My tuppence – A Coronavirus response

It’s been a while since I was inspired to write something from a song. 

Two things have been buzzing through my mind in the past few days. The first is my response to the Coronavirus pandemic, and the second is the following lyric.

Opening salvo
Didn’t help solve anything
Every time we shout our rights out
We get all grouchy and grey

It’s all about me, me
It’s all about what I can take
And if that doesn’t ring true anymore
Maybe it was our first mistake

In a way the two are quite closely linked. 

The government have an almost impossible task (and I genuinely think that is true for whichever party may be in power) of balancing the desire to open up the economy and the necessity to keep the population safe.

It feels like they are sending mixed messages. One day we are being told to try and get back to ‘normal’, the next to stay home and protect ourselves. What appears to be a U-turn is in fact a response to scientific evidence. The circulation of the virus is changing, and so must our response to it.

Parts of the advice doesn’t seem to make any sense. Why are one group allowed to gather, and another prevented from doing so? 

None of us enjoy having our freedom ‘taken away’ from us. We feel that we have rights. We feel that if we are prevented from doing what we wish we deserve recompense and a full explanation. Each of us will have different circumstances in which we find ourselves. Even those that appear at first sight to be the same, will have idiosyncrasies that mean a ‘one size fits all’ solution won’t suit.  

There have been some terrible leaders of countries around the world over the centuries, I genuinely believe that those in charge of our country at present (or Her Majesties opposition if they were in power), have the best interests of the country at heart. They would not be asking us to stay 2 metres apart and avoid mixing with others if it really wasn’t absolutely necessary. We are dealing with a virus and a situation that is evolving (not a popular word in most Christian circles, but that is what is happening), and we must respond quickly. Science has and will give us pointers as to the direction to go, but as a lecturer once said to me (as I was studying Microbiology at MSc level in case you wondered if I was simply adding to the abundance of opinion online from no place of understanding) ‘Microorganisms do not read text books’

We can try and predict what they will do, and how they will interact with us, but when all is said and done, they will survive by any means necessary.

How does the song link to all this you may be wondering? I guess my issue with the way people are reacting online is that for large parts of the population they are ‘shouting their rights out’. They want to do what they want to do. They have ‘survived’ the first wave, and now feel invincible. They feel that the government were slow to react in the first instance, but the same people now feel that they have overreacted at the beginning of the second wave.

People are complaining about the number and availability of tests. I can personally confirm that we are working flat out to perform as many as we possibly can with the available hardware. We’ve extended the working day from 9-5 to 8-11pm. We don’t have any more staff to do this (in fact we have less following some moving on to other things), but the number of tests we are expected to carry out is increasing daily. We still meet the government target of 15hrs – but it is beginning to break the one thing that is difficult to repair. Each and every one of us is exhausted. We continue because we always have but seeing calls for us to do more is difficult to take. 

What we don’t know (and never will) is how bad would it have been if the government had done nothing?  I saw something earlier this week indicating that if I had influenza and did nothing, I would infect 1.3 people. If these people went on to infect the same number of people, up to 10 times, 14 people in total would be infected.

If the same were true with Coronavirus, given what we know about the infectivity, and that was continued on 10 times as before, a staggering 59,000 people would be infected.

It is true that at present the sharpest increase in infections is in the 20-29yr age bracket. It is also true that for the majority of these people, Coronavirus will be a relatively mild infection. If we did nothing, as so many of the ‘Facebook experts’ seem to be suggesting, it doesn’t take much thought to realise that pretty soon your older parents, or grandparents, or those with underlying conditions would become infected. It seems to me to be incredibly selfish to be so concerned about your own rights of movement and freedom but not to seem to care about those of others. 

I wish I could predict how this will all pan out. Will there be a vaccine by Christmas (highly unlikely), or the middle of next year (possibly)? Will that be the silver bullet we are all hoping it will be? (who knows). What I do know that it is no good for some of us to do something and for others to ignore the advice, guidance and in some cases the law of the land.  Either we all do this, or the virus takes over. There is no middle ground.

Following the guidance will help. If we all do, perhaps we can get back to working normal hours and seeing our families again. 

It’s all about me, me. It’s all about what I can take.’  

Not anymore. This is about all of us. All of us playing our part. 

Pulling down heaven

I saw a quote recently which got me thinking.

“You can’t push a rope. To end a drought, Elijah partnered with Heaven for rain to come. His final act before rain was to put his head between his knees as he pulled on heaven in prayer. Some of us are pushing so hard for rain, perhaps it is time to pull on heaven instead.”

It seems to me that as we progress further and further down the road that is a world with Coronavirus as a major part of it, both individuals and groups are pushing for a return to whatever they consider ‘normal’.

In the world that I live in this seems to be especially true in those who are trying to return to a worship experience that involves meeting in a building, singing songs and being with those who believe the same as we do.

Over the past few weeks I’ve seen opinions ranging from sticking as firmly as possible to the guidelines published by the government of the land (and taking a few steps beyond the guidelines just to be sure that they comply) to others where the only government that they are willing to recognise is government from heaven, and the directive in the bible clearly states that we ‘should not neglect meeting together.’

The exact position that your church takes will likely fall somewhere between these two extremes.

While I yearn to meet together, to worship as a body of believers I am pulled too by the rules that have been laid down by the leaders of our country, and by the science which I understand (and is evolving as we find out more about this novel virus). 

1 Peter  2:7 tells us to ‘honour everyone, Love the brotherhood, Fear God, Honour the Emperor’ What we are told to do by the leaders of our nation matters. I understand that in a number of cases the guidance is confusing, and seemingly contradictory. I get that it feels like churches are being unfairly targeted for stricter guidance than some other sectors. It makes little sense to most to allow schools and pubs to open, but restrict church services. 

Elijah could easily have simply told the rain to come. It was of course the way he ensured that there had been a drought in the first place. 

He spoke and it came to pass. 

When it was time for the drought to end though, there needed to be persistent and fervent prayer. It is true that when one knows ones identity and standing in the heart of the Father it is possible (and sometimes necessary and preferable) to simply speak things that we wish to see into being. 

But sometimes it is necessary (and preferable) to spend time petitioning heaven, asking for guidance, asking for His will to come on earth. Part of the reason that we need to spend that time on our knees asking Him to intervene is because we need to see the difference between our will and His. We have tried to be God in so many different ways by shouting our rights and complaining when we feel hard done by.

The Father wants our heart to beat as one with His. For His will to become our will.

At that point, Heaven will move. 

There will be no stopping it.

I have little doubt that it will look different to the ‘normal’ that we are trying to get back to – but I also have little doubt that it will be worth the wait.

Let us join together church, on our knees, pulling on heaven for our town, for our nation, for the world.