How will this pandemic affect my future? How do I overcome my fears, uncertainties regarding studies, health and future?
To answer the first part of your question, Yes, this will affect your future. But it will also affect everyone, rather the whole world. Everyone in the world are in this together. You are not alone.
Secondly, how will it affect your future? We are living in uncertain times. No one can tell you, nor can you predict today what the effects of Corona will be on your life and life of the whole world! But the certainty that we have amid all that is happening around us is that we have a certain/Sovereign God. A God who is in control of the universe, the world our nation and your life! He will work out His purposes for your life even through this, if you will put your faith in Him. It may not be the way you imagine it to be, but for those whom he has called, He works things out for the good.
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
So how do you overcome your fears? It is natural to have these fears. But this is where we are called to exercise our faith. A faith in a God who, “Is sovereign” and in control. Paul says in Philippians, He who began the good work in you will be faithful to complete it (another version says – perfect it). He will see that he will complete and perfect what He has initiated in your life. Hold on to that faith.
How can I use this lockdown time well? Even though there is a desire to spend time to pray and read God’s word, overcoming the tendency to get distracted and procrastinate is a big challenge.
Yes, we have been privileged to be given such a time as this – time that is given not to waste, but to be good stewards of. The issue of distraction and procrastination may not be linked to lockdown itself, but more of a general issue. In times like lockdown, since there is no regularity, it is easy to lose focus.
A few things you can try are:
Create Regularity – get up as you regularly do, change your dress and get ready like you do on a normal working or class day. Keep that regularity every day. Put down a plan for each day – quiet time, reading, praying, studying, other activities etc.
Distractions must be managed with some practiced disciplines, of setting aside a place and time (short times initially) for reading the word and spending time meditating and reflecting on the same. Over time as you start cultivating this, it will become a habit and life pattern. But do not feel discouraged if you fail or take time to develop this. It is a lifelong journey, and nothing to do with this season alone.
Similarly, for procrastination, these are life patterns from which one needs to break out, by setting in alternative habits of behavior. Make plans for each day, tasks to complete, keep things that affect your work or study away from sight, start these things in short spells initially and slowly build up. Do not expect things to change overnight, but depend on God, He will enable you by his spirit.
Get a friend or mentor to support you as you try to journey in these disciplines.
What can I do during this time of the Pandemic? Do I/we have a role to play?
Yes – this is a season that the world and all of us are going through and ‘we’ like in the book of Esther, where Mordecai tells Esther “It is for a such a time like this, that we are kept”. In one sense we are privileged to have the knowledge of Medicine (the little that we know of COVID19) and the faith and assurance in a God who is in control.
What can you do? Some of us may be called to be in the forefront, others in the back, supporting the people in the forefront – encouraging, supporting, praying etc.? We can be a channel of right information to the people around us. We can look around and identify the vulnerable or others who are impacted by the lockdown and support them in many ways. We could be people who can encourage and support those who are fearful and panicking. Each of us in our own context, need to explore, how we can be a channel of hope, courage, care and right information, not forgetting to pray.
What are the specialities relevant to a post-pandemic world?
Much depends on your interest too. In addition to the regular ones, the pandemic is teaching us that the world was not prepared for a pandemic of this magnitude. Will such infections and pandemics continue? One cannot categorically say, but it is likely that such pandemics will continue. So, if you want to be actively engaging in such potential contexts, Public Health, Infectious Diseases, Critical care, Health systems and health care management, Psychiatry etc. seem to the areas where there will be an emerging need.
How are missionaries managing the Pandemic?
Most are affected by lockdown in the various locations where they are, separated from families. Mission hospitals are trying to engage by setting up systems for care, but with limitations of PPEs, and other resources. Regular work has reduced, which has led to reduction in cash flow and many institutions and groups are finding it difficult. At the same time, many are involved in supporting those who are starving due to effects of the lockdown in their contexts, through providing food items etc.
Students facing final exams in June 2020 are taking online theory classes. But postings and ‘practicals’ are not possible. This is causing a lot of confusion.
Yes, this will continue for more time. One thing to understand is, the whole educational system and the academic year might get affected. And since it is a global issue and one where they are not in control you will need to rest and wait. Everyone is affected and so they will come up with some systems, but we might lose time.
God, family, work has been taught to us as the line of priorities. As a medical professional is it right to prioritize family than work?
It depends on the framework you use. Our lives are not to be boxed in as God, family and work and then put priority as God first, family second and work third. There is only God as priority. And God gives us spheres of engagement for His kingdom purposes, which includes our family and the work context where he has kept us. It is important to see work as something that God has given to us to be His channel of presence and to influence the context for His Kingdom. And our engagement in the workplace must be an outflow of our engagement with the family, and other way around too, so that the family recognizes that all of us are together with each other in the God-given areas of engagement.
This framework will help us to see, both family and work as God-given areas of engagement and influence. Having said that, it is for each of us, to reflect and see, how in this season of life each of us should live? There will be seasons where you will need to set aside more time for family or work in view of certain reasons or contexts.
Dr Santhosh Mathew.