Covid-19 on People and Creation
Contributed by Jane Yu (Young adult from Prinsep Street Presbyterian Church)
The outbreak of Covid-19 brings devasting impact, affecting all people from all fronts. In the midst of such calamity, there are uplifting moments of human solidarity: strangers help the quarantined purchase supplies, individuals and organisations provide shelter to foreigners unable to return home, volunteers live-stream activities to engage the elderly at home—people are coming together to lend practical and emotional support. While we thank God for such encouragements, we may want to take time to reflect on why God might have purposed this trial. I would like to offer my perspective that it may be due in part to our preoccupation with work at the expense of focusing our lives on God. It may only be through violently shaking us awake that we stop to realign ourselves with him, prioritise human relationships, and re-evaluate our treatment of God’s creation.
An effect of the outbreak is the suspension of many activities, including those in church. As such, we are made to review our personal walks with God. During this period, I unexpectedly found myself having more time to rest and strengthen my relationship with God, and with the people directly around me.
Spending more time in solitude to reflect on my life and God in it has provided great respite. It is rejuvenating to feel the comfort and assurance that internalising God’s Word brings. I especially realise God’s magnificence when surrounded by his creation; while staring at a single, massive green leaf that fans out into an area larger than my head and shoulders, it is difficult not to be in awe. Nature forms a haven from the happenings of the world as throughout the outbreak, creation is unfazed and continues growing. The inanimate obedience of creation is a reminder to choose to obey God.
The outbreak inadvertently resulted in more time with family, which, has supported my walk with God. Growing deeper in relationship with my parents to hear their insight that is derived from wisdom and experience, is a humbling reminder of the people God has placed in my life to guide and to love—right from the start and under the same roof.
Despite the halting of church services, it is greatly encouraging that small group meetings have continued remotely. Piloting new ways to do things is never easy, yet members are willing to try for the sole aim of maintaining strong spiritual relations. Listening to and sharing with people who care for one another out of genuine friendship is uplifting, and there is always a calmness after meeting them. Holding meetings remotely also means that friends overseas are able to join the discussion, which, is another unexpected blessing!
Intentionally walking with God in solitude, with family, and with friends during this period has been revitalising. It may only be because my usual routines had been unavoidably terminated that rest in God and prioritising of human relations could ensue. In the ceasing of some facets, there is opportunity for others to thrive.
In that spirit, an unanticipated outcome of the outbreak is the flourishing of the environment due to the reduction of human activity. The shutdowns of heavy industry factories and decrease in vehicle traffic have reduced air pollution globally; flora and fauna in cities are prospering. The thriving of creation due to major suspension of human activity is illustrated before us, bringing to the forefront our mistreatment of creation during our usual way of life. May we not miss this chance to fully internalise the impact we have on the environment and review how we might tweak our routines to better serve the environment’s needs. Whether it’s intentionally recycling, curbing the desire to buy in excess, resisting the allure of fast fashion, or being careful consumers, starting is half the battle won. Perhaps this outbreak is a call to slow down and endeavour to strike a careful balance between our essential needs and the environment’s.
In this crisis, there is great sorrow as we face loss, and great worry as we face the future. May the encouragements of prevailing human solidarity and the beauty of creation point us to God and to hope in His goodness, as we hear the reminder to love His people and His creation.