Given the impact the Coronavirus is having in the media and on people’s day to day lives, it seems appropriate that I say something about it. Although as I write this on the 14th March I am fully aware that by the time you read this the situation might look very different given the rate things are developing.
In situations like this we do see both the best and the worst in people. on the one hand we have people panic buying, buying far more than they are likely to need, depriving others of those things. One of my friends described walking into his mum’s spare bedroom to find it filled with that most valuable commodity, toilet paper! She had purchased at least 240 rolls of it in the panic! There will also be people who will not take proper precautions when needed such as self-isolating when they ought because it would mean losing time, money, or it would just be an unwanted upheaval on their lives. This behaviour is ultimately selfishness. It says my wants and my needs are of greater importance than the needs and wellbeing of others.
Fortunately, on the other hand we can also see the best from other people. I just watched a miniature documentary filmed by a guy in Wuhan, who alongside 50 thousand others are risking being infected to get doctors, nurses, or medication to those who need it. Those in the medical profession are risking their health to serve the wellbeing of others. Things like this does give you hope, when you see people putting the interests of others before themselves. This is love and at times like this, love is what we need more of. Love for our fellow human beings! (and perhaps a bit more toilet paper as well).
We often speak about love as a feeling, but feelings have little to do with love, at least as it is understood in the Bible. Love is a choice. It is a choice which we have to make over and over again. A choice to put the interests of others, their wants, their needs, their wellbeing before our own.
Loving our family and friends is a relatively easier thing to do, but loving the stranger is harder. Loving our enemies is another thing altogether!
Yet this is what Jesus modelled so perfectly in the way he loved us. Jesus came to serve our greatest needs, yet we rejected him, beat him, and nailed him to the cross. Yet even though he had many opportunities to escape the crucifixion, he did not take them, because he knew that his death was necessary to serve those who hated him. For through his death the guilt of our selfishness and our rebelliousness would be placed on him so we could be restored to a relationship with God and receive life eternal.
This is the perfect model of love, and a love Jesus calls us to as well. A love that serves others before ourselves. In the face of the Coronavirus, we have the choice before us; to act selfishly or to love. What will you choose?
People frequently remark at the loss of community within our villages; this virus is an opportunity to do something about it as we put love into practice by looking to the needs of those around us.
There are many within our communities such as some of the elderly and those who have underlining health conditions for whom this virus is a real threat. So growing numbers of people around us are beginning to self-isolate for their own protection. Yet many have no means to get groceries or picking up prescriptions without leaving their homes.
So, I challenge you to check in with those you know who are vulnerable in your corner of the world. Check that they are ok, and offer to run errands for them, let them know they can call on you if they need help.
There will also be people who will not be able to work as a result of the virus leading to a financially challenging time. Perhaps you could help them financially, or perhaps you could do a grocery shop for them. The important thing is to do something, no matter how small to help them at their time of need.
With all the stockpiling people have done, there are basic provisions that are no longer available. For some this is a bigger problem than it is for others. Allergies can mean some people live off homemade bread, yet many of the ingredients are now in short supply. For the sake of love, I urge you to share and be generous with all that you have at this time and look out for those who may have need.
Think about those people working in our hospitals, who in the coming weeks will be working horrendous hours, perhaps you can offer to cook for them, or help with child care.
If we choose to love, we will come through this period of time a much stronger community than when we entered it. The choice is yours. How will you respond?