In the “truth is stranger than fiction” category: the patron saint of resisting epidemics is named St. Corona. She was martyred as a teenager eighteen hundred years ago; her relics have been preserved in Germany since AD 997. Her shrine is being prepared for display once the pandemic has passed.
Other strange news is much less inspiring: a New Jersey man has been charged with harassment and making terroristic threats after he allegedly purposely coughed on a person and said he had coronavirus. A man in Belton, Missouri, allegedly planned to car-bomb a hospital struggling with the pandemic. And a traveler told reporters that he was the only passenger on his Southwest flight from Dallas to Houston on Tuesday.
The news we’re all waiting for, of course, is the announcement that scientists have discovered a vaccine or cure for coronavirus. We trust that day will come one day.
When it does, as with crises of the past, we will remember then what people are doing now. From the president and members of Congress to our local leaders and those we know personally, actions taken (or not taken) today will echo for many years to come.
As a result, this day is the best day to decide how we want to be remembered when the pandemic is over. Let’s look at some predictions for future outcomes of the present crisis, then decide what legacy we wish to write for ourselves.
A new era of bipartisanship?
The US Senate unanimously approved a $2.2 trillion economic package late Wednesday night. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi predicts that it will pass the House today with “strong bipartisan support.”
James Baker, the former secretary of state and treasury, hopes that such bipartisanship will continue: “Americans must once again learn to talk sincerely with each other about solutions to our problems rather than yell at each other about the cause of them. The current dilemma presents all of us with the opportunity to begin reversing this troubling trend.”
Rahm Emanuel, former mayor of Chicago, agrees: “The two positives I see are that, rather than view the federal government as a problem, we might start to see it as a solution, as a net plus. And second, we might end this period of not investing in America.”
Politics professor Samuel J. Abrams believes that the pandemic could bring about a “critical realignment” whereby Americans turn away from partisanship and a new coalition rises “to alter and realign the current, entrenched, polarized state.”
A new commitment to compassion?
Elton John will host a benefit concert airing Sunday night that pays tribute to front line healthcare workers and first responders. Other performers include Tim McGraw, Mariah Carey, Alicia Keys, and Billie Eilish.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has committed $100 million to aid global detection, isolation, and treatment of COVID-19. Forbes has a long list of other billionaires who are also taking significant steps to fight the disease.
Apple is using its supply chain to procure and donate ten million N95 protective masks to combat the virus. Veterinarians are donating breathing machines, masks, gowns, and other vital equipment and supplies. Ralph Lauren will join other fashion brands in making medical masks and gowns.
The UK is witnessing “outbreaks of altruism” as 250,000 people volunteer to help the vulnerable. And Washington National Cathedral found more than five thousand N95 masks in its underground crypts, purchased in 2006 during the H5N1 flu outbreak. They are being donated to two area hospitals.
“A wide door for effective work has opened”
What could you and I do in these days that would be most memorable long after the pandemic is over?
Author James Clear publishes a newsletter each Thursday that I commend to you. Yesterday, he quoted Eugene Schwartz, a brilliant advertising executive, who explained how effective ads work: “Let’s get right down to the heart of the matter. The power, the force, the overwhelming urge to own that makes advertising work, comes from the market itself and not from the copy.
“Copy cannot create desire for a product. It can only take the hopes, dreams, fears, and desires that already exist in the hearts of millions of people and focus those already existing desires onto a particular product.
“This is the copywriter’s task: not to create this mass desire—but to channel and direct it.”
In these days of fear and anxiety, our greatest need is for the hope and help Jesus provides. Every person you draw closer to him is someone whose life will be changed in this life and the next. Every time you share God’s word with someone, every time you pray for someone, every time you offer an act or word of encouragement, you are making an eternal difference.
Paul told the Corinthians, “A wide door for effective work has opened for me, and there are many adversaries” (1 Corinthians 16:9). I believe he would say the same if he were with us today.
Despite our “many adversaries,” will you step through the doors God opens to your witness and ministry today?
NOTE: Today is the final day to request your copy of my latest book, Making Sense of Suffering. My son Ryan and I wrote this book to help you help others in pain. I can think of few more pressing issues for Christians to be prepared to address than this one—especially these days. When we are God’s hands to a hurting world, we reveal his heart for those in need. Please request your copy today.