COVID-19: A sign of the end of times
An Opinion Piece by Deacon Medhanie
The pandemic Coronavirus is a reminder for us all to always live in a state of preparedness and repentance.
Where is God during the Coronavirus outbreak?
"In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." [John 16:33]
It is very daunting and challenging for the human mind to comprehend and explain where God would be at this time. One may ask, why would God allow this to happen?
Whenever this kind of thing happens, people respond in three different ways. The first being fatalism, which is a view of predestination where one doesn’t have free will. Those who follow this believe that whatever happens must be accepted because it is the will of God and there’s nothing we can do about it. The second type of response is consistent with atheism. This is when one forges their destiny alone hence we fight to conquer suffering to be the fittest among the strugglers. Lastly, one believes in providence, when one trusts in the Lord and fights to keep the faith within. Providence is both correct and consistent with the teachings of the Church and Scripture.
I would like to raise the story of Lazarus, which can be found in the Gospel of John chapter 11. He was a friend of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The Bible states that Lazarus was a man whom "the Lord loved." When Lazarus became ill, his sisters, Mary and Martha, sent a message with great distress to the Lord to come forth and heal him. Instead of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ going to Lazarus, He remained where He was for an additional two days. In result, Lazarus died before the Lord arrived to Bethany. One cannot imagine the sufferings Mary and Martha had encountered. Likewise, no one can imagine the suffering of those who have become victims of the Coronavirus, including their family members. There were many people who had come to comfort the sisters of Lazarus. Many Jews had come to comfort them due to the loss of their brother. When the Lord reached Bethany, Lazarus had already been in the tomb for 4 days. Martha said to Jesus, "If you had been here, my brother would not have died." Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him; she fell at his feet and said, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." When Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled, and Our Lord wept. Afterwards, the Lord raised Lazarus from the dead. The moral of the story is that the Lord sees and understands our pain and suffering. He is kind and compassionate during our trials and tribulations. He will also raise all those in faith at the end of the world to the heavenly eternal place.
I remember reading a story of the Jews who were persecuted and tortured in concentration camps by the Nazis. Many people were asking where God was at that horrific time. Some of them tried God and found Him guilty of not answering. But one correctly said that God was with them suffering as well. When such things happen, we need to remember His word saying, "I am with you always, even to the end of the age." [Mat 28:20]. "Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind," said Apostle Peter, "for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin" (1 Peter 4:1-2). St. Cyprian of Carthage explained the suffering of all humans while on earth, saying, "In the meantime [i.e., in the present life], we are all, good and evil, contained in one household. Whatever happens within the house, we suffer with equal fate, until, when the end of the temporal life shall be attained, we shall be distributed among the homes either of eternal death or immortality." At the same time, during the difficult moments of life, such as the one we are living today, we must remind ourselves that, "…the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" (Rom. 8:18).
"Anyone who is sick should seek the prayer of others, that they may be restored to health; that through the intercession of others the enfeebled form of the body and the wavering footsteps of our deeds may be restored to health… Learn, you who are sick, to gain health through prayer. Seek the prayer of others, call upon the Church to pray for you, and God, in His regard for the Church, will give what He might refuse to you" [St. Ambrose].