Is the Coronavirus God’s Judgement?
This last blog contains some requested commentary on the “big picture”, as well as some practical “advice” for thriving in the midst of disaster.
There is a lot of doom and gloom discussion taking place in social media and in the news. There’s also a good deal of pollyanna wishful thinking happening in the same venues. What’s your take? A good number of folks have asked me my take, so I thought I would end this three part series with a straight forward answer. In short, I don’t know! And, neither do you. But, I do know a few things that might be helpful. That is not to say that we as believing followers of Christ can’t learn from this and assuming we get another shot at doing things differently, we realize that some significant changes need to take place in the United States and the American Christian Church.
Years ago I was involved with Chinese Christians who worship this great God Yahweh (El Shaddai) and who diligently and daily follow Jesus – in secret. In secret, because they lived under the regime of a government that persecuted them and daily made efforts to quash the Gospel and kill and imprison them wherever they were found. Americans struggle many times with the idea that evil exists in the world and that sometimes people can just do evil things. This also makes it difficult for our culture to embrace the fact that we need to be prepared for “bad things” before they happen.
In the last blog (part 2), I shared with you that the winning mind required both focus and deliberate intention. Prosperity tends to cause these elements of the wining mind to diminish and even become distorted. One Chinese national secretly approached me and shared his concerns that American Christians and business people made he and his colleagues very nervous. I asked him what he meant, and he shared that Americans in particular really do not understand the threats his people who desire to be free, endure from the Chinese government. There are no telling how many persecuted Christians have suffered because of American naivety, he intimated. The odd dynamic looking at this from a risk manager’s point of view, is that much of this dynamic happens under the auspices of “good intentions.” In times like these, good intentions will not help anyone and may even hinder progress moving forward and out of crisis. So here’s the problem… and, here’s how it relates to the question of whether this is God’s judgment or not.
Unity and Faith.
For decades, American Christians have been socializing Church and American Government has been playing with Evil. We have greatly mistaken social action for faith, and pluralism for freedom. We (meaning our nation and the Church, which for many years has been the moral and ethical backbone of the nation) have continued to compromise our collective integrity. The economic trends today as a result of the virus originating in China speak volumes to our complacent and lackadaisical attitude toward offshoring our goods, services and even many of our pharmaceuticals (medication manufacturing). Look to Amazon to see that Americans are awakening (again) and pushing back by refusal to purchase Chinese goods, such as medical supplies and food. Does this matter? Yes. The collective mind and conscience of Americans is changing. Shifting. This is critical in both business and the future of the Church in America.
Does this relational dynamic with nations that we know are seeking our cultural demise seem logical in the shadow of the present crisis? No. Who would disagree with this now? It didn’t seem any more logical before the crisis either – but, we did it and justified it by calling it “global community, global commerce, and good will.” How about oil production and support for a global war that the United States has funded and sacrificed to sustain for more than two decades? I once was denied access to Saudi Arabia, even after having been granted a work visa. Why? Because I am an outspoken Christian and had a few years before been in Israel to train. Yet, we turn the cheek in ways that even Jesus himself did not teach.
The United States has compromised her beliefs and morals now for so long that we justify anything we do by putting it between economic and “moral” bookends. We’ve forgotten that our adversaries continue along the same wicked paths they always have, while we continue to live in Pollyanna, and believe it will just all be OK one day.
Unity and Faith must be restored immediately. It’s the difference between the two fishermen I described for you in the second blog. One was deliberate in his intention and focused on exactly what he needed to do to achieve his objective. Here’s the key: He didn’t learn to fish the day I saw him fishing for his family and to put food on the table. He learned those skills and accumulated the gear and abilities long before crisis told him he must fish. While this example is an acute and much smaller matter than the pandemic as a global crisis, the analogy still stands.
How we emerge from this crisis will depend significantly on how well we as a culture are able to unify on many fronts (with each other and with our opposing political and religious views), resolve our differences and how we choose to work together – or not. The truth is, our scientific communities are on the front lines of a war that we can not see or engage outside the realm of defensive action. Their success is going to be based on a single factor – cooperation (unity). In the first blog of this trilogy, I mentioned the need for working together. Our culture must begin to think differently about the world, without becoming isolationist-minded. I could write a book in whole on this topic, but for this writing, let’s just say, if our communities don’t pull together, our nation will fail.
But what about Faith, and why does this matter? Our faith-based communities in the United States have historically provided much of the backbone necessary to operate and sustain the nation and the nation’s place in the world. The benevolence of the nation, rooted in the Christian heritage has provided that foundational element necessary for diplomacy and relational networking. The United States has been one, if not the most benevolent society in the history of the world. The current crisis will tempt the United States to become un-united, more dysfunctional, and to pull further away from the world at large. This choice would lead to the end of our culture and nation. It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen. Historically, one need look no further than France in World War I and II to understand that appeasement policies lead to weak states and defeated nations. In addition, compromise of morals and values lead to national crisis and decline, which no historian and well-educated scholar would argue this point. Just look to Rome or Greece to close that argument.
So what do we do and how can we help in the fight against a seen and an unseen enemy? To those of the warrior mind and ethos, it seems lame and even lacking initiative, but building community through all the means at our disposal is really the first step. A passive assault on division becomes our greatest strength and an offensive defense. Maybe at this point, we can see how the Churches play a critical role in the nations future. Here’s a few practical matters to consider regarding your mental initiative and a few notes for community and business leaders.
