I had not been planning to write about this. I thought that maybe, this blog would be one place where you wouldn’t find the name of this virus. I have been praying for the world amid the pandemic situation, and for a while, I didn’t see a commentary here as something I needed to do. But recently, I changed my mind about that. I am very appreciative of what God is doing among believers in this time. I started to feel a conviction that I should make a post here, not for the sake of my own perspective on the situation, but rather, to show appreciation to God for what I perceive Him to be doing in the world now, and to get the word out in case it could be an inspiration to other people.
What really stands out to me about the COVID-19 pandemic is how jarring it is to normal sensibilities. First is how swiftly the virus evaded first-line containment measures of the modern era, which were successful at preventing several new viruses over the last twenty years from spreading widely beyond the regions they originated (such as SARS and MERS).
After this current virus evaded the initial containment efforts at a dizzying rate, what became equally bewildering was the speed at which the world started shutting places down. Now, I recognize that governments are doing the right thing by going to extreme measures to mitigate the spread of the virus, but still, the idea of self-inducing a steep economic contraction goes against the usual, expected tactic of democratic governments, which is to be slow in implementing an agenda for the sake of appeasing different personal and economic concerns among the population.
But aside from the COVID-19 pandemic, the jarring of sensibilities has been a theme of the last several years. Perplexing political drama and elections, extreme weather, and the rapid spread of bizarre conspiracy theories have created an impassioned, often crazed environment with different viewpoints fighting for attention. But the debates over these phenomena have also caused people to investigate matters and see what they really believe vs. what they assumed to be true based on what they were previously told.
So what do I perceive God to be doing amid all of this? Well, over the last several decades, Evangelical Christianity’s outlook for the world was growing increasingly negative. There was a growing sense that the world had turned away from proper moral and spiritual values and that cataclysmic end-times events were on the horizon. But at the same time, many Christians were also praying for a turnaround; that somehow God would bring people to repentance so that countries could be blessed.
Now, I am not saying that I necessarily agree with these Christians’ assessment of the world today. Nor do I believe that all the attitudes and beliefs which they want for the world to have are necessarily what God is looking to introduce. But nevertheless, I believe that God is responding to the passionate prayers of many believers for the world by bringing in a new era.
But in order to bring forth this realignment, there have to be some changes in societies’ thought patterns. The old dichotomies in worldviews have to be shaken up. The old lines of reasoning in the debates over conservatism vs. liberalism, capitalism vs. socialism, religion vs. secularism, have to be transformed. Although these various worldviews and ideologies will not cease to exist, the rationales and tactics that they employ will be overhauled.
As much as many people desire peace, unity, common-ground, etc., sometimes you cannot overcome polarization with mediation. Sometimes, the sources of polarization have to be thrown into chaos, in order to create an opportunity for something new to emerge. And I believe that God has been working through the prayers of believers in recent years to seize the opportunity that is being created in this era.
Speaking of the prayers of believers, on the internet I have seen that there are tremendous prayer movements going on against the COVID-19 pandemic right now, beyond anything I have seen in my time following Christian ministries online. In keeping with the theme of this time in history, what I expect is that sensibilities are going to be shocked once again by how rapidly the virus fades out after the peak, and how quickly economies recover. Many people are going to be dazed for a little while, but this will create a backdrop for new ways of thinking about life, faith, and the world to emerge.