These are extraordinary weeks for the peoples of the world as the coronavirus continues to spread. Covid-19 intrusion into what was normal life has become a season of uncertainly, anxiety and several ‘what ifs?’.
“The What-Ifs of Covid-19: What if the Covid-19 lockdowns and quarantines continue indefinitely? What if governments that provide food/supplies to vulnerable people can no longer do so? What if businesses do not recover? What if we can no longer return to the habit of handshakes and hugs? What if the conspiracy theories are right? What if they do not succeed in developing a vaccine? What if the vaccine is the hidden way to receive the mark of the beast? What if churches can no longer meet as they used to do? These ‘what ifs’ persist because no one is certain about when normalcy will return. The most popular scripture in the past few months for many parts of Africa is Psalm 91.1: “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty”. We all want to be under the shadow of God almighty.
The Ifs of the Gospel: Our Easter celebrations remind us to bring all the What-Ifs of Covid-19 under the shadow of the Ifs of the Gospel, as found in 1 Cor 15.12-19. The ‘ifs’ in this passage are greater than any Covid-19 ‘what if?’. “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied” (15.19). The writer’s response to this big If is: “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the first fruits of those who have died” (15.20). This is the highest declaration of Christian hope. The fact that Easter arrived in the middle of this season of Covid-19 is not an accident. This reminds us to bring all our ‘What Ifs?’ under the shadow of our declaration that Christ is Risen! Our response to Covid-19 uncertainties becomes an affirmation that because Christ is risen our hope is in Him in this life and in the life beyond. We are not to be pitied more than others.
The Renewed What-Ifs: Our hope in the Risen Christ gives us courage to replace the Covid-19 ‘What Ifs?’ with some renewed ‘What Ifs’. What if this time in history has been pre-ordained by God as a divine pause from the pursuits of life? What if it is a divinely appointed sabbath for all of God’s creation to reflect on the maker of heaven and earth? What if it is a time for personal repentance and a renewal of our relationship with God? What of it is a time for family members to get to know one another more and to be reconciled? What if it is time for the people of God to bind the broken hearted and comfort those that mourn? What if the shutdowns and the slowdowns are an opportunity for the people of God to be renewed, restored and recharged for the task of world evangelization? What if it is a reminder of the soon return of the Lord Jesus Christ? How true it is that all who dwell in the shelter of the Risen Christ will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.”