What the Coronavirus Pandemic is Teaching Us
Pastor Chunhai Li
(Translated by Rev. Amos Lee)
For the Lord will not reject us forever.  Even if He causes suffering, He will show compassion according to His abundant, faithful love.  For He does not enjoy bringing affliction or suffering on mankind.
                                                                                                                                        Lamentations 3:31-33
In these latter days, everyone is preoccupied with the coronavirus pandemic.  I would describe it as a huge wave that has come ashore bringing destruction in its wake. Even so, different people cope with it in their own way, depending on their life experiences.  According to some psychologists, those who have a relatively easy childhood growing up, will make light of the pain associated with the pandemic and live through it. Some become ostriches when dealing with the crisis by burying their heads in the sand, putting up defenses to protect themselves and letting it pass. Some others who had experienced difficult times while growing up would do all they can to control the crisis to prevent it from happening to them.  And yet others, those who had been hurt before would put themselves in the situation and reflect upon the pain they had experienced and learn from it.  In my own experience, my faith in Jesus Christ has made me a changed person. With His help, I was able to achieve a breakthrough in overcoming the difficulties associated with a family in destitute growing up and breaking free from the bonds of my health issues.  These have helped me to grow in my faith in God.  Lately, my thoughts are mostly centered on what the coronavirus pandemic is teaching me.
1.       Breakthrough in Understanding. Socrates said. “To know, is to know that you know nothing.”   The coronavirus gave the best minds in science a very difficult problem. They are grappling with one of the greatest challenges of our times – to understand how the coronavirus spreads, the speed it spreads and the scope of its spread. Even though we believe the pandemic will eventually come to an end, but in these tough times we struggle to find answers.
2.       Neither “Right” nor “Left”.  The Greek word for “sin” is “missing the mark.”  “Missing the mark” is simply, missing the mark. No two ways about it.  In facing the pandemic, the problem with the “left” is when they knowingly court danger with their adventuresome spirit and rash actions but make no contingencies for any corrective measures. The problem with the “right” is their tendency to surrender and become overly anxious and allow a spirit of fear to gobble them up. The teaching from the Bible is this: “And whenever you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear this command behind you: ‘This is the way. Walk in it.’ ” (Isaiah 30:21)
3.       The Power of Adaptability. This does not mean being unprincipled and rudderless at the mercy of which way the wind blows.  The smooth transition of worship from offline to online testifies to the creative adaptability of the structure of the church that enables the Gospel to be preached everywhere.  The Lord sends out his disciples with these words: “Look, I’m sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore, be as shrewd as serpents and as harmless as doves. (Matthew 10:16)  As far as practices go, we may have variations but we will always be as harmless as doves.
4.       Appreciate What I Have.  “Since it’s here, accept it with equanimity.”  (Analects of Confucius) For the things that we cannot control, we pray.  For the things we need to do, do it to the best of our ability.  For those who are sheltered in place, let us use this as a memorable experience for life, thankful for the opportunity to be gathered together, united as a family.
5.       Loving One Another. A Chinese saying tells it plainly: “Send coals in the deep of winter, not add flowers to a brocade!”  It means that we are to provide timely and appropriate help to those in need.  This pandemic is an opportune time for us to care for people in need in our community, living out Christ and witnessing for Him.  Let us extend our helping hands in tangible ways, to pray, to care, to give of our material resources such as providing face masks to our medical professionals so that each heart will feel the warmth of the love of God.
6.       The Speed of Infection.  There’s a saying:  Bad news travels faster than good news! Viruses destroy people.  Christ builds people. The spread of the coronavirus is simply frightening. In a matter of a few months, its reach has been around the world. Taking a cue from the pandemic, it reminded us of the spread of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Yet two thousand years later, there are still many unreached people groups all over the world.  The church should reflect on deploying the best and newest technology to reach the world with the life changing Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
7.       We are humanity. The world we live in is a global village.  Formerly, we lived as if the concerns of others were none of our business, caring just for ourselves.  We are wrong. If there is a person in Africa who has a need, that should concern me as much here in North America.  I will have to learn how to care and love people on an ever-expanding perimeter.  In this pandemic, I will continue to pray and to reflect upon life. In the words of Xuefu Wang, the Director of a Psychology Clinic in Nanjing, in his article “Putting Aside our Mourning” said: “ In general, it could be said that a set-back in life could generate a breakthrough and a crisis is both a danger and an opportunity.  We can make a choice as to what life could be for us. In life, there are gains and losses.  It is our response to these that a meaningful life is created. Our everyday existence is a process of finding that meaning.  There are the “good” and the “bad” in life.  It is not just the “good” that defines that meaning for us.  The “bad” can do as well, or even much more! Therefore, the pursuit of a meaningful life requires us to go deeper in finding out what that meaning is.”
