Stars are born, live and die. Astronomers classify stars according to their age into three: Pop I-III. Pop I are the oldest. Our Sun is a Pop III. The dust from perishing Pop I stars help form Pop II, and the dust from Pop II help form Pop III stars (Hugh Ross, The Creator and the Cosmos, 2018).
Our earth passed through numerous stages to develop to its present geographical state of continents, oceans and seas. The Tectonic plates move constantly, resulting in earthquakes which, if in deep oceans, give rise to tsunami waves.
The water that evaporates from oceans and seas travel over lands by the force of winds, to fall as rain. Sometimes these winds could be strong, leading to storms and tornadoes.
El Nino is important for the eco-system of the western shores of South America and other Pacific countries. Every 2 – 7 years, however, it turns stronger with heavy rainfall and storms, sometimes with devastating effects. The strongest El Nino events could disrupt the world atmosphere and climates.
On a much smaller scale, bacteria are important for life on earth. But some bacteria could be harmful. In humans, gut bacteria play an important role in health and immunity. The number of these useful bacteria is in the billions, and they are of different varieties.
Bacteria multiply at enormous speed. They need to be checked to keep the balance of the eco-system. Viruses play the role of limiting the overall population of bacteria. But some viruses such as Covid-19 can be harmful,
The Creator built a system of balance in His creation, in the vast Universe, on earth, and within us humans. As much as there is entropy all around us, the Universe is well maintained and life thrives on our Planet Earth.
Whether Covid-19 has been transmitted to humans from exotic animals or was produced in a laboratory initially in US or China; Covid is with us and will stay on, just as Influenza. Whatever the source might have been, man had a hand in introducing Covid-19 to humanity.
Many have expressed different, varied opinions of the meaning of Covid in our lives. They have discussed Covid in relation to God; some saying it was an act of God calling humans to repent their sins, while others saw Covid as a punishment from the Almighty.
This author sees the Covid episode in the context of the bigger picture of the ever changing events in the universe, on earth and in us humans. It is part of nature that, though events usually turn to the better and work towards the maintenance and advancement of human life, it is sometimes inevitable that they could take a wrong turn.
When it comes to the debate: God and Covid, it is good to contemplate on the writings of a theologian and scholar of the New Testament, N T Wright, and those of a scientist and mathematician, John Lennox.
In his book “God and the Pandemic” (2020), N T Wright advises that we should avoid dwelling on the question “Why?” but rather act according to the positive side of the Christian faith: What can I do? Practical matters such as wearing masks and observing protective measures, both to the individual and the community; and taking the vaccine are commendable. We should not allow this plight to negatively affect our psyche, but should rather contemplate on fundamental moral questions we might have ignored.
The beauty of the Christian belief in The Trinity is that the second Hypostasis, The Son, incarnated and became man, and shares in our suffering. Jesus cried over the death of Lazarus, but raised him from the dead.
Many know and repeat Romans 8: 28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him”. But this verse should also be taken in the contest of what precedes it, namely verse 26 “The spirit helps us in our weakness.” James 5: 7-11 encourages believers to be patient and verse 11 ends “The Lord is full of compassion and mercy”. On these attributes of God we should dwell.
John Lennox (2020) in his book “Where is God in the Coronavirus world?” made a distinction between atheists and believers. He presented his experience after arriving to New Zealand following the earthquake in 2011. A believer would find comfort and hope in his faith. A Christian would find solace in knowing that Christ who suffered for him on the cross would be beside him in his hour of need and share in his suffering. Lennox agrees with N T Wright in having comfort in sharing lamentations which are abundant in the Psalms (and the lamentations of Jeremiah). Lennox declares there is enough evidence to trust God who suffered on the cross and resurrected, and hence we have hope that our suffering is followed by resurrection. As for why there is suffering in the first place, the answer “This is the World that is”. We read in Genesis 3: 18 “It [the earth] will produce thorns and thistles for you”. But through the suffering and redemption of Christ there is a better prospect as revealed in Revelation. Job is taken as the living example of reward for perseverance (James 5: 11). God reveals to Job’s friends that what befell Job was not because he had done something wrong as they accused him of (Job 42: 7-11). Job prays for his friends and God accepts his prayers.
Throughout the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, we can follow the theme of suffering, redemption through Christ, Resurrection and the better life to come; Covid or no Covid. Atheism puts such hope aside.
Covid revealed the best and worst in humans. Scam and fraud increased as fraudsters preyed on the elderly and vulnerable. Yet much good was done, as in the heroic acts of doctors, nurses, and health workers around the world. People helped each other, especially lending hands to the needy in the most admirable way. Researchers from around the world joined efforts and produced vaccines in months which normally would have taken many years to materialise.
After Covid, the world will not be the same. Writers will divide recent history to: Before Covid and After Covid. As to human behaviour, very likely those who do good will go on doing good, and those who do otherwise will go on doing the same.
It is good to reflect on the serenity prayer of St Francis of Assisi: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”
Ahmes Labib Pahor FRCS,DHMSA(UK),FICS(USA), Dip.ICS(Egypt), PhD.Hist.Med.(Netherlands) has special interest in History and Coptic Language. He is member of IACS (International Association Of Coptic Studies) and has many publications in History of Medicine especially Pharaonic Medicine, and in Coptic History; he published in 2018 English Coptic Lexicon for Every Day Conversations In memory of his grandfather eminent Coptologist Cladius Bey Labib Pahor, and in 2009 a book on his father Dr Pahor Labib, also eminent Coptologist.
7 July 2021