A solution to the problem of the great global crisis resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic would be that we would be able to see the virus. The fact that borders and non-essential businesses have been closed, events have been canceled, we are forced to stay at home, and other restrictions derive from the fact that we don’t know where the virus is and, therefore, we have no way of attacking and destroying it.
Imagine going out of your home and, as you drive down the road, you suddenly see a cloud of coronaviruses before you. Pedestrians run to and fro as they try to avoid getting infected; others shake off their clothes and, almost instantly, the police arrive to cordon off the place while a special squad, with protective gear, spray the place with disinfectants that obliterate the feared virus right away. Thanks to the fact that you were able to see the danger, you may switch to a different street, change your route, and get rid of the potential risk. In a worst-case scenario, you could perhaps call off your prospective appointment, avoid attending school, or church, miss your flight or even an important meeting or business, but thanks to your ability to see where the virus is, the crisis would not affect you in the same way it is affecting us know.
During the first few months of this year, once the outbreak of the novel coronavirus became known, some countries across Asia implemented measures to prevent a greater crisis. Among them, they developed mobile geolocation apps, which the government uses to pinpoint and customize the follow-up of every single case. Thus, they managed, if needed, to isolate a person, a family, or even a neighborhood, but not the whole country. This is so, thanks to the possibility of detecting the virus, knowing where it is and how it can be countered.
Contemplating an immediate future after a paralysis of the economy as a result of the lockdown, apart from social, sport, and entertainment-related activities compels us to face uncertain situations. Universities that have already announced that they won’t open their facilities until January 2021, perhaps are now working on renovation plans and reconsidering their structures and strategies. Airline companies that have hundreds of planes idly parked due to the cancellation of business flights are probably looking for ways to merge, so as to stay in business. A discussion about redesigning urban and architectural environments is currently taking place, with public parks of limited capacity, and offices that will change their configuration to environments with greater social distancing, and companies that will even adopt working from home in a more permanent way. We can also imagine doctors’ appointments through videoconferencing and worship centers with praise restrictions or even with the prohibition of saying ‘Amen’ in a loud voice. However, all those are speculations and predictions, which may become as real or as imaginary as time and the elimination of the virus happens to determine them.
2 Kings 6 tells the story of a war that the Syrians waged against Israel. Even though the Syrians were searching everywhere, they could not find the Israelites because they did not know precisely where they were moving their camps. On the other hand, the people of Israel had a type of GPS, because a man of God was leading them from one place to the other. This, thanks to the fact that the Lord knew where their enemies were and guided them to change routes and stay safe. Even though the Israelites could not actually see the Syrian army with their eyes, they managed to avoid danger, thanks to divine intervention.
When someone finally revealed to the king of Syria that the key was to find prophet Elisha, who was the one behind the geolocation warnings, they went to look for him and surrounded the place where he was staying. When the prophet’s servant found out they were surrounded, he was full of fear, because it was a large, well equipped and threatening army, and there was no way out. But very calmly, the prophet prayed, asking God to open the eyes of his assistant, so he could see a different reality. He asked for his servant not to dwell on traditional methods but for the Lord to reveal to him a new reality. The prophet also asked God to blind the sight of the enemy soldiers. That blindness changed the situation completely. Since they were not able to see, Elisha himself led them to a different place and they never again waged war against Israel.
Our ability to see the virus would help us to attack it and avoid it, but the impossibility of seeing the immediate future, can lead us to panic and, even worse, avoid facing it in a sensible way. Thinking that very soon we’ll be back to normal could make us so comfortable that we reject any change to our patterns, structures, habits, and methods.
The solution to surviving what the future may bring is to ask God to open our eyes, so we can see what His will is for us.
Abel Márquez is the communication director for the Inter-American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.