Pandemic Fear

 

The Corona pandemic is not the first of its kind. Google tells me that there have been more than 20 reported pandemics throughout history. Recorded history starts with the ‘Antonine plague’ in AD 165-180 which claimed a rough 50 lakh people, the ‘Black Death’ claimed a rough 20 crore people all over Europe, the ‘Spanish Influenza’ claimed 350 lakh people and HIV/AIDS is an ongoing pandemic. As I read this, it occurred to me, however, that although this present outbreak of the ‘Novel Corona Virus’ is relatively low in the number of lives it has claimed so far, the mode of transmission of this deadly disease and especially the lockdown situation in our own country and around the world has caused great fear— the fear of the unknown.

I don’t think our generation has lived through this magnitude of turbulence in recent times, and although India is not yet as affected as many other countries around the world such as Italy, Iran or China there is still prevalent a great deal of unrest and anxiety. The recent ‘Janata Curfew’ which was voluntary, has now been extended and it is the first of its kind that I can remember. My mother tells me that such curfews were common during periods of war, but I have never witnessed it and to me, this is incredibly overwhelming. It is amazing how alien you can feel in your own home, your place of safety. After all, you have everything you need food, clothing, shelter and your family and yet there is a sense of panic, a fear of the unknown.

At such uncertain times, I find comfort in a particular song which was a big part of my childhood. Written in the 19th century by Horatio Spafford, the lyrics say:

 

“When peace like a river, attended my way,

When sorrows like sea billows roll;

Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,

It is well, it is well, with my soul.”

 

Spafford chose to write this song of assurance at a time of great personal turmoil. Having lost his financial holdings during the ‘Chicago Fire,’ he subsequently lost his children to a shipwreck. His wife survived this catastrophe, and sent him the famed telegram that said ‘saved alone.’ Indeed, Spafford knew what it was to be faced with the ‘fear of the unknown.’ For he did not know what the future held, he did, however, know that he would never see his children again. And as he sailed across the Atlantic, the watery grave of his children, to meet his wife after this life altering disaster, he put pen to paper and out of his broken soul flowed these immortal words.

Spafford found a place of safety and rest, a place deep in his heart that was calm even amidst life’s raging and ever-changing circumstances. He simply reached out to the one never-changing reality of life, the eternal goodness of an all-knowing, ever-loving God.

The Bible says in Matthew 10:29 “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.” If this is how dearly God cares for the sparrows, does he not care for you too?

As we sit through these lockdowns sometimes bored and at other times fearful, I hope we find reassurance in the chirping birds outside our window. May they remind us that in every circumstance, when we stay hidden in Christ, it is well, it is well, with our soul.

 

– Rebekah Vijayan

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