We are living in uncertain times, unprecedented upheaval, uncharted territory.
The Coronavirus pandemic needs no introduction – nor the COVID-19 disease that the virus produces.
Our media and social media channels are drip feeding us fear and panic. Many people are sick and dying; others have been bereaved. Public health services are stretched to capacity; medical personnel are putting themselves at risk.
A new vocabulary has entered our lexicon, with phrases like ‘self-isolation’, ‘social distancing’, and ‘flattening the curve’, which were unheard of only a few weeks ago.
New rhythms and routines are being established, as we adjust to life in lockdown at home. And if you’re anything like me, your life is probably filled with endless screens, in a constant juggle between Skype and Zoom and Google Hangouts and WhatsApp and Messenger and Facetime and texts and emails – and even an occasional-old-fashioned-phone-call!
When we look back at history, we can see how plagues have swept a destructive trail through nations and continents in the past. Yet it’s probably safe to say that none of us, alive today, have ever lived through a global plague like this one before.
It’s all too easy to anticipate the worst.
But what if we start making a conscious choice to seek out some of the best?
While we may never understand the mystery of why God has allowed this plague to seed and spread around the world, not all the news is bad news, and the good news needs to be shared. So this post aims to give glimpses of goodness, kindness and generosity in the midst of this pandemic – by setting out six reasons for hope:
1. Prayer is increasing
Christians around the world are calling on God to bring an end to the Coronavirus – including these moving scenes of prayer from a hospital car park in the USA – and recent data suggests that more than 200,000 people have recovered from COVID-19 so far, including over 90 percent of China’s infected.
A new academic research paper from Denmark also shows that the number of Internet searches for the word ‘prayer’ have skyrocketed, in 75 different countries, for every 80,000 new registered cases of COVID-19. A preliminary draft of the paper is titled, ‘In Crisis, We Pray: Religiosity and the COVID-19 Pandemic‘ and I particularly like this quote from it: “The rise in prayer intensity supersedes what the world has seen for years.”
2. Music is increasing
Then there’s music making and sharing, which has taken on a whole new lease of life: Serenades from balconies in Italy. Bagpipes from the suburbs in Canada. Guitar-strumming police officers in Spain. Mini-concerts created and shared online by university students.
This dad and daughter duo in the USA, who have absolutely beautiful voices.
And the incredibly talented British family whose living room performance of a lockdown-themed adaptation of a Les Misérables song has become an online sensation.
3. Community is increasing
Likewise, hundreds of new community groups have been forming across the UK and beyond. Inspired by the #viralkindness campaign, these groups are helping the elderly, isolated and vulnerable.
Here, where I live, after years of knowing only a few of my nearby neighbours, I’m now part of a growing and supportive WhatsApp group for the whole of my road … and I’m sure I’m not the only one!
4. The environment is benefiting
5. Conflict-affected countries are benefiting
Meanwhile, the United Nations and humanitarian relief agencies are warning that the Coronavirus pandemic could leave a trail of destruction in the world’s most vulnerable and conflict-affected countries and communities. However, it’s encouraging to note that the UN chief is calling for a global ceasefire on all hostilities, in order to focus on ‘the true fight of our lives‘.
6. Stories of transformation are emerging
From a 103-year-old woman in Wuhan becoming the oldest person to beat Coronavirus, to the closure of temporary hospitals in China for lack of patients needing them, to medical researchers (in multiple countries) announcing they are close to developing a Coronavirus vaccine, be encouraged by these stories, which you can either watch here or read about here.
There are also other reasons for optimism, which are outlined here.
And I’ve been particularly inspired by a Northern Irish pastor’s testimony of how God sent a cleaner into his Intensive Care Unit, to minister to him when he was desperately sick with COVID-19.
So, while it would be easy to panic in the midst of this pandemic, don’t let fear get a grip in your home and household – whether fear of contagion, death, lack, loneliness, economic collapse, or any other kind.
‘For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.’
(2 Timothy 1 verse 7, New King James Version of the Bible).
What lightthroughthecracks stories have you come across, where you are, in the midst of this global pandemic?