Over the last few weeks, where nations have gone into lockdown in an effort to battle the relentless spread of the coronavirus Covid 19, we have seen a dramatic decrease in pollution (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/mar/23/coronavirus-pandemic-leading-to-huge-drop-in-air-pollution). At the same time, in Northwick Park Hospital – overwhelmed by a flood of coronavirus patients in the last three weeks, that have resulted in a high number of deaths – staff have reportedly now started praying before starting their shifts (https://www.itv.com/news/2020-03-24/coronavirus-outbreak-doctor-coronavirus-hit-hospital-pleads-temporary-staff-help/ ). In the UK’s ‘Godless’ climate, where doctors and nurses of faith who have dared pray with their patients have found themselves hauled up before disciplinary bodies and even struck off, this open acknowledgment of mankind’s need for God, and reliance on His power, is startling.
‘There are no atheists if foxholes’. Though the person who first voiced this sentiment remains unknown, the aphorism dates back to WW1 and the horrors of the trenches. But it is equally true today. In times of extreme fear, when all else fails, men and women turn to God, asking help of a higher power.
Over the last century, as science has advanced, we have increasingly believed ourselves to be invincible. In consequence, growing numbers of men and women have rejected God. There’s no ‘Creator’, secularists have said witheringly. He’s a myth – a giant fairy in the sky. We are architects of our own destiny. We can re-orchestrate life and control the future. Most of all, they assert, we don’t need the outmoded moral values that have governed society up to now, and whose only function has been to maintain patriarchy and ownership.
So in place of God, mankind has put ‘Self’, making an idol of immorality and sexual licence, destroying the inconvenient unborn, treating the ‘useless’ sick and disabled with casual inhumanity, dressed up as concern. The truth is, we have polluted the land and fed the gathering dark by our mindless worship and veneration of evil.
We have sinned.
But now this virus, which demonstrates to us how ‘small’ and insignificant we really are, is clearing the pollution – both physical and spiritual. Though the situation in which we find ourselves is very terrible, it also contains within it the gift of a merciful God. Who is not mocked, who remains sovereign – and who could bring this crisis to an end in a heartbeat, if we only repented and asked Him to intervene.
Our God is a merciful God, who longs to draw men and women back to Himself, and to respond. He doesn’t will for any to be lost. And perhaps, hard as it seems, that may be one of the reasons He is allowing us to undergo this present trial – because our trauma and panic appears to be clearing the smog of deceit cast by the evil one.
Doctors and nurses praying before their shifts. Record numbers of people joining online prayer groups and services transmitted over the internet. People everywhere crying out to God for help! Who would have thought it?
The question is, when this crisis has passed – as it will – will we have learnt the lessons? Will we repent and turn from sin, pledging ourselves henceforth to follow God? Or will we simply breathe a huge sigh of relief and go back to the way it all was before? Will we continue our worship of sin?
If we do, the next crisis may well prove our last. God’s will is to save, and He is giving us another – perhaps last – chance. Let us use it wisely before it is too late.