Your Winning Mind
The American mind must change. The small acute scenarios above illustrate non-rational thinking in the American ethos and worldview. Yet, Americans cannot afford to become isolationist in culture either. Whether you are a Christian or not, you have benefited from Christian values and morals at work in this nation. Is the Coronavirus God’s judgement? In the end, does it really matter? In the Old Testament of the Bible, each time God sent judgement on any people group, His people or others, His intention was to cause those affected to change their behavior or to focus on Him intentionally. While that’s simplifying matters, it still goes to the issue that the United States has been living a global pipe-dream for many decades now and change will be required, if the nation and her people are to recover. The same is true for the Church, both globally and nationally. One estimate only days old stated that as many as 40% of American churches could close their doors as a result of the pandemic.
The mind is the key to your survival and to the survival of the nation. Fighting an enemy we cannot see creates stress and anxiety for even the most seasoned veteran professionals. It’s critical in crisis to slow down and think things through. Stop watching the talking heads on television and involve your self in proactive, but realistic talk groups. You can do this via social media, conference and video calls, or in some cases, in person. Take time to think about positive things and those things that make you happy, those things that bring you peace. This needs to be deliberate. Stay off the “grid” as much as you can and don’t fall into the trap of “denial.”
This is a real crisis and you need to treat it as a lethal threat to your life and family. But, you don’t need to panic or become depressed. Work hard to do things that tell your mind your circumstances are “normal.” Do as many normal things during the day as you can. Some examples might be, take a walk, talk to your family and friends on the phone about things other than the COVID-19 threat, play games with your family, take a short drive to just get out and get some fresh air, read a book or watch a movie, fix a great meal, work in the yard… In times like these, it’s easy to forget to do these things, and we go into “maintenance mode.” Don’t let that happen to you or your family.
One approach analogy could be summed up by saying, “don’t watch the horizon.” You may see it a time or two, but this may also be deceptive and cause you more frustration and anxiety, than peace. In other words, focus on what is right in front of you – today. If you have to, take it day by day, hour by hour, or if you are struggling, take it in real-time increments that allow you to breathe and focus. This is critically important. Focus and deliberate intent can help you to develop Unity & Faith, which will ultimately result in healing, peace and restoration. You can do this. So, here’s a few suggestions on how.
A Note for Shepherds
Well, this is a conclusion to a short trilogy on mindset and leading in crisis. You can make a difference if you put a little effort into helping others and you, yourself become determined not to worry, panic or lose your head. So what can you do to help others? Here’s a few things to consider:
- Provide sound guidance and teaching on-line. Focus on topics that build up confidence and strength and stay clear of topics that point out doom and gloom and threat. However, also stay away from Pollyanna and don’t give false hope which will only lead people to be foolish and to do things that will harm themselves or others. Teach confidence.
- Coach your people to exercise, workout, train and stay strong. This is important in managing stress and depression – both of which are difficult to control during times like this.
- Eat right and keep good nutrition as a central value in personal crisis maintenance. This is also important, as people tend to eat more junk food and sugar during crisis. This can be very dangerous for some, but it can also affect mood and enhance mood disorders. Nutrition is a key element to surviving crisis.
- Create Small Groups or support your organization’s existing small groups. Encourage your people to support each other and to make sure that each and every person is cared for and no one is left behind.
- Food & Supplies: Don’t horde, but do store food and reasonably prepare and remain prepared. Order your food and have it ready for pick up instead of going to the grocery. Don’t forget to wear gloves when you pick it up. Place it in containers in your vehicle and then with gloves and cleaner, clean it off before mixing it with the rest of your supplies. If you can, allow your food to sit separately from the rest for four days or so before mixing your supplies.
Social distancing is important and should always be considered and practiced. If you are in a controlled environment, social contact can also be critical to emotional survival. Small Groups of people should always be careful when coming together. It’s best to stay at home right now. It’s important in your small groups to remain vigilant and aware of where you go and what you come in contact with at any given time.
Always remember that your mind is your greatest weapon and your strongest tool. Keep it healthy! How you think and how you handle matters emotionally will have a direct impact on the decisions you make. Stay strong by keeping your mind and emotions strong. This will pass – but the truth is, no one knows when this will end. If you can control your need for this to be over, and rather, just accept the fact that it is a battle you cannot control at the moment, you will do much better. There are professionals fighting this battle. Pray for them. Do your part by helping everyone in your sphere of influence. Help them to remain calm and focused. As you help others, your own mind and body will follow and benefit.
In conclusion, does it really matter if this pandemic is a result of God’s judgement? Think about it. If it is, we must change. If it is an act of Evil, we must change. If it is neither and a result of man’s careless actions on the earth, we must change. If it is an act of war by a hostile nation, we must change. In the end, we must change if we are to continue moving life forward on this planet. I choose to believe and for the most part see this event as an act of evil – both human induced and supported by spiritual influence. I also choose to believe that regardless of the source of the event, I can find peace and confidence in knowing that my soul is safe with God through my faith in Jesus Christ. I hope whatever your belief, you will find peace in this time.
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