Lessons From Living Through A Time Of Plague By Gary Clayton

Before the pandemic, my family had a number of concerns. But when all four of us caught COVID-19, we had only one – survival!

So, having emerged from this coronavirus-dominated season, I found myself wondering what – if anything – this challenging period has taught us: 

  • that ‘the wages of sin is death’, as Romans 6:23 tells us, with Adam’s life-threatening ailment passing itself on to every human being, ‘for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23). 

So maybe it’s time people realised that sin is an even deadlier enemy than coronavirus – and belief in Jesus, the cure. As CS Lewis pointed out, ‘God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.’

  • that, although some of those who got COVID-19 were mercifully spared, we’ll all die of something sometime. As a friend pointed out, “We’re all on Death Row; we just don’t know the execution date!” 
  • that, although we may think life revolves around us and our actions, it doesn’t! We are totally dependent on God – the Giver of life – and need to look to Him.

As Revelation 3:17 reminds us, ‘You say, “I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.” But you do not realise that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.’ Without the breath God gives us each day, we are nothing. 

  • that, despite the propaganda disseminated in the press, neither the media, the ‘science’ (which tends to depend on which scientists you listen to), nor our own politicians can actually control events. 

As Psalm 146:3-4 warns, ‘Do not put your trust in… human beings, who cannot save. When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing.’ 

  • that the presence of coronavirus is surely a wake-up call to a complacent, spiritually somnolent society that pays little heed to God or the future. 

James 4:13-15 says, ‘Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow… You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”’ 

How often do we make plans, then ask God to bless them, rather than asking Him first what those plans should be?

  • that it’s often been said ‘there are no atheists in foxholes’. History shows that uncertainty and adversity can be an effective means of bringing people to their knees, and into Jesus’ arms. 

As the refrain from Psalm 107 reminds us, ‘Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and He delivered them from their distress.’

  • that, as 1 Corinthians 12:26 explains, ‘if one part suffers, every part suffers with it’, with Romans 12:12-15 telling us to be ‘joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer’ as we ‘rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn.’

So, even though we in the UK haven’t been invaded by Putin or executed by the Taliban, Christians should expect war and persecution – sadly – with believers supporting those undergoing a ‘fiery ordeal’ (1 Peter 4:12-16).

Although we can find consolation in the fact that God ‘makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; He burns the shields with fire’ (Psalm 46:9), Matthew 24:6 warns that we will nevertheless ‘hear of wars and rumours of wars.’ 

Indeed, as 1 Thessalonians 5:3 cautions, ‘While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labour pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.’ 

We saw this in the wars of 1914 and 1939 – the Great War being all the more poignant because Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, King George V of England and Tsar Nicholas II of Russia were all cousins, and four of Queen Victoria’s granddaughters were married to the monarchs of Greece, Norway, Romania and Spain.

Extraordinary, too, is the fact that the Kingdom of Saxony’s 1815-1918 national anthem; Russia’s 1816-1833 imperial anthem; the German empire’s 1871-1918 national anthem; the national anthem of Liechtenstein; the royal anthem of Norway, and Switzerland’s former national anthem all had the same melody as ‘God Save The Queen’!

It’s a reminder that, however different the nations might be, our common humanity unites us. 

Gary Clayton is married to Julie, the father of Christopher (18) and Emma (15) and works for Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF). To learn how MAF pilots deliver help, hope and healing to some of the world’s most isolated areas, visit www.maf-uk.org

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