Prince Harry and his wife Meghan are officially making the transition today from senior members of Britain’s royal family. However, the Associated Press reports that their future is “unclear. International celebrities, charity patrons, global influencers?”
In their final post from their now-mothballed SussexRoyal Instagram account, the couple said, “As we can all feel, the world at this moment seems extraordinarily fragile. . . . What’s most important right now is the health and well-being of everyone across the globe and finding solutions for the many issues that have presented themselves as a result of this pandemic.”
How artificial intelligence is fighting coronavirus
Such “solutions” are being developed with escalating frequency today.
For instance, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expediting its review of diagnostic tests to combat COVID-19. The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is likewise accelerating clinical trials for coronavirus vaccines.
The FDA has approved an Israeli drug for use on COVID-19 patients, hoping it will help prevent Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, a condition that is responsible for about 50 percent of coronavirus fatalities. The FDA is also partnering with other agencies to accelerate 3D printing innovations in response to the pandemic. They will be working to create face shields, ventilator adapters, and medical prototypes.
In addition, HHS has accepted thirty million doses of hydroxychloroquine sulfate and one million doses of chloroquine phosphate for possible use in treating patients hospitalized with COVID-19 or for use in clinical trials. Johnson & Johnson is ramping up production on its $1 billion coronavirus vaccine for market early next year.
Ford is partnering with GE Healthcare to produce fifty thousand ventilators by July. Artificial intelligence is being developed to screen people who might be infected by the virus and to identify high-risk patients, screen frontline healthcare workers, detect COVID-19, distinguish it from other respiratory illnesses, and predict which COVID-19 patients will deteriorate.
The Army Corps of Engineers is creating alternative care facilities, transforming buildings into hospitals for COVID-19 patients. They are looking at 114 facilities in all fifty states. And Samaritan’s Purse is setting up an emergency field hospital in New York’s Central Park.
Will America be more like Southern California?
There’s more good news in the news: New York Times columnist Ross Douthat points to evidence from fever rates indicating that social distancing might be having a positive effect.
Douthat also contrasts the crisis in Greater New York with the lower COVID-19 case and death rate in Southern California, which perhaps is at least partially the result of New York City’s high population density and heavy reliance on mass transit. If so, “one could hope that America as a whole, with our exurbs and sprawling cities and wide-aisled supermarkets and car-based commutes, is more like California than like Gotham.” And he notes that the widespread use of masks in East Asia might be adopted here to positive effect.
Here’s the bad news: the US coronavirus death toll has passed three thousand victims. More than 160,000 people in the US are known to be infected with the virus—the highest number for a single country anywhere in the world. One model estimates that even with social distancing in place through May, around 82,000 people in the US could die from COVID-19 by August.
Since these Special Editions are intended to offer ways to fight fear with faith, let’s focus today on our fear that all we are doing will not be enough. Despite monumental efforts by scientists, government agencies, private enterprise, and especially by our healthcare heroes, death tolls will continue to grow. We may lose someone we love. You may already have lost someone you love.
How do we trust God with our fears of inadequacy in light of this deadly threat?
“I have loved you with an everlasting love”
One answer is to remember that the worst that can happen to us leads to the best that can happen to us.
Paul was fearless in advancing God’s kingdom because this fact resonated deeply in his soul. He could declare to Christians in Rome, the chief persecutor of Christians, “If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s” (Romans 14:8).
Writing from a Roman prison cell, he could testify to Christians in Philippi, “It is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:20–21). You and I can be as certain of our eternal status as was the great apostle because such status is guaranteed not by us but by our Father.
Henri Nouwen makes this point powerfully: “Just try for a moment to enter this enormous mystery that you, like Jesus, are the beloved daughter or the beloved son of God. This is the truth. Furthermore, your belovedness preceded your birth. You were the beloved before your father, mother, brother, sister, or church loved you or hurt you. You are the beloved because you belong to God from all eternity.
“God loved you before you were born, and God will love you after you die. In Scripture, God says, ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love.’ This is a very fundamental truth of your identity. This is who you are whether you feel like it or not. You belong to God from eternity to eternity. Life is just a little opportunity for you during a few years to say, ‘I love you, too.'”
The next time fear of mortality strikes, claim God’s assurance: “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3). Then substitute your name for “you”: “I have loved Jim with an everlasting love.”
Say it aloud to yourself.
And know that this is what your Father is saying to you, right now.
This is the promise and the invitation of God.