Spirit of Grace Ministries
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Surviving the Storms of Life

By Dennis Pollock


As I write these words, the terrible COVID pandemic seems to be winding down in the U. S. Millions of Americans have been vaccinated, over half the adult population, and millions more have already had Coronavirus and have strong antibodies in their system which normally protect from getting a serious case of COVID in the near future. Reported cases of COVID are plummeting and deaths due to the virus are dropping even more. Stores, shops, and even movie theaters have opened again in most parts of our nation. The roads and skies of America are filled with unworried travelers, and America is getting back to business as usual, with a few holdouts.


As we look back over the last year and a half, some things have become obvious. The most obvious of all is that while millions have died, most have survived. Most children, most adults, and even most seniors. The Coronavirus has been deadly, but not quite as deadly as we once thought.


When the Coronavirus became a major threat to Americans, back in March 2020, our nation went into full scale panic. Fights broke out in stores if someone didn't wear their mask, people hurried by one another in the aisles, even when both were fully masked. It almost appeared as if people really believed that getting COVID was a death sentence. You get it today; you die tomorrow.


Crunching the Numbers


Early on I did a little calculation, dividing the number of COVID deaths by the number of COVID cases. I'm sure this wasn't a perfect way to determine this, but using my simple calculation, it seemed to me that getting the Coronavirus meant that you had about a 98 percent chance of surviving and a 2 percent chance of dying from it. And this seemed significantly better odds than most people were assuming.


But this included everybody, old and young, healthy and sick, obese and fit, diabetic and non-diabetic. As it turned out, if you were under 65, fit, and didn't have any "co-morbidities" (which was a new word we all learned) your chances of dying from COVID were well under 1 percent. 99 out of every 100 healthy people, who were not old, would survive COVID.


But this wasn't even the whole story. As the pandemic wore on, millions of Americans got COVID and simply rode it out in their homes. Many experienced a fever, lost their sense of taste and smell for a few days, got better, and went on with their lives. But these were never reported. They were not official "COVID cases" since they never went to the hospital. And when we factor in the people who got COVID, never reported it, and were thus not a part of the official statistics, it becomes evident that for people in their middle age or younger, who were not obese, diabetic, or asthmatic, the odds of dying from COVID were incredibly small. Of course, with millions and millions getting the disease, perhaps the most infectious virus ever to hit America, there would naturally be some healthy and relatively young people, who for mysterious reasons would die, but most did not. And the more people that survived COVID, the more Americans there were who were highly unlikely to get it again, or if they did get it, would be extremely unlikely to have a serious case.


Confusion & Chaos


In those early days, confusion reigned. Even the experts seemed uncertain about so many things. We were told at first that masks did little to prevent the virus and could do more harm than good, by giving us a false sense of security. Later it was decided that masks were useful after all, and we should all wear them every time we left the house. Even at the restaurants some were saying we should keep our masks on between bites of food. And by the end of 2020 we were told that one mask was really not enough, two would be better and three would be ideal. Hardly anybody took that advice, but it became official dogma.


At first people were wiping everything down. Your table and your counters must be sanitized after every meal, and even Amazon packages were being wiped down with germ-killing sanitizers before being touched. Later the "experts" backed off from that and told us that Coronavirus was primarily an airborne infectious disease, and that transmission from hard surfaces was very unlikely.


Schools were shut down and children were being taught through a few daily hours of watching their teachers over the Internet. Poor children whose homes had no Internet were out of luck. But as statistics were gathered it became evident that children and teens did not get COVID easily, and once they had it, they nearly always shook it off in a few days. And they rarely spread it to adults. It has been suggested that children were up to ten times more likely to die from a regular flu than from Coronavirus, and were also more likely to die from a lightning strike than Coronavirus. As it turns out, there was little reason for all the school closings.


Coronavirus became a political football. Republicans tended to be against mask-pushing, but Democrats never saw a mask they didn't love. Democrats were all for shutting down and locking down, whereas many Republicans wanted the freedom to act just as though there were no such thing as the Pandemic.


Is Caution a Lack of Faith?


The majority of evangelical Christians tended to take the Republican view of things, which is natural since the majority of evangelicals are Republicans. Beyond that, however, many Christians saw it as a lack of faith to change their behavior in even the smallest matters and wanted to live and act as though all was perfectly normal.


