People are frightened by coronavirus to such an extent that some people are in denial that it will come to their area. Many forget that God is in control and that there are benefits from God’s providence.
Climate change, international terrorism and epidemics have the benefit of knocking international heads together who do not normally speak to each other, far less work together. This is a good thing. God is speeding up in His providence what mankind is reluctant and slow to learn.
- coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has exposed the poor governance in China, the source of the outbreak being a market in Wuhan with poor hygiene standards, and it has embarrased the Chinese government to an extent that will hopefully implement change in its governance.
- COVID-19 has exposed the folly of Iran’s isolationism and strengthens the public resistance that may yet replace the repressive regime there.
- coronavirus is reducing international flights and will speed up more efficient solutions in the airline industry.
- coronavirus may yet be a catalyst for global change.
- the technical areas in medical research overcome geo-political differences and help to forge international co-operation, rather like American-Russian co-operation with the International Space Station and international sport.
- the international response to coronavirus is a good test case for a more serious global pandemic if one should arise.
- the international chaos from the pandemic should convince nations that ‘germ warfare’ is crazy and could not be controlled. This may cross over into the banality of nuclear warfare and create a new global consensus against military and ethnic conflict.
- coronavirus needs to be defeated all over the world, so that a global effort to improve the health services in third world countries may be a beneficial outcome of the pandemic.
- it shows the importance of national borders as the natural unit for protecting and providing for citizens worldwide. The failure of the EU to look after its own and its sacrosanct mantra about the ‘free movement of people‘ have been shown up. The EU project is in crisis, which is another benefit from the coronavirus.
- every crisis is an opportunity. The NHS came out of World War II, with many other beneficial developments such as the computer.
- coronavirus has exposed that people don’t know what to do when they self-isolate. Coronavirus may help the nations to learn the value of slowing down, benefitting from the Lord’s weekly Sabbath and learning how to use their God-given ‘free time’. The nations will have learned this in the biblical Millennium.
- a national (not universal) basic household income may be the lasting result of the emergency measures being put into place during the crisis. This can only be a benefit arising from the pandemic. If such a measure was already in place, it would reduce the panic created by crises, mental distress, employment uncertainty, panic buying, stockpiling and the shortage of essential supplies. The nation cannot afford to allow households to live on the edge most of the time. Homelessness is an obvious carbuncle on society, but so is household poverty. Coronavirus has exposed and focused attention on this and its solution may be addressed during this crisis. Without this crisis, how long would it take Governments to address it?
- Similarly each government will need to address food security for their nation.
- Similarly, the provision of superfast fibre broadband may speed up. It is the most secure form of modern communication, helping those self-isolating.
- the collapse of Flybe, the latest in a long list of UK corporate failures, has hastened the demise of a failed business model. The UK Government had been asked to prop it up with a £100 million injection in Jan 2020, but the downturn with coronavirus demonstrates that it would have been throwing good money after bad. Of course, coronavirus also serves as a good excuse for top management in various corporations and banks to blame the virus instead of its own failures.
- domestic and regional connectivity in the UK should not depend upon propping up failed businesses. Coronavirus will provoke more imaginative solutions for the future.
- it will teach employees and the public to pay more attention to the mismanagement of companies before they fail. The list of failures is growing in the UK. John Lewis is today’s example moving in the same direction, following the same course of corporate mismanagement.
- coronavirus has exposed the over-inflated self-importance of top managers attempting to manage businesses that are “too big to manage”. Today’s news about Save the Children is simply today’s current case. Examples are reported in the mass media on an almost daily basis.
- businesses are learning to streamline as a result of coronavirus.
- they are speeding up processes for employees to work from home.
- coronavirus has laid bare the fragility and vulnerability of the care sector and the unintended consequences of working mothers being unavailable to look after children and elderly relatives.
- the cash flow problem has been highlighted by coronavirus and the risky behaviour of having poorly-assessed and low reserves. Many household names have disappeared from our High Street through failure to build up reserves. Businesses were persuaded that they must expand and take risks in order to survive in ‘today’s competitive environment’. Instead coronavirus has taught us that this is the route to demise and it may help future businessmen to argue in favour of retaining reserves for ‘the rainy day’. It is similar to banks needing to learn to recapitalise themselves and to ‘stress-test’ themselves against financial shocks on a regular basis. It is called prudent house-keeping, or as a certain Prime Minister who believed in prudent house-keeping said: “You cannot buck the market.”
- there will be increased scientific knowledge from studying a new disease.
- medicine progresses by studying disease.
- the USA stockpiled Ebola-virus vaccine and some are trialling it on coronavirus, but I do not know if there has been any success from this. Similarly other treatments are being rapidly trialled.
