Why the Covid-19 pandemic invites us to give thanks to God

Why the Covid-19 pandemic invites us to give thanks to God

Images of family and other community gatherings in Uganda continue to show a very high disregard for basic preventive measures against the spread of Covid-19. A friend in Kampala told me over the weekend that people have pretty much declared the pandemic to be over. He added that President Yoweri Museveni has abandoned his tough stance against violation of preventive measures. “Now that he has his presidency secured, he seems to have abandoned Ugandans to their fate,” my friend said. I am not sure what to think of that allegation.


The behaviour of our people in Uganda is not unique at all. In spite of warnings against crowds in the United Kingdom, people gathered in London over the weekend to mourn Prince Philip who died on April 9 at the age of 99.  Whereas the funeral ceremony at Windsor Castle on April 17 is expected to adhere to pandemic health regulations, including limiting the number of mourners to only thirty people, there is a high probability that many Britons will gather elsewhere in large numbers to pay tribute to their Queen’s husband of 74 years. 


Here in Canada, many people are carrying on with social gatherings as though we are living in normal times. Many of them walk in the cities without masks. Those who don them cover their mouths but leave their noses naked. Public health prohibitions against house parties are ignored. Reminding a person to wear their mask triggers a hostile reaction that can include heavy duty vulgarity.  


It is not surprising that the new coronavirus is taking advantage of human folly and recklessness to continue its relentless infection and killing spree. This past Sunday alone, Ontario, Canada’s largest province, with a population of 14 million, reported 4,456 new cases of Covid-19.  We have 1,513 people admitted in Ontario’s hospitals because of Covid-19, with 605 of them in intensive care units (ICUs). 


 The province’s 2,300 ICU beds are overstretched because of staffing shortages. Even the ICU at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children has admitted adult patients, seven of them in there as I write.  Many health care workers are burnt out, yet this third wave of the pandemic is threatening to outdo earlier ones in terms of numbers.


Across Canada, with a population of only 38 million, we have so far had 1,060,163 cases of Covid-19 since the pandemic began a year ago. More than 23,000 have died. However, the fear that such figures instilled in the public at the start of the pandemic seems to have diminished. Many people are acting as though the virus is a mere nuisance. With the arrival of Spring weather, large numbers of people are gathering in groups and enjoying the outdoors as though the good old days are back.


A church just west of  Edmonton, Alberta that was shut down and fenced off by government authorities because it had ignored capacity regulations, physical distancing and masking, was the scene of protests by its members this weekend. It is as though Christ can only be found inside a church building or under the direction of a pastor.  All this to say that human behaviour continues to be a great ally of the new coronavirus. 


Happily, large numbers of people – hopefully the majority – have accepted the new reality and adjusted their lives without too much fuss. The use of the internet to conduct professional work, commerce and other interactions has become a normal way of life. My wife and I have found a wonderful Church in Oregon, USA which has now become our home church. It is just as well, for we had been searching for a new church since we moved residence within this huge city. 


We now worship the Lord and enjoy excellent Bible study from the comfort of our home. We do not feel any less served by the experience than when we used to drive through traffic and snowstorms to worship at a traditional brick-and-mortar church. 


Furthermore, we have occasionally enjoyed joining brethren at Sunday worship in Nairobi, Kenya and at Makerere’s St Francis Chapel – via the internet.  This has enriched our experience and learning. We look forward to doing this more often. It is very highly unlikely that we shall return to regular physical church attendance even after the pandemic is over. Time will tell.


Covid-19 has, sadly, infected more than 135 million people around the world and killed nearly 3 million. Its negative impact on our personal and national economies has been very heavy.  Its spread has been assisted by human folly and stubbornness. 


However, the pandemic has forced us to find alternative ways of doing business and engaging in activities that are dear to us. We may well discover that doing business online has significant economic and health benefits. 


So not all is dark and depressing about this pandemic. To that end, one is reminded of the Apostle Paul’s words in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 – “ give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."



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