this constantly, never resting from it, not even for one day.”
None of this is meant to suggest that we shouldn’t act to try to reduce the spread of the virus, but our attempts to eliminate all risk from life are not without significant adverse effects, some of which compromise what it means to be alive. The fear of death permeates all of life.
Oh that there was one who might free us from this fear of death, for then we would be free indeed.
It is, however, my firm belief that there is such a one. It is my certain hope that His words are true. Jesus said “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. [John 11:25-26]. He did not come back from the dead after a brief visit there only to have to return at some later date. Rather he defeated death as he passed through it before emerging safely on the other side. Our hope should be that we are saved, not from death, but through death, by the one who has gone before us. And that is why we should listen to Him when he says, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades” [Revelation 1:17-18]
Therein lies freedom – true freedom that will last.
Therein lies life – life in all its fullness.