14 Sep Hoop of Plague to Portal of Hope
Almost all countries of the world are in the grip of the crisis due to plague of corona virus. The outbreak of the virus known as covid-19 has spread all over. In absence of any remedy, thousands of lives are lost. In some countries, the death toll has exceeded more than a thousand in a single day. Every day, number of infected persons is on the rise. World health organisation has declared the outbreak as a pandemic. The whole world has plunged into utter darkness. Never in this generation have such large number of casualties been recorded. In 1918, the last severe pandemic of influenza caused by H1N1 virus (Spanish flu) had claimed 50 million lives including about 12 millions in India.
As per report of world Health Organization (Early Report Feb 2020), the virus was first detected in three patients in a hospital in Wuhan province of China on 30 December 2019. The virus advanced its hoop all over the globe within 2-3 months. Alignment of the full-length genome sequence of the COVID-19 virus and other available genomes of Beta coronavirus showed the closest relationship with the bat SARS-like corona virus. As COVID-19 is a newly identified pathogen, there is no known pre-existing immunity in humans. Based on the epidemiologic characteristics observed so far, everyone is assumed to be susceptible, although there may be risk factors increasing susceptibility to infection. In the midst of controversy over the origin of virus, it is reported that first transfer of virus from sea food (bat/animal) market to human and thereafter human-human transmission and subsequent community transmission have extended the epidemic and rapidly assumed proportion of pandemic. There is no evidence yet whether virus commenced from animal or Lab. Medical Studies suggest that the threat of virus is not likely to end soon. Researchers in various countries are working on developing antibody to arrest the disease.
Measures are being taken to impede the magnitude of transmission of the epidemic. This unprecedented outbreak of plague has impacted human lives in many ways. Lockdown and sealing of infected hotspot areas and containment zones have brought our activities to a grinding halt. Factories are shut down. Farming is restricted. Movement of people has been barred. Schools, colleges and educational institutions have been closed. Many students were given short notices to vacate the hostels. Examinations have been postponed. People are confined to their homes. Many employees have lost their jobs and daily workers their livelihood. Migrant workers and marginal labourers have been stranded at many points. A few have taken extreme steps of ending their lives. The pandemic has crushed us economically, devastated socially and jolted psychologically. Prolonged lockdown has created fear and insecurity in the minds of youth. Graduating students from reputed institutions, who had placement offers in their hands, were suddenly left in the lurch as companies withdrew the offers. Students looking for campus placement are disappointed as job offers will be scarce during recession period. Uncertainty of future is lurking at students preparing for final examinations. Destiny of lakhs of youths appearing in or waiting for results of competitive/ professional examinations hangs in balance. There is pall of gloom all over. Many question, “Why is life given to those with no future…” (Job 3:23)
In ancient times people of Israel were in bondage in Egypt for about 430 years. During their long sojourn there, they came across different plagues over the land. But no plague harmed the children of covenant. Finally, death of the firstborn came on Egypt. Children of Israel were told to stay indoors and apply blood of the Passover lamb on the top and both sides of the door frame of their houses. In the night when the plague visited the land, the Lord saw the blood and did not permit the destroyer to enter their houses and strike them down. Lord Jesus became the passover Lamb of God and sacrificed His life on the cross once for all for sin, sickness and redemption of humanity, The blood of the living Lord is still available to claim for ourselves, family members and neighbours so that no plague or virus will strike us down. No external harm will penetrate through our doors and windows as we declare the blood of the Living Lamb of God. Now, it may be difficult to comprehend life down the road. It appears all is lost. Being in crisis situations, the psalmist believed in God and acknowledged with expectation, “My future is in your hands. . . ” (Psa. 31:15). Prophet Jeremiah, while writing letter in exiles for long years, declared God’s word saying, “For I know the plans I have for you”, says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give a future and a hope.’ (Jer 29:11).God knows the future, and His plans for us are good and full of hope. As long as God, who knows the future, goes with us as we fulfil His purpose, we can have boundless hope. We may go through pain, suffering or hardship but God will see us through to a wonderful
Rather than murmurings during the lockdown period, we can devote time in a meaningful way. Studying and meditating God’s word, devoting extended time in intercessory prayers, completing important pending tasks, spending quality time with family, joining in online prayer groups, teaching or learning any course/skills/music online, providing guidance/counselling, volunteering in the church or NGOs for distribution of ration/food to the needy, reading good spiritual/motivational books and pursuing healthy hobby/activities etc are different options before us to keep ourselves occupied, active and spiritually forward. It lifts up our eyes from the problem of immobility and despair to God of hope and strength and exudes confidence in Him. Our distress is nothing compared to insurmountable problems faced by stressed-out health professionals working tirelessly in hospitals, caring for infected patients and running risk of their lives. One of the believing doctors in the epicentre of the virus sacrificially choose to disseminate awareness about the virus despite the risks to his health and life and continued to care for patients until he was infected himself and was promoted to glory leaving behind legacy and example of serving his Master with declaration “ I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me crown of righteousness “(2 Tim 4:7). In an interview to the media on discharge from hospital, one believer, who was treated for covid-19 infection in agonising isolation for days, witnessed that Jesus is my real and true friend and companion as she felt utterly lonely and deserted as none came near her and the word of God encouraged her all through.
As the nations pass through catastrophe, many doubt and question God’s goodness. Some talk about signs of end times and others have lost hope of the way ahead. At this point of time, t we can only turn to the Living God for the healing of nations in the midst of failures and helplessness. We are locked down but not knocked out. “We are hard pressed on all sides, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair.” (2 Cor. 4:8). We know, “The Lord is my keeper; the Lord is my shade upon my right hand. The sun shall not smite by day, nor the moon by night (Psalm 121:5-6). “We believe that God promises to make something good out of the storms that bring devastation to our lives (Rom 8:28). “ If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home” (Psalm 91:9-10). He is ready to set things right (Isa 46:13). We declare that despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. (Rom 8:37). We shall overcome the crisis. We will transform this breakdown into a breakthrough. God given wisdom will drive researchers for inventions of medicine/vaccine for the epidemic. The land will experience recovery. We will rise up. We will come out strong and resilient through critical times to face new emerging world order. Our cities and nation will bounce back to life and prosperity. Deserts shall bloom again. College/universities will buzz with academic activities. New vistas of opportunities will be opened up. God will transform the valley of trouble into a gateway of hope (Hosea 2:15 NLT).
Dr. Nanda Dulal works as Group Director in an organisation in Bangalore.