A marathon on a balcony and postponing the Olympics: Why the only hope we have is the only hope we need

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A marathon on a balcony and postponing the Olympics: Why the only hope we have is the only hope we need

March 24, 2020 -

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A man signed up to run the Barcelona marathon on March 15 and the Paris marathon on April 5. Both were canceled because of the threat of COVID-19. So he ran 26.2 miles by lapping around his balcony.

In larger sports news, a veteran member of the International Olympic Committee told USA Today that the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo are going to be postponed, likely to 2021. He added that the committee will “begin to deal with all the ramifications of moving this, which are immense.” 

In other news, the Ohio Attorney General’s office has ordered abortion clinics in the state to stop performing “nonessential” abortions amid the coronavirus pandemic. The order will save innocent lives, at least for a while. 

Orders to shelter in place and packed beaches 

The coronavirus pandemic is affecting every dimension of our world. Prime Minister Boris Johnson placed Britain under a virtual lockdown yesterday. Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said people defying requests to isolate themselves should “go home and stay home” or face sanctions. 

In the US, according to the New York Times, there are at least 43,499 coronavirus cases as of this morning, and at least 537 patients with the virus have died. By tomorrow, when all sixteen current state orders take effect, more than 40 percent of the US population will be under orders to stay home. 

However, many are tragically ignoring such orders to shelter in place and avoid close contact with others, jeopardizing the health and lives of the rest of us. For instance, after California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a shelter-in-place order on March 20, many public spaces like the beach below were so full that officials in some cities had to close parks, recreation areas, and beaches.

Beachgoers are seen at Venice Beach, Saturday, March 21, 2020, in Los Angeles

The situation is so dire that the US Surgeon General has issued a warning: the outbreak is spreading because of those who are refusing social distancing requirements. “I want America to understand this week, it’s going to get bad,” he said. 

Coronavirus-related hate crimes are on the rise. White supremacists are urging their members who are infected to spread the virus to police and Jews. The virus is spreading in New York City’s prison population, posing a grave danger to incarcerated people and staff. 

A new appreciation for teachers 

But our culture is changing in positive ways as well. 

Virgin Atlantic founder Sir Richard Branson has announced a $250 million rescue package for his seventy thousand employees. A British billionaire set up a $35 million fund to help support his employees during the outbreak. 

One outcome of parents teaching their children at home is a new appreciation of teachers. (It’s been suggested that the first thing our nation’s teachers should do when they get back to work is ask for a raise.) And parents who want to take their children on a tour of the Louvre, the Sistine Chapel, and ten other great historic sites can now do so from their homes

As we are learning a new level of generosity, many are modeling such kindness personally. A brother and his sister in Ohio heard that their elderly neighbor was self-isolating to protect herself from the virus, so they took their cellos out on their porch and played a concert for her. And a teenager in California donated more than 150 coronavirus sanitation kits to the homeless people in her area. 

What is true of atomic bombs and pandemics 

As much as this pandemic is changing our lives and our world, here’s what it cannot change: you and I are no less mortal than we were before the pandemic started, and eternity is no less real. 

In the email version of Dallas Baptist University’s Daily Briefing for Monday, we read this statement from Pastor Sam Allberry: “The difference between the Christian gospel and the Disney gospel is this: Whenever you look deep down into your heart, you don’t find the solution to your angst. You find the cause of it.” 

Yesterday, I quoted from part of C. S. Lewis’s “On Living in an Atomic Age.” Here’s a different part of the essay, where he urged his readers: “Do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways.” 

The bomb merely “added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.” 

What is true of atomic bombs is true of viral pandemics as well. 

We are all on a flight to our “final destination” 

One way to think of the human race is to see ourselves as passengers on an airplane. The plane took off when we were conceived. It is flying for an undetermined length of time. Technological advances have improved the quality of our lives on the flight and lengthened its duration for many. 

But it is still an airplane in the air. It must land sometime. 

When it does, we will all get off and go to what the airlines call our “final destination.” The decisions made by passengers during the flight will determine their destination when they arrive. 

Jesus said to one thief at Calvary, “Today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). The other, unrepentant so far as we know, stepped into a Christ-less eternity in hell (cf. Revelation 20:15). These are the only two destinations available to us today. 

What has changed in these days is that more people are aware of their mortality. What has not changed is that Jesus is the only hope they have and the only hope they need (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). 

Are you praying for God to use the pandemic to bring the lost people you know to faith in Christ? Are you sharing your hope with them?

Will you today?

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