I am an evangelical, of course, but I never fully endorsed the "Let's-act-as-though-COVID-doesn't-exist" approach. The Bible tells us that Jesus Himself took precautions in certain instances. We read in John:


After these things Jesus walked in Galilee; for He did not want to walk in Judea, because the Jews sought to kill Him. (John 7:1)


Jesus, living as a man, did what most men would do: He avoided a dangerous situation. He was not afraid to die, but He had no wish to die before His time, which I must believe should be the attitude for all of us who follow Him. To live a bit cautiously and conservatively does not represent a lack of faith; it demonstrates an abundance of wisdom. And I applied this principle as I maneuvered my way through the pandemic. I wore my mask (but only one) and I sanitized my hands after being in a public place.


Much "Misinformation"


Nevertheless, it is apparent now that throughout much of the pandemic, we were being supplied a lot of erroneous information. Even the discussion of the origins of COVID were seemingly wrong. Throughout 2020 we were told that it came as a result of a jump from a bat to a human – certainly the fact that there was a lab where researchers studied various forms of COVID in Wuhan, China where the Coronavirus first appeared, had nothing to do with it! Today all the experts are backtracking, and admitting that, yes, this terrible virus may well have come from that lab. It would seem that the press and many of the "experts" were so determined to prove President Trump wrong, they responded with a knee-jerk reaction when the president suggested that it came from the lab. These folks didn't just dislike Trump or disagree with him. They hated him with a virulent and unrelenting passion, and therefore if he said something, the exact opposite must surely be the case.


The vaccines clearly do work to protect against the virus, as plummeting rates of COVID demonstrate, but even with these there has been confusion and controversy. Many people instinctively distrust anything the government's hand has touched and absolutely refuse to consider being vaccinated. Evangelicals often fit into this category, but by no means all. Even in families there is a dividing line. I was vaccinated as soon as I was able, but my wife, Benedicta, thus far, has resisted. Are there long-range consequences to the Coronavirus vaccines? I doubt it, but only time will tell. Baseball legend Henry Aaron died two weeks after being vaccinated, but millions of others have taken the vaccine and suffered no serious consequences.


Points of Agreement


Two things all Christians can agree on is that 1) Our lives are in God's hands, and 2) None of us are going to live forever. If you are reading this, you obviously have lived through the worst of the pandemic, and chances are you have either been vaccinated or have already had COVID. And this means you will not likely die of COVID. You will die, of course, of a heart attack, or cancer, or old age, or something else, but probably not COVID.


And this brings us to the most important point of all. The apostle Paul wrote some words a long time ago which are at the heart of the believer's attitude toward dangerous and deadly situations. Paul wrote: "For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." When it comes to diseases, viruses, pandemics, heart attacks, pneumonia or cancer, we can all agree that the worst-case scenario is surely death. But for the disciple of Christ, the worst-case is the best-case! Again, it is Paul who tells us, "But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better" (Philippians 1:22-23).


Not just slightly better or somewhat better or significantly better, but according to Paul, when our spirit takes wings and departs to join Jesus in heaven, it is "far better" for us. We will try as much as we can to live to old age and bear fruit for our Master, but when our time comes, we will gladly go to be with Jesus. And this is why our attitude toward life and death never really changes. In 2019, my attitude was "to live is Christ and to die is gain." In 2020, the year of Coronavirus, my attitude was still "to live is Christ and to die is gain." And should the Lord allow me to live another ten years, in the year 2031 my attitude will be, you guessed it, "To live is Christ and to die is gain." That is a constant for people who follow and trust in Jesus.


Storms of Life


In some ways the Coronavirus was like a terrible storm, a hurricane that swept down upon our entire world. We had no idea it was coming. Most of us did not even know what a Coronavirus was at the beginning of 2019, but by the end of 2020 we all knew. Today, that storm has subsided. The winds have died down and we are in the mopping-up phase. Masks have come off, stadiums are filling, and travel and social events are back in a big way.


But one thing is certain – if we live much longer, we will face other storms. They may not be worldwide storms; they may be very unique and personal storms. I have known plenty of personal storms throughout my years, and they are not fun. But just as the COVID storm came and is finally departing, so it will be with our personal storms. As with Coronavirus, there will be confusion and uncertainty. We will misunderstand some things and make some poor decisions in our perplexity. But in the end, as we keep our eyes on the One who is the storm-calmer, the Lord Jesus, we will find those ferocious winds retreating, and God's favor and His sunshine once again gracing our lives. And once the storm is over and past, we may just hear a still small voice from above, saying, "O ye of little faith. Why did you doubt?"


The Lord Jesus is our Shepherd. We can trust Him. He will lead us into green pastures and beside still waters. And He is quite adept at storm-calming.





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