As you and I have watched another wave of virus sweep across our culture, we cannot help but sorrow over the effects of this pandemic. Certainly, we sorrow over the lives that are lost to this insidious affliction.
Without minimizing the deaths of wonderful friends and family members, I believe there is even a greater, lasting damage to those of us who have survived this scourge. The very threat that continues to loom over us, like the brown/orange cloud of pollution above Los Angeles, Bangkok and Beijing, settles down upon our collective psyche, infecting us with a fear of one another.
During the holidays, I heard reports of family members who were afraid to come together for fear of becoming contaminated. As a result, many people huddled in isolation at a time when they were in desperate need of the goodwill of other people.
As a pastor, I have personally grieved over the policy of the hospitals that have forbidden me from praying over the patients who were seriously ill, and dying. I think studies will show that prayer can be an integral part of the healing process. I have wondered how many people unnecessarily died because they were surrounded by (well-meaning) professionals, and lacked the will to live, something a personal touch could have provided.
The impact this pandemic has made upon the education of our children has been enormous. Online learning, no matter how cleverly conceived, will never replicate the teacher-student relationship and the interaction with other students.
Sometimes lifelong relationships are forged in the classroom and out on the playground. Just this week, I gathered with some of my high school class of 1963 from Parma to share memories that have helped define our lives. The closing of the classroom door can stunt future development.
I have watched people become afraid of attending church because they are afraid of others they have joined in fellowship for years. Churches have tried to accommodate them by airing online services. No matter how well-intentioned those efforts, the lack of personal fellowship has had a deleterious effect on the spiritual and psychological health of many sincere people.
These online methods should be reserved for those who would like to attend but are prevented by health and other unavoidable circumstances. But many have become lazy, sitting at home in their pajamas, eating cold pizza, thinking they are just being cautious. But like students with closed schools, they are missing out on the vital ingredient of the personal interaction of fellowship.
I have personally tried to take all the precautions to not receive and transmit this virus, but I still became sick with it. I have continually heard the protests and characterizations of the “cautious” who want to keep us separated. While we should all practice the best preventive measures, we must always live with risk and reward.
As part of your daily routine, have a moment of prayer, asking God for his protection and wisdom in this infected environment. And then go out and live in faith that you can interact with others in a healthy way!
Second Timothy 1:7 said God has not given us a spirit of fear. So where did this fear in our culture come from? Satan could not have devised a better weapon to destroy people than instilling fear into their lives.
Don’t give the evil one the satisfaction of winning. Place your life in the custody of Jesus, and walk in life by faith.
Loren A. Yadon is pastor of New Life Fellowship of Boise. The Idaho Statesman’s weekly faith column features a rotation of writers from many different faiths and perspectives.