- the international race is on to find a vaccine. The difficulty is that coronavirus is among the 200 viruses that causes the common cold, to which we have not yet found a vaccine. The benefit of finding a vaccine to coronavirus might be widespread beyond what we can imagine at present
- on the whole, viruses must be good for us or mankind would not live in such a symbiotic relationship with so many of them.
- the jump of viruses from species to species will focus more attention on the relationship between animal and human health and welfare.
- coronavirus will speed up genetic sequencing, testing, vaccine preparation and global co-operation in human and animal welfare, which can only be a good thing.
- coronavirus is teaching people about their personal vulnerability as well as exposing personal stupidity in human behaviour.
- it is teaching and promoting personal hygiene.
- it may teach individuals to build up savings to withstand a three-month social and societal lockdown and thereby teach the savings habit. It is not only governments and businesses who have been caught out by a cash-flow and a supply-chain crisis, but individual households who have yet to learn how to budget for the future and for downturns.
- community cohesion may improve as people learn to pitch in when the pressure begins to pinch.
- self-isolation may teach people what loneliness feels like to the elderly confined to their home.
- coronavirus is speeding up working from home and online teaching packages, so that ‘working mothers’ can look after children and their elderly relatives once more.
- it teaches people to prioritise their lives.
- those who catch coronavirus early will have an NHS that can cope with the infection, better than those who catch it when the NHS is overwhelmed. I note that Prime Minister Boris Johnson was happy to shake hands when he arrived in the BBC Breakfast studio this morning.
- it should teach thinking people the folly of the evolutionary hypothesis. Mutations are often deleterious.
- it makes people reconsider human behaviour and “what makes us tick”. It highlights and questions human behaviour; see my update comments below.
- irresponsible young people were reminded by the WHO chief that they are not invincible.
- it may teach people to seek the meaning of life at an earlier stage than they would usually do.
- climate change and pandemics remind the nations that we are ‘all in it together’.
- the world is now a global village and is in a position to learn from diseases all over the world for the betterment of human welfare generally.
The Government mantra is: “Hope for the best, and prepare for the worst.” However, it is apparent that multitudes of people do not prepare for the evil day. This is demonstrated by the panic buying of hand sanitiser and toilet paper. If they want to stock up, why did they not do so weeks ago? Because they do not prepare for the worst.
In spite of multitudes of warnings, the only warning that concentrates the mind is impending doom. Hanging concentrates the mind wonderfully. This is why ‘hell-fire preaching’ was so effective in modifying human behaviour and preventing the violence, thieving, lying and general wickedness we witness in our careless risk-taking society where a lost eternity is mocked and not believed – where they fail ‘to prepare for the worst’.
The Bible warns us: ‘Prepare to meet thy God.’Amos 4:12
Thankfully, Jesus Christ has made preparation for us.
Jesus said to His disciples: ‘There is plenty of room in My Father’s house. If it was not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.’
He continued: ‘If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.’John 14:2-3.
This is good news. Jesus has made the way, opened the way and prepared a place in heaven. Will you be among them? Will you trust Him to show you the Way and follow Him?
5 Mar 2020: Tim Stanley, a panellist on BBC Question Time tonight, brought God into the discussion on coronavirus, not as God’s judgment upon mankind but how we should and would respond to the crisis. It is God’s test how we will respond. He put it in the context of theology, presumably Roman Catholic theology. Could he have read this blogpost or this blog about bringing Christianity into public life? Probably not, for Roman Catholic theology is not as hopeful as biblical theology nor this blog.
10 Mar 2020: what can you do about it? Daily Vit D3 helps to reduce the risk of respiratory tract infection, especially in those who are Vit-D deficient. The link in this paragraphs explains the initial management of throat infection.
13 Mar 2020: Those countries with poor health services will demonstrate only too forcefully if herd immunity works, while the economic chaos created in the rest of the world will demonstrate which scientific models have worked. This global trial will test the various socio-economic models around the world.
14 Mar 2020: already the Chinese are helping out the Italians in their distress, while the EU abandons Italy. The eurozone crisis leads to the Italians hoping the Chinese will buy their bonds. The Italians are singing to boost their spirits and build community cohesion. The US is starting ‘to look like Italy’. How did Italy become Europe’s epicentre when it was the first to implement a travel ban?
16 Mar 2020: Italian and Spanish solidarity with their healthcare workers.
16 Mar 2020: Tim Stanley, see 5 Mar 2020 above, returned to his theme in his column in today’s Daily Telegraph. His argument amounts to: coronavirus will demonstrate that Christians are “constitutionally obliged to be nice to you”, so “this is why you should join a church even if you don’t 100 per cent believe in God.” Atheists and others will have little difficulty knocking down this polemic, although he tries to fend them off with “atheists might scoff at praying to saints for help … but … the consolation of faith is a powerful medicine”. Although Stanley was raised a Baptist, became an Anglican and then a Roman Catholic, he has still to learn how to defend the Christian faith. Indeed, this is why Romanism lost the arguments of the 16th-century Protestant Reformation, why it is still losing the argument in the abortion debate both in the UK and the USA, and why it does not and will not persuade multitudes in the present time. It loses arguments, but Stanley thinks the milk of human kindness will make up for this.
