Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
1 Peter 3: 15-16
The 40 days of Lent are traditionally a solemn time, but this year the COVID-19 corona (meaning ‘crown-shaped’) virus has cast an extra dark shadow over the community, far and wide. A shadow of fear, loss, uncertainty and disorientation, as routines, income, social life, learning and business viability are threatened … all of which were already battered in Hong Kong by the political protests that started in mid-2019.
Of course, we all like to be in control of our lives. So naturally, it’s unsettling to be reminded that we are not in control. At all. Even of our supply of toilet paper… let alone our civic peace, health, livelihood, studies etc. Often the reaction is automatic and extreme, controlling whatever we can to rebuild the illusion, from panic-buying to total social withdrawal. In conversation with others about this, they often seem trapped and hopeless in dealing with this uncertainty, which can be an opening for dialogue on matters of faith.
So what is God saying through all this, to Hong Kongers generally, and to us in particular? Are we tuned in to listen and reflect, or are we still in automatic mode? Could He be pointing out that we are often relying on His gifts rather than the giver, and taking both for granted? One word for that is idolatry. So this can help us into a mindset of repentance, prayer and self-denial that is appropriate for the Lent season.
Even more than that, surely the fear and despair around us are calling us to reach out, speak out and spread our own ‘crown’ virus to those who are feeling shaken: a virus of faith that Jesus wore a crown of thorns so we could have crowns of righteousness that we do not deserve. A virus not of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind; one that is highly contagious, but life-giving.
Let us respond to the COVID-19 virus in prayer by:
- Thanking God for the life-giving security we have through the Gospel
- Asking God for help to rely only on Him, and for opportunities and readiness to share the Gospel with those feeling shaken by COVID-19