This article was first published in the Marathon Mercury on March 18, 2020.
I’ve been listening to a lot of talk about Coronavirus over the past week and it seems like folks are either unconcerned, and bothered by how seriously it’s being taken… “Really? In Marathon? I can’t believe it’s not that big of a deal!” Or folks are feeling overwhelmed by anxiety for elderly relatives, neighbours with infants, and friends travelling abroad for March Break. The anxiety that surrounds disasters like pandemics can cause us to ask: Where is God in all of this? Where is God in the midst of COVID-19?
Well, let me tell you about where I’ve seen God at work, and where I believe Jesus’ teachings can help us know what to do during a confusing time of unknowns.
I see God at work in the lives of our health care workers. Yes, in the work of the doctors who’re trying their best to stem the outbreak of the virus across the country, but also in the work of the receptionists who are the first point of contact for those who may be ill. The nurses and personal support workers who provide so much of that hands-on-care. But also the custodians who are working overtime to ensure those places we consider “safe places”, like our emergency rooms and clinics, don’t become points of infection.
I see God at work in the concern for the immune-compromised among us. I’m so encouraged by the texts, calls and chats I’ve had from folks who are at lesser risk of serious complications from the virus sharing their worry for those in our community who are. I’ve also heard a number of folks voice their concern for the Indigenous communities around Marathon, recognizing that the truth of the Canadian health care landscape is that Indigenous communities who are underserved are at much greater risk during a time like this.
I see Jesus’ teachings about caring for widows and orphans being a key rallying cry for Christians right now. We may be discouraged from gathering in large groups, but it is imperative now more than ever that we care for our neighbours, especially our neighbours who don’t have much in the way of support systems.
I also see Jesus’ call to name and give our anxieties over to God as more important than ever. Letting our fear control us, driving us to hoard food or medical supplies (like masks or hand sanitizer) will just make a bad situation worse. It’ll ensure that those who are in need either won’t be able to afford, or even find, what may end up being a life sustaining product for them.
So, to paraphrase that teacher from Nazareth, take care of one another, and look to God with your fears and anxieties. Knowing how much, or little, we control in a situation is an important part of accepting our humanity. All we can do is follow the advice of medical professionals and live our lives with prayer and thanksgiving.
By Selina Mullin, Congregational Minister at St. John’s United