The G20 and the USA
The Leader in the same newspaper asks: “who is to provide such global leadership? The international institutions like the G20 are there for such an eventuality yet have failed. The United States, the one [sic] country that in the past has offered world leadership, has a president who is singularly ill-suited to such a role.”
What about UK leadership in WWII and in the 2008 financial crisis, both within living memory? Leaving this tendentious oversight aside, 1. is it not that same president who has complained about the ineffectiveness of the G20 and tried to provoke both it and NATO to take more responsibility for their role in the world? 2. is it not the mockery of Republican Presidents by the western world that has led to that president’s disdain in treating them with their own medicine? 3. is it not this same nation that has been accused of being the world’s policeman with the policy of interventionism? 4. is it not this same nation that stepped back during the African Spring and the Syrian civil war because of these complaints? 5. how predictable is it to hear the cry “Where are the Americans?” whenever there is catastrophe? Rather, where is the economic might of the Chinese, Saudi Arabians and Arab states? These questions never arise for very good reasons. If the world suffers because it has miscalled the hand that feeds it, it has itself to blame. It is little wonder that Donald Trump ignores those who cannot be pleased whatever position one adopts. Grievance politics is not confined to the Scottish National Party but it is native to the human condition and manifests itself in international politics.
Meanwhile, the American Federal Reserve has ridden to the global rescue by buying $500bn of US Government debt in order to make US Dollars available to the world market to provide dollar liquidity to the banks around the world, including the Bank of England, which Andrew Bailey in his first day as the new Governor of the Bank of England acknowledged with thanks will help inter-bank lending, which dried up in 2008 and exacerbated the financial crash at that time. This was the Federal Reserve’s largest intervention since the 2008 crisis. Thanks to the Americans. No thanks to the editorial in the Daily Telegraph and to the nauseating anti-Americanism in the UK.
Such unthankfulness is a reminder to Christians not to expect thanks from this ungrateful world but to serve their God and the Lord Jesus Christ Who will gratefully and thankfully acknowledge their service in due course. The ungodly world is a poor master to serve.
17 Mar 2020: Emily Thornbury joined in Trump-bashing. Coronavirus demonstrates that even the distress of these anxious times, some people cannot avoid making political points if they think it helps them.
17 Mar 2020: Coronavirus is making many people question their priorities and Emily Maitlis in BBC Newsnight tonight asked more searching questions than one usually hears in political debate. She chose the former chief rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks as the sage who may answer her question about the goodness of human nature in the light of personal selfishness demonstrated in the stockpiling of food and essential supplies. Expressing his dismay at the personal self-interest in stockpiling behaviour, Sacks asserted: “The goodness of people has not surprised me at all because out of crisis human nature always tends to goodness, to help.” Really? Maitlis probed: “100 years ago there was a sense of being God-fearing. Now we are majority atheist. I wonder where that sense of duty comes from if it is not a fear of God.” Sacks answered: “This is the nearest we have to a revelation, even to atheists. Here we suddenly see our vulnerability. … all of a sudden we are facing the fragility and vulnerability of the human situation and at the end of the day, even without a faith in God, we have to say either we work together and survive or we work separately and perish.” He explained the revelation as “the inescapably interlinked nature of our humanity.” God is excluded from this explanation and it simply amounts to collective self-interest. “We are all in it together” is true, but it explains motive and duty in secular terms. Sacks had no contribution to make on the role far less the necessity and utility of being ‘God-fearing’. Duty was explained simply as collective self-interest, and accountability to God was overlooked.
20 Mar 2020: riding the coronavirus downturn.
23 Mar 2020: after speaking with former chief rabbi on 17 March, see above, Emily Maitliss turned to the former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams. She asked him about trials. The obvious Bible text to quote and explain was 1Pe 1:7 but he came nowhere near the Gospel in his discussion and simply philosophised instead to no effect.
25 Mar 2020: the Bible teaches us not to be presumptuous and to say “God willing” about future plans. The coronavirus has taught the Secretary of State for Scotland Alister Jack more caution when he responded to a question in the House of Commons and said that he hoped that COP26 would take place in November 2020 in Glasgow “COVID-19 willing”. [God was not willing and on 1 Apr 2020 COP26 was postponed till 2021.]
