Written by Ps David Wong
How we think about something is as important as, if not more important than, the thing itself. Different narratives have been framed around the current global pandemic. The narrative you adopt, consciously or subconsciously, determines how you respond.
If you believe the conspiracy theory that the virus was made in a laboratory and released into the world as part of a biological warfare, your response would take on a war footing. If you accept the medical narrative that novel coronaviruses appear from time to time, then COVID-19 becomes a health issue.
For Christians, we take the view that all things happen by the purpose or permission of our sovereign God. Hence some believe God is using the pandemic to give His creation a reprieve from pollution and carbon emission. Others think this pestilence, like those mentioned in Scriptures, is divine judgement on the world. We have not conducted ourselves—our homes, churches, businesses and nations—as God intends and commands.
Whichever narrative we adopt, the commentary from Jesus remains the same, “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3,5 ESV). That was his answer to the conventional narrative to the human and natural disasters of those days. King Solomon heard the same from God should drought or plague come upon the land and people, “…if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chron 7:14 ESV).
We may subscribe to one or more narratives, but in the final analysis, they are only subplots. The meta-narrative has already been given to us: “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now” (Rom 8:22 ESV). Jesus warns of wars, famines, earthquakes and pestilences (Luke 21.10-11) as part of birth pains pointing to a climax. When that climactic moment comes, nothing else matters except how each of us will meet Jesus when He comes to finally put everything right.