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Discovering God's Kingdom – Growing the Church

Sunday 22 March

What Does Faith in a Coronavirus Pandemic Look Like?

So it's my day off - my thinking and writing day - and I'm really not getting very much done. The irony is that I'm working on the idea of a dystopian model – I should be inspired!

That's because right now it feels like coronavirus has taken over the world, the eye of the storm being people getting ill and the worries we have about our vulnerable loved ones. We had a suspected case in a friend's family last weekend and one of the team I manage and someone in my church group both seem to have picked it up.

The next circle out is the impact on society. What it will mean in our workplaces and communities, and what will the longer-term effect be on healthcare and the economy? When it's over, will the bottom have fallen out of the economy and will there be scores of business failures?

The wider cumulative effect is feeling like a drain on our attention that makes it nigh on impossible to focus on anything else. I'm not living in fear, I'm just entirely distracted. It feels like normal life has been placed on hold. Flippin' 'eck, I can't even go and watch local non-league football!

So here are a few thoughts in dealing with the blur of it all.

It's Not Just You

One of the side effects of all this is people worrying that they are worrying. Worrying is, frankly, a very natural reaction and not one people should then be punishing themselves over. I for one am reassured that our government's response appears to be science-led unlike America's, which appears to be led by whatever comes off the top of Donald Trump's very silly head. I suggest we all keep following the advice we're getting.

People Matter

Times like this show what matters and that's people, not stuff, events, even football. It's heartening to hear the many tales of people looking out for their neighbours. I hope a positive side effect of all this is more of this viral neighbourliness.

We Are Made to Need Each Other

This is one of the things I say like a scratched record, but it's true. Just as we need to squash the voice that says we are silly if we worry, we also need to distrust our instinct to sort things out ourselves. Let's be honest we're often more comfortable offering help than receiving it, but at times like this we are all likely to need some help at some point. We need to learn that's not just okay, it's normal and that the tendency of society to make us more and more independent is a big pile of pap. More specifically and with reference to panic buying, when we come together we always find there is enough to go round.

We Need to do Healthy Things

Okay so I may have stockpiled cider and crème eggs at the weekend but despite anticipating the cancellation of the Sheffield half marathon, I still got a run in. There are things we know are good for us that we need to keep doing, as simple as turning off the 24 hour news and going for a walk round the block. Conversely, we need to guard against the stuff that is bad for us – specifically people spewing negative stuff on social media. There are always critics and conspiracists sitting safely behind their keyboards. What we need is stuff that will help; they won't offer that. Ignore them.

We Need to Keep the Faith

What is faith at a time like this? Is it televangelists offering to send healing through your TV? Is it denial that coronavirus is a thing that can affect us?

Faith for me, in times like this, is the belief that this is not all there is, even when it feels like it. We pray that through good practice and scientific breakthroughs, the spread can be limited. But we know through history that outbreaks like this are a part of our world.

We are privileged to live in a time of such advanced healthcare, yet we know that sickness and death will visit us all, whether we like it or not.

Faith is knowing that God offers to be with us through it all, through uncertainty and in suffering. In all of it, God wants to steady our hearts and turn our focus outwards to others who we can stand with.

One of the things that helps me in a time of anxiety is to tell myself that it will pass; it will not be forever.

As I do that, I'm reminded of the situations that have passed, the times God has seen me through. Sometimes the outcome is a victory, sometimes it's survival.

Right now, this sucks but coronavirus will not have the final word.

by Dave Luck

Dave Luck is the author of 'What Happens Now? A Journey Through Unimaginable Loss', and blogs weekly on http://www.daveluckwrites.co.uk.
Follow him on Twitter @dluckwrite or on Facebook at the 'Daveluckwrites' page.