25 Mar 2020: there are some Christians who still believe that God’s control of all providence and who supply lessons for today. Others are not so sure that they have anything to say: “reassuring words were hard to come by … The wisest of us has nothing to offer but his own interpretation of world events“.
27 Mar 2020: Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Health Secretary have tested positive with coronavirus, and the Chief Medical Advisor is self-isolating with symptoms. It struck Prince Charles on 25 Mar 2020 reminding us that “God is no respecter of persons”, if only the nation would learn this learn from Christians in public life. Instead the lesson was that “we are all in this together”. Collective myopia and collective silence from Christians in public life.
28 Mar 2020: a poem doing the rounds:
They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise
You can hear the birds again.
They say that after just a few weeks of quiet
The sky is no longer thick with fumes
But blue and grey and clear.
30 Mar 2020: Italy, Spain and Portugal being cold-shouldered by the EU and France’s President Macron claims the EU is in danger of losing legitimacy. The pandemic is exposing the ineffectiveness of the EU.
30 Mar 2020: industry, universities, doctors and health care engineers are partnering to come up with new solutions. UCL (University College London) partnered with Mercedes Formula 1 (no less!) whose specialism in speed can produce newly adapted CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machines at a rate of 1000/day. The pandemic in Italy has demonstrated that CPAP is an early intervention reducing the number of respiratory patients going into intensive care, where they need sedation in order to be linked to ventilators. Necessity is the mother of invention and a former device was modified and tested within a week. So the coronavirus pandemic will help respiratory patients for decades to come. People are reflecting positively upon “the human ability to solve problems together“.
30 Mar 2020: social isolation is improving neighbourly community interaction.
31 Mar 2020: the different models to deal with the pandemic will show up the folly of various politicians and the pride and hubris of scientific advisers, reminding us that theories and models will get tested in due course. Authority figures are not enough.
1 Apr 2020: the fake news and lies that are so prevalent has now contributed to false information about protection and ‘cures’ of COVID-19. Government now has to deal with how to detect fake news, which can only be a good thing. Prior to the pandemic, there was no attempt to expose lies and teach people to identify truth. This is another benefit from the pandemic. The education curriculum might begin to teach schoolchildren not to lie nor to steal. This would improve the productivity of any nation.
1 Apr 2020: global interdependence has demonstrated the tenuous nature of the world’s supply-chains. Either nations will learn to co-operate more or they will develop shorter and more secure supply lines. It is time to reassess whether human beings need to travel across the globe three times a week, month or year. Do we not have enough to do at home? Foreign mission has usually attracted more glamour than home mission.
1 Apr 2020: more inventiveness has adapted underwater masks with 3-D printed valves able to be produced all over the world. Italy suggested both this simple solution and the CPAP solution; see 30 Mar above. This will be a significant and lasting benefit from COVID-19 for a long time to come.
9 Apr 2020: BBC Question Time discussed the criteria for periodic lockdowns until a vaccine is developed. This reminds us of another benefit from the coronavirus pandemic: learning to periodically slow down on the Sabbath ‘rest day’ or holiday. Businesses could learn to turn themselves off once a week and people could learn to go to church, worship God and contemplate the important things in life.
13 Apr 2020: the inevitable necessity of the first world helping the third world in and through the coronavirus pandemic should help to engender a sense of global community and hopefully global gratitude to counteract the grievance politics which is enflaming so many societies around the world.
15 Apr 2020: the UK Health Secretary Mat Hancock has signalled a new approach and assessment of the care sector. A crisis speeds up solutions which would normally take a decade or more to implement.
22 Apr 2020: with more attention being paid to the mental health issues arising from the coronavirus pandemic lockdown, the development of online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can only help for the future.
28 Apr 2020: a new benefit is free Government-sponsored online educational skills courses. Continuous professional development (CPD) should be in everyone’s repertoire and this adds to the regular use of Wikipedia to improve one’s knowledge and utility to others in this world.
30 Apr 2020: another benefit is that it illustrates the importance of preaching the Gospel. At today’s daily briefing on the coronavirus pandemic lockdown, First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon pointed out that she must try to persuade the public to believe her in order to comply with the lockdown measures and it is her duty to give the reasons for doing so: “it is really important that I explain these.” She also said: “I am an eternal optimist.”
Eternal optimism can be held only by those who believe in eternity and who have a good hope for eternity. The apostle Paul gave similar reasons for preaching the Christian Gospel, in other words, its importance and relevance for the eternal world, “the world to come, whereof we speak” Heb 2:5:–
“Knowing therefore the fear of the Lord, we persuade men, and I trust also we are made manifest in your consciences.”2Cor 5:11
2 May 2020: the coronavirus pandemic lockdown may reduce poachers’ activities and allow rare animal stocks to recover.