• Hughson T. Ong

Faith and the COVID-19 Pandemic: What We Should and Should Not Do, and Our Only Hope

Updated: Apr 13

It is mid-April now, and the COVID-19 pandemic still lingers. When will this global ordeal be over? We all have mixed feelings about the situation. Most people are progressively getting bored and agitated, and others, even some countries, play the blame game, while some are beginning to accept this present-to-future reality. But as we all know well, how we feel about a situation is not as important as how we respond to it. And so, here are two simple and practical tips to help us cope with the stress that inevitably comes along with this health crisis.

What We Should Not Do

We must realize that people naturally see this global pandemic as a waiting game. This waiting game creates an unwarranted paranoia that triggers our mind to search for a coping mechanism to deal with the paranoia. And in this day and age, the most natural way to deal with the paranoia is to pass our time through entertainment media. This pursuit is counter-productive, however. So, I suggest that what we should not do is squander all of our time on Netflix, Facebook, YouTube, and other mindless apps like Snapchat, TikTok, and Instagram (a very tough sell I know!).

While we may think that laughs and entertainment would help us stay positive (and to some extent this is true), the reality is that they take up all of our time once we are hooked to them. There are obviously many more desirable and valuable activities to do besides getting entertained. Reading and writing, staying in touch with family and friends, and learning new skills are just some of them. In fact, do we really feel happier after a full day on Netflix and Facebook? I would assume that most of us will say, no, we don’t. That’s true—we don’t.

What We Should Do

While media entertainment is the one thing that we should not squander our time on, thinking about what we should be doing otherwise can be a challenge for many of us. When we really think about it, there is actually a ton of other things that we can enjoy doing. Let’s take physical exercise as an example. I believe that mowing your lawn, cleaning the house, walking, running, and even sleeping (and many people do need a lot of this) are obviously better alternatives to spending countless hours on social media. However, this too does not really help us cope with this crisis. So, we need to think of other activities that would keep us informed about what is actually going on in this global pandemic so that we can be prepared for what is to come. See, when tomorrow comes, things may not be the same anymore as they used to be. Here are two suggestions.

First, we must read and research about current sociocultural and political events. This may sound like an easy task, but reading and research require some skills and a lot of practice. Otherwise, we may end up reading fake or distorted news. Reading and research is actually an academic exercise that everyone must learn in undergraduate or graduate school. But for the purpose of this article, I would simply encourage us to read multiple sources on the same topic and compare and evaluate them alongside each other.

For instance, reading the New York Times, BBC News, and your local news offers you just one category of sources, since they are all based on a Western perspective. It may be more helpful to read The New York Times, Aljazeera, and CGTN in tandem when trying to understand a situation. This will provide you a more well-rounded and big-picture outlook. Of course, we also would need to think critically and objectively when adjudicating the content of the material we read. Being aware of the global current events would definitely help us understand this #COVID-19 crisis in a proper perspective.

Second, and more importantly, we must read the Bibleespecially the New Testament. Here, of course, I am speaking to Bible believers and only appealing to other readers in general. There are many scriptural texts (e.g. Matthew 24–25, Mark 13, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 2 Peter, and Revelation) that could speak to this global pandemic. Some, including Bible believers, may quickly scoff at this statement. They would say that this is just another conspiracy theory and that these catastrophic events happen recurrently in history. Well, this is exactly the point, isn’t it? It is precisely the continual recurrence of these events that we must lend our ears to the warnings in Scripture (e.g. 2 Pet. 3:3-18). Many only see the Bible as a spiritual book that benefits its believers. But this is being ignorant of the fact that the Bible is a reliable source of history. When we are knowledgeable about biblical history, then we can better understand what is currently happening in the global scene, including this coronavirus pandemic.

This coronavirus has infected almost two million people and cost over a hundred thousand lives, and the numbers continue to spike. The entire world is put in quarantine. Countries, cities, and communities are on lockdown. A two-meter physical distancing and, in some cases, self-isolation, policies are imposed on the public to control the spread of the virus. Pope Francis calls for a one-world government to rescue humanity. Other globalists are fast tracking various technological innovations to change how our society will run in the future. The list goes on.

This pandemic is ravaging people’s lives now, but the real damage it will inflict on humanity is yet to come. There is no point to speculate about it at this time, but it is critical for Christ followers to put their faith completely and cling on securely to the One who holds the solution to all our problems. The psalmist declares,

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—

where does my help come from?

My help comes from the LORD,

the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—

he who watches over you will not slumber;

indeed, he who watches over Israel

will neither slumber nor sleep.

The LORD watches over you—

the LORD is your shade at your right hand;

the sun will not harm you by day,

nor the moon by night.

The LORD will keep you from all harm—

he will watch over your life;

the LORD will watch over your coming and going

both now and forevermore.

Psalm 121