Pain is an unwelcome friend.
Nobody likes it when it shows up, but it is often the alarm that tells us something else is wrong.
Without pain we may not got to the doctor before it is too late, and we wouldn’t know to pull our hand out of the fire, or to stop running on a bad knee.
Pandemics are a sharp, undeniable pain we cannot ignore.
They are an alarm for a problem we have learned to live with in ordinary times.
Between 250,000 and 500,000 people around the world die each year from the flu, but somehow we have decided that is acceptable. The sad reality is that the pain hasn’t been bad enough yet to focus the full attention of humanity on solving the problem of this part of nature’s rebellion against God and man.
A pandemic, particularly one like we are currently facing, forces the world to focus all our attention and all our resources on defeating the virus–and perhaps all viruses–because what is at stake is not a small minority of people we don’t know, but us, our friends and family, and our society as whole. In short, the pandemic unites the world in the act of reconciling a corrupted nature to man and God, which is one of the purposes of the kingdom of God.
When we understand this it is easier to see the current pandemic and its global disruption as an opportunity to advance the Kingdom. It also helps us to see the importance of our part in preventing the viruses spread through isolation and social distancing because it not only saves lives but it buys more time for scientists and doctors to work toward a cure or vaccine, or maybe something more important like a cure for all viral infections. And, all of that advances the purpose of the kingdom of God by bringing reconciliation in the fourth separation of nature’s rebellion against man and God.
As I’ve also written here, we are to work with King Jesus to bring reconciliation to the world in these four separations. We are to help others be reconciled to God, reconciled to themselves, reconciled to others, and reconciled to nature. We have been given the ministry of reconciliation. 2 Cor. 5:18.
For now, for most of us, that ministry consists of, ironically, obeying shelter-in-place orders and staying away from other people. For others–scientists and doctors–it involves applying all their learning, experience, and ingenuity, infused with inspiration from God, to find a way to turn back this effect of the curse once and for all.
One of the unique features of the work of reconciliation in the fourth separation is the extent to which Christians must work with non-Christians in achieving it. As Jesus taught, the wheat and tares must work together until the kingdom matures and fully manifests on the earth. Matt. 13:28-30. So, Christian and non-Christian doctors and scientist work together to heal the sick and find cures for the diseases that afflict them.
This pandemic is as disruption and for many a disaster. Many will lose their jobs; others will lose their lives, but the whole world is now focused on reconciling nature to man and to God, whether they fully realize it or not, and that is a very good thing. GS