I took a long, steady, deep breath and let the oxygen fill and stretch my lungs to capacity. “Wait, wait, wait”, I said to myself, “now exhale!” I had to be sure that my red blood cells got more than enough before I went for the next big gulp. Every time I saw the day’s media release, the Covid-19 cases seemed to be taking their cue from jack and the bean stalk. Many days I had to pause and fight the anxiety that seemed to always be lurking around the corner. This Covid-19 thing is becoming too much and naturally fear is the present but unwelcomed resident in many homes. Despite our faith, our humanity and powerlessness, leaves many of us struggling to maintain this faith. How does one remain calm when it seems as though our nation is under siege by a faceless, heartless attacker that’s taking family members two at a time.
In the understandable cacophony of emotions, running a close second to immense anxiety for many, is astonishment.
Astonished that 17 months after the virus made its grand appearance, it is still wreaking havoc in the world, and in our beloved twin island republic no less.
Astonished that our carefree belligerence to the contagion was not covered by the “God is Trini” pass.
Astonished that maybe we aren’t as loving a nation as we once presumed, as compliance with rules and protocols are ignored in preference for personal pleasure and gregarious living.
Astonished that people, not just numbers, but actual people are becoming extremely ill, and that everyday several families are plunged into mourning.
We can’t escape the burden on our hearts when our neighbours, family, friends and acquaintances become ill, which then evokes dire petitions for their healing and continued protection for ourselves.
The corona virus has already done more damage in our beautiful country than the worst day, week or weeks in crime. Our jaws dropped to the floor and our hearts burned with anger when the country recorded 11 murders in a few days back in 2011, as the then government scrambled to pacify the people and quell the surge, by instituting a state of emergency. Almost 10 years later and we are back in the same position, although for different reasons. We have looked on with horror as 107 persons lost their lives due to Covid-19 in just the first 15 days of the month of May.
What was once something happening in another continent, is now our predicament.
The good news – and yes there is good news- is that despite the fear and anxiety, God’s voice and his words will steady our shaking knees, unclog our mind and usher us into a place of peace and preparation.
Our peace is in knowing that although this attack is in the unseen realm, so is our protection. Do you remember the account in 2 Kings Chapter 6, when God kept revealing the king of Syria’s plans to the prophet Elisha, and so the king sent a huge army to Dothan to capture Elisha. When Elisha’s servant saw that the city was surrounded by the Syrian army he became very afraid. Like that servant, many of us feel surrounded by this unseen attacker that seems to be inching closer to us as we hear of persons we know who tested positive or are primary and secondary contacts. In response to his servant's evident fear, Elisha in verse 16 said to him, and the same is applicable to us today, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” I don’t know which is worst, a physical advancing enemy you can see, or a predator that you cannot see and can’t actually confront, but must instead evade.
I encourage you though, to take comfort in this, the attack which is unseen does not have any advantage over you, because heaven's army is also fighting for you in the same realm of the unseen! Elisha said, “Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see" and the Lord granted Elisha's request. When the servant's eyes were opened, the bible says that he saw that the "mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha". Glory to God! I pray that you too see that those who are for us are more than those who are against us and that your army is mighty and millions strong! The battle has always been in the unseen spiritual realm and that is where our victory is sure. As it is in heaven, so shall it be on earth. Your peace is premised on the assurance, that God is always fighting for you, whether you see it or not.
This truth of God’s protection does not vitiate the wisdom of preparedness though. Last week our family said goodbye to our uncle/husband/brother/father, which was the same day that the local gospel community bid farewell to a media and gospel icon here in Trinidad and Tobago. Coupled with the inundating news of sickness and death due to Covid-19, I can’t help but beseech us to think about our eternal destiny. Rick Warren in one of his daily devotionals said, “only a fool would go all through life totally unprepared for something that everybody knows is inevitable”. Our present reality is a sobering reminder that prepare we must, because death is certain (regardless of the vehicle). God’s love is real and so is our eternal abode of heaven or hell. God wants you with Him in eternity, He already paid the price for your sin, and believing in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ will secure your future in glory. The doorway through which we must all pass to the realm of eternity goes in two opposite directions and you get to choose now, where you want that to be.