General Conference

No war has led to this

Silver Spring, Maryland, United States | Frank Hazel, associate director of the Institute for Biblical Research, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists

No catastrophe, no tsunami, no earthquake, flood, hurricane, or famine has had such a global effect.

No punishment has ever made us behave this way.

While someone is waiting for the Sunday law to be imposed on us, a microscopic organism called COVID-19 has caused such devastating global chaos. He made a coup that no one expected. With incredible speed and unexpected global reach, he pushed us to keep our distance. Humans were created to live in communities, not distance and isolate themselves. This caused enormous difficulties. The fact that we were forced to stay away from each other for days, then weeks, now months - and no one knows how long it will last - has changed nearly everything about our lives and communication. It has and will continue to seriously affect the global economy as well, so much so that Black Tuesday and the Great Depression will seem like easy things to us.

The new experiences of social distancing that we have had to endure have significantly limited our freedom. Limitations on personal freedom and the right to assemble and worship have raised serious questions about government, religious freedom, and our human responsibility in such a situation. Suddenly, we were unable to gather in groups of more than five or ten people for prayer meetings - not even at home. Social distancing has driven us to the point where we can no longer enjoy the blessing of brotherly fellowship with believers who loved to gather for Sabbath services in our churches. We are literally locked in our homes. Instead of enjoying face-to-face meetings with friends during worship services, we are, at best, forced to watch virtual worship services on a TV or computer screen.

From a social point of view, we are drowning in the worst social experience since World War II. This is all due to a tiny virus that no one knew about just a few months ago - that didn't even exist a few months ago! This small virus is so powerful that it has infected countless numbers of people around the world with a fatal disease. Perhaps even more contagious than the virus is its ability to instill fear and anxiety in the hearts of many of us. Every mild cough or sneeze, even during spring allergies in some parts of the world, makes us fear that we have contracted the virus. After all, the virus cannot be seen. Cannot be heard. You cannot smell it. You cannot feel it. One can feel healthy, but spread the disease. How malicious is this virus!

It's amazing how quickly we got used to talking about "social distance" in terms that are of little use. In this global health crisis and pandemic, we are forced to actually maintain physical distance to avoid the spread of the virus, while at the same time looking for ways to increase social protection. This requires us to be creative, dedicated, compassionate, and loving. The needy, the vulnerable, the lonely, and the fearful need our special attention and support.

And here is where we Seventh-day Adventists have a unique opportunity to show the world the best that our Savior and Friend Jesus Christ taught us: That perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18).

For there is one thing this virus cannot do and which it will never, ever achieve: It can never separate us from the tender love of God. The Apostle Paul confirmed this with his wonderful words: “For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor beginnings, nor powers, nor present, nor future, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature can separate us from love in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38, 39).

This love motivates us to be kind to others.

This love teaches us to patiently await relief and release.

This love motivates us to share what we have with those in need.

This love forces us to actively help those who cannot help themselves.

This love sustains those who are afraid.

This love finds ways to communicate with the lonely.

This love teaches us to listen to those who need an attentive companion.

This love brings a kind smile on the faces of those who are afraid.

This love gives courage in the face of danger.

This love endures times of adversity.

This love is exalted over fear.

This love makes us heralds of hope in times of suffering.

This love does not stop at difficulties.

Let us share the good news and the living gospel of God's love, manifested in compassion and concern during times of physical distancing, for the health of us all.

Biblical Research Institute Bulletin