A Canadian rapper, a heavy metal band, and an Italian opera singer are making news today.
Andrea Bocelli set a record for a classical live stream with his inspirational Easter Sunday performance at the empty Duomo in Milan. Drake’s latest video, which was made while the rapper was quarantined in Toronto, debuted at No. 2 on YouTube’s US Top Videos chart. He wore a mask and gloves to signify his COVID-19 precautions.
And Metallica’s return to the US charts followed a recent series of its performances uploaded to YouTube. They are just one of the groups being used to raise funds and awareness for pandemic-related causes.
I doubt the three have made the same headline often in their careers, but these are unusual times.
In other pandemic-related celebrity news, Matt Damon is spending time in the small town of Dalkey, Ireland, where he was shooting a film when the pandemic forced the area into lockdown. He’s been taking photos with locals and eating in the restaurants with his family.
Matthew McConaughey, Peyton Manning, and Shaquille O’Neal have surprised students and teachers in virtual classrooms recently. Jennifer Garner, Amy Adams, and Ryan Reynolds and his wife, Blake Lively, are just some of the other celebrities also making significant contributions during this crisis.
President Trump announced yesterday the White House’s plan for rolling back social distancing measures and reopening the country’s economy. The strategy calls for three phases based on the severity of the coronavirus outbreak in each individual state or region.
This plan was created by the White House Coronavirus Task Force, most of whom have not been in the news. It depends on widespread testing, essential work that will be done by frontline healthcare professionals who will not make headlines but whose service is crucial to our nation.
They are part of a massive effort by medical researchers and pharmaceutical companies to find therapies and an eventual vaccine for this horrific disease. These professionals are unknown to most of us, but their work is vital to our lives and world.
“The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here”
One of the horrible fears this pandemic has sparked is the fear of dying alone or at a hospital unattended by family members. This is one symptom of our larger fear of anonymity, of being unknown or unvalued by others.
However, it’s a fact of history that history is most often made by people it doesn’t record by name. General Dwight D. Eisenhower is credited with leading the D-Day invasion that helped end World War II, but he was actually in England as the invasion proceeded. He would have been the first to say that it was the unnamed soldiers who fought and died at Normandy who won the battle and eventually the war.
Thomas Edison is rightly credited with inventions that changed our world. But when I read Edmund Morris’ fascinating biography of the great inventor, I learned that Edison would never have achieved success without colleagues and supporters whose names I had never heard.
I wrote this morning about Abraham Lincoln’s humor in the face of horrific suffering and stress. While Lincoln was without question one of the greatest leaders our nation has ever known, he was quick to credit Gen. Ulysses Grant for winning the Civil War. His Gettysburg Address noted that “the brave men, living and dead, who struggled here,” were the ones who consecrated the land they dedicated that day.
“With God we shall do valiantly”
Our victory over COVID-19 depends on women and men whose names we do not know but whose sacrifice is essential to our lives and future. Of course, the One whose strength we need most to defeat this invisible enemy is the One who is himself not visible in our fallen world.
David prayed, “Oh grant us help against the foe, for vain is the salvation of man!” (Psalm 108:12). Even when a vaccine eradicates SARS-CoV-2, there will be other diseases to fight that are just as deadly. As the storms last weekend and the storms predicted for this weekend show, we will constantly be in a battle with our fallen world for survival. And we will always need a Savior to give us hope in this life and paradise in the life to come.
When we trust him, we can trust the way he will respond to our trust. David continued: “With God we shall do valiantly; it is he who will tread down our foes” (v. 13). In this world and the next, victory is certain.
“The two answers to your prayer are yes and yes”
So, do what God has called you to do in this world. Whether the world knows your name or not, you can rest assured that your Father knows your name and will reward your faithfulness forever.
And trust your unseen Lord with your greatest needs today, knowing that he always hears your prayers and is always on his throne.
In his unforgettable eulogy at the memorial service for Dr. Lois Evans, her son Jonathan explained how God had responded to his family’s prayers for her:
“There were always only two answers to your prayers—either she was going to be healed or she was going to be healed. Either she was going to live or she was going to live. Either she was going to be with family or she was going to be with family. Either she was going to be well taken care of or she was going to be well taken care of. . . .
“The two answers to your prayer are yes and yes. Because victory belongs to Jesus.”
Do you agree?