It’s a first in world history: an online Holy Week for millions of people, even in Vatican City, due to the coronavirus pandemic. Rappler presents a series of reflections to help you, our reader, enter the spirit of Holy Week even in quarantine.
In early January, the novel coronavirus was a disease so new that many thought would just affect the city of Wuhan in China. This was until several countries, including the Philippines, reported their first confirmed COVID-19 case. Since then, the world has never been the same. Some of those who perished are people we already know, causing unexplainable grief to families and friends.
Several questions come to mind in this time of global pandemic. Thankfully, the Bible offers comforting answers.
The first question is, why do people get sick and why do people die?
Hearing the death of a person is painful enough much so the death of over a thousand people in a single day and country due to the pandemic.
Why do people die? The Bible’s answer is “The sting producing death is sin” (1 Corinthians 15:56). God, whose name is Jehovah, created Adam and Eve to live forever in Paradise. Yet in the Garden of Eden, they chose to rebel and sin against God. As a result, “sin entered into the world and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men because they had all sinned” (Romans 5:12). People die of old age, accidents and sickness because of the sin passed on to us. All of us die in the end because we all sin.
The second question is, what happens to people when they die?
More than 50,000 people succumbed to COVID-19 in a matter of 4 months. Where have all they gone? The Bible’s reply is “For dust you are and to dust you will return” (Genesis 3:19). These were the words spoken by God to Adam when he willfully disobeyed. Adam ceased to exist. In Ecclesiastes 9:5, King Solomon further explained that “the dead know nothing at all.”
Jesus, the son of Jehovah, provided a glimpse of what happened to his good friend when he died. Jesus told his disciples: “Lazarus our friend has fallen asleep” (John 11:11). Jesus likened death to sleep. Just as a person in deep sleep is inactive and unaware of what is happening around him, the dead are unconscious of anything at all. Just as a person can be awakened from a deep sleep, the Bible said that it is possible to be awakened from death.
Yes, there is a hope of a resurrection. The faithful man Job asked: “If a man dies, can he live again?” His reply was “You will call, and I will answer you. You will long the work of your hands” (Job 14: 13-15). This is what will exactly happen when Jehovah raises our loved ones from death through resurrection that is soon to come (John 5:28, 29).
The third question is, why does God allow suffering?
COVID-19 has brought enormous sufferings to people who lost their loved ones. Meanwhile, several thousand others are still battling against the disease. Some may start to think that these are trials from God. Some may even be blaming God for all the bad things that are happening.
Did God cause these sufferings? The Bible provides an answer on James 1:13, “When under trial, let no one say: ‘I am being tried by God.’ For with evil things God cannot be tried nor does he himself try anyone.” Instead of blaming God, the Bible tells us that “The whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one” (1 John 5:19). The “wicked” one here is Satan, the spirit creature who deceived Adam and Eve into thinking that they would not die if they disobeyed Jehovah.
Satan also questioned Jehovah’s right to rule way back in the Garden of Eden. He implied that mankind would be better off without God’s rulership. Since Jehovah was challenged before millions of angels, he allowed Satan to show how he would rule the world. God has also allowed men to rule themselves. Throughout history, Satan’s rulership has only brought wars, poverty, sickness, and death. Jehovah will soon bring an end to sufferings and will use Jesus “to break up the works of the Devil,” pandemics included (1 John 3:8).
The fourth question is, are we living in “the Last Days” with this pandemic?
Despite all medical advances and the good intentions to develop medicines and vaccines by scientists, fatal and debilitating diseases continue to emerge. With epidemics, wars, earthquakes, and food shortages, it is only right to conclude that we are living in what the Bible refers to as “the last days” (2 Timothy 3:1, Luke 21:11). What then after “the last days”? The Bible promises a better future ahead.
The fifth question is, when will we see the end of pandemics?
As countries strive to end COVID-19, future pandemics will continue to threaten us. What does the future hold? The Bible gives an answer on Revelation 21:4: “And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.” Yes, Jehovah will undo sickness and death for eternity. This is a promise he is offering to people who are willing to get to know him and his son, Jesus. (John 17:3) It is a future when “no resident will say: ‘I am sick.’ (Isaiah 33:24) – Rappler.comMarian Pausanos is one of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Health concerns are close to her heart as she works in the healthcare sector and has seen sufferings brought about by diseases, conflicts, and poverty as a freelance journalist. Here are other Reflections:
- REFLECTIONS] Glimpses of God’s presence amid a pandemic
- [REFLECTIONS] Why, Lord?
- [REFLECTIONS] Turning the coronavirus crisis into opportunity
- [REFLECTIONS] Look out for the loneliest amid the pandemic – Pope Francis
- [REFLECTIONS] Faith in the risen Jesus amid the coronavirus
- [REFLECTIONS] Business temporarily closed: Jesus, what now?
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