When will this pandemic end? Will this pandemic return? Will there be a different virus or a different strain?

Humanly speaking, this is a very difficult question to answer. But looking at the trends in certain countries and the behaviour of the virus, it is possible that we could see a decline towards the latter part of this year.

A second wave of the pandemic cannot be ruled out, but it will depend on the measures various nations take to contain the spread of the virus, the speed of relaxation of the “lock-down” (though I would prefer a better term like secure@home or stay@home!), the responsible behaviour of the citizens of each country, the speed of easing of travel restrictions, the availability of a vaccine, the speed of development of herd immunity etc.

A mutant variant of the present Novel Coronavirus can be responsible. Whether another pandemic with a different virus is possible is not for us to predict.

But for a keen student of the Bible plagues (or pandemics), famines, earthquakes and wars in different parts of the world are signs connected with the “end times” (Luke 21:8-11).

No one can predict when Jesus will come, but because we live in a fallen world, such plagues and natural disasters must be expected. God will continue to work through these seemingly disastrous phenomena for His eternal purposes. These may be seen as warnings for us not to settle down here on earth for a comfortable and secure life but be reminded of the fragility and temporariness of our lives here on earth. The devil may attempt to bring evil and thwart God’s plans, but God, on the contrary, uses them to further His own purposes.

Man if left to himself, will only move to self-destruction. God in His mercy periodically presses the pause button to make man stop and reflect on the deeper issues of life and understand the true meaning and purpose of life.

As children of God, we can use these seasons to wait in His presence, hear from God and be a blessing to people who are going through much pain and suffering and bring help and hope to their lives. There is an urgent need for us to get aligned with God’s purposes as that is most important.

 

In the view of very unpleasant and discriminatory incidents against doctors, how can we forgive? What is God’s justice? What is God’s forgiveness?

It is very unfortunate that doctors and other health care professionals were subjected to unpleasant behavior in certain parts of the country, including physical abuse and obstruction to last rites.

It cannot be denied however that the people of the nation generally, including the central and state governments have been appreciative of the brave and sincere efforts of the “frontline warriors” as they are mostly addressed now, and demonstrated recently by the gesture of the armed forces of our country in showering flowers. However, a few incidents of this nature have created unpleasantness and discouragement in the hearts of the medical professionals.

The most important factor in my opinion that has resulted in such behaviour is ignorance and the fear of contracting the illness. The unusually large scale of the pandemic and deaths across the nations has created a sense of fear and panic among people of all countries.

Measures to create more awareness and prevention of such incidents by law enforcing agencies are important. Bringing this to the notice of the government as was done by bodies like the IMA is necessary and the IMA’s decision to withdraw the protest on the request of the government is praiseworthy. Retaliation in any form, however, cannot be justified, especially by refusing to care or provide medical support to the sick. The general population cannot be penalized for the actions of a few misguided people.

One important question that we as Christian doctors can ask when faced with incidents of this nature is, “What would Jesus have done in a situation like that?” When unjustly accused and sentenced to a cruel death on the cross, he prayed, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing”. Stephen said similar words as he was being stoned to death. This is representative of God’s forgiveness. Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross for sinners like us is the highest expression of God’s unconditional love, justice and forgiveness. When we forgive, would it not in a way reflect the justice of God, as exemplified by our Lord. When we strive to be more like Christ, can we not practice a fraction of this great forgiveness that He displayed?

Scripture does not promise a life free of suffering-sometimes we may have to suffer for doing good, for being a witness or for helping someone in need (1 Peter 2: 19-23). Jesus bore His unjust suffering and ‘kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously’. There is sin and evil operating in people and in the world and therefore pain, suffering and injustice as a consequence of that is to be expected. The sinful nature in people makes them behave wrongly and do things that are not right.

Our concept of justice is probably not what God’s justice is. His justice in its full nature will be expressed only in the Kingdom of Christ that He will set up and till then the whole of creation groans and suffers the pain of childbirth till the time when creation will be set free from its slavery to corruption (Rom 8: 21-22).

As disciples of Christ, would not giving up our so-called ‘rights’ be more Scriptural than ‘fighting’ for our rights? (Luke 14: 26-27,33 and 17: 10). We are however called to be the ‘voice for the voiceless’.

 

Dr Manoj Jacob

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