Brothers and sisters, can you find the “good” in the “bad” pandemic?
(April 1. 2020 “From the Pastor”, a weekly column.)
Pastor Chunhai Li is the Pastor of the Immanuel Chinese Baptist Church, Little Rock, Arkansas.
Rev. Amos Lee is the Executive Director of the Chinese Baptist Fellowship of the US and Canada.

         最近大家关注最多的仍然是疫情的问题。 面对这洪水猛兽般的袭击,每个人会做出不同的反应。遇到此类事件,心理学的分析认为,对于从小生活相对平顺的人会在危险中淡化痛苦,顺利度过危机。有些人在危机中做鸵鸟,把头埋在沙子里,做好自我防御,不费力地度过危机。有些在童年遭受苦难的人在危机中受伤,眼前的事件激活了他们过去的创伤,怕灾难再一次降临到他们头上,便用尽一切办法来控制灾难再次降临。还有些人在危机中疗愈过去的创伤,把自己放在事件中重新检审自己,使自己从过去的痛苦中走出来。对于我个人而言,基督信仰改变我的人生。我在主里面突破早年家庭的困窘,脱离疾病的捆绑束缚,破茧而出,坚定信仰,积极生活。在最近的祈祷中,我思想最多的是疫情到底在教导我什么?
1.   突破认知。“我自知我无知”(苏格拉底语)。新冠状病毒给全世界最优秀的科学家出了一道难题。它传播的方式、速度及范围都挑战着人类的认知。尽管我们相信问题最终会得到解决,但在这个艰难的探索过程中,人类仍在挣扎。
2.   不偏左右:希腊文中“罪”的原意是“箭没有射中靶心”,即过犹不及都是罪。面对疫情,左倾冒险主义的错误是鲁莽行事,明知危险却不采取任何应对措施;右倾投降主义者则过于担心,每天让惧怕之灵吞噬灵魂。圣灵对圣徒的指引却是:“你或向左,或向右,你必听见后面有声音说:‘这是正路,要行在期间’”(赛3020-21)。
3.  应变能力:这绝非毫无原则地见风使舵。教会崇拜从线下到线上的转变,是基于教会本质的不变性,在形式上做出灵活的调整,使主的福音更好地得到广传。主差派他门徒出去传道时嘱咐他们说:“……所以你们要灵巧像蛇,驯良像鸽子”(太10)。尽管在方法上可以多样,但我们要永远保持鸽子般驯良的品质。
4.   珍惜拥有:“既来之,则安之”(《论语·季氏》)。对于无法掌控的大局我们祈祷交托,对于应尽的义务我们竭尽全力。对于多数暂时困在家里的人,我们却应感恩珍惜与家人的相处和团聚,让这段时光成为人生中最美的亲情时光。
5.   彼此相爱:我们要雪中送炭,而非锦上添花。这时正是教会活出基督、关爱他人的最佳良机。当看到有需要的人,让我们伸出手来,通过祈祷、关怀、物质的奉献或向医护人员捐助口罩等具体行动,让每颗心灵得到温暖。
6.  传播速度:俗语说:“好事不出门,坏事传千里”。病毒破坏人,基督建造人。新冠状病毒传播速度惊人。短短几个月里它已波及全世界,恶名昭著且家喻户晓。换个角度看,基督福音的好消息已传播近两千年,却在世界的很多角落仍有大量“未得之地”。教会应深思,如何采取新媒体在内的各种方式,将建造人生命的福音快快传开,使更多人得到永恒的生命。
7.  人类共同体:人类是个地球村。从前“各人自扫门前雪,莫问他人瓦上霜”或“事不关己高高挂起”的态度是错误的。也许一位身处非洲有困难的人和在北美生活的我是息息相关的。我学习“爱人”的范围需要不断拓展与突破。在疫情期间,我会继续祈祷和反思。南京直面心理诊所所长王学富老师在《那份搁置的哀丧》一文中指出:对于任何人来说都可以如此,一个挫折可以激发一场突破,一场危机里同时含有危险与机会,我们可以做出选择。人生充满得与失,我们正是通过对得与失做出好的回应来创造着生活的意义。生活本身是一个意义采撷的过程,生活事件有‘好’有‘坏’,并非只有‘好’才让人生有意义,‘坏’里同样含有意义,甚至含有更深的意义,这意义需要我们进行深度采撷”。弟兄姐妹,你有留意从‘坏’的疫情中采撷到‘好’的意义吗?                             202041日牧者之言)