Amidst the Coronavirus pandemic, it might be good to get a little perspective. At the time of writing, approximately 250,000 people have died worldwide from this disease. While this is undoubtedly a tragedy, consider that in the same time period 340,000 have died from malaria, 580,000 have died from HIV/AIDS, 2,800,000 have died from cancer and a staggering 14,600,000 have died from abortion. These are also personal tragedies.
The point being is that death is always with us. Not one of us will escape it. And, whilst we all know this truth at some level, many of us have successfully hidden it under layers of material riches. It takes this kind of event for some to wake up to the reality of our mortality, and to begin to reach out to something beyond ourselves.
The truth is that, for many of us in the First World, we do not need God. In this, compared to many of our brothers and sisters in the Third World, we are impoverished. For they, subject to the daily realities of mortality in terms of starvation, a failing crop, the death of the breadwinner with no safety net, sickness with no affordable medical services, amongst other calamities – they are rich because in their real need of God, they cast their cares upon Him. And there is no safer place to be than in His care.
Perhaps to us at this time the message to the Church at Laodicea is apropos.
To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, “I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.” But you do not realise that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so that you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so that you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so that you can see.Revelation 3 v 14-22
Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.
To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’
Perhaps mixed in the midst of this current trouble is blessing, for those with eyes to see and a willingness to repent – to turn and receive true riches from the One who still loves us.