This article was published on the Third Space website – why not check it out? Here
Emma: Dad, can I ask you about coronavirus? Is it dangerous? Why is everyone so scared? Why is there no toilet paper in the shops?
Dad: Listen sweetheart, you don’t need to be worried. But it’s great you asked – because I think there are a lot of things on social media that are not helping! Sometimes it does feel as though the world is going mad! Imagine people fighting over toilet paper – by the way have you checked our supplies?! Only kidding!
Emma: But what is it? Is it Chinese? One of my friends said they developed it as a weapon to get rid of old people?
Dad: Wow – slow down! That’s exactly what I’m saying. Don’t believe everything you see on the Internet. I’ve been reading up on this….first of all there is isn’t just one coronavirus and its not new.
Emma: You mean there’s more than one?!
Dad: Yes – coronavirus is a name that’s used for a large family of virus’s found in many animals and humans. This latest one was first discovered in the Chinese city of Wuhan and is now know as Covid-19. There was great concern about SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) – a similar virus that has been around for about 20 years. It’s what we call a respiratory disease.
Emma: So – it’s like a really bad flu…? But I thought it killed people.
Dad: It does. But so does the normal flu – hundreds of thousands of people die every year from normal flu. The normal flu death rate is around 1% – the Covid 19 rate is around 3%. That’s bad but so far it appears to be mainly the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions who are most at danger. So your Granny would be in more serious trouble than you. For most people it would just be like a severe cold.
Emma: Still – I don’t want to get it. So how do I avoid it? My friends say we shouldn’t go to Chinese restaurants, or church, or school. Can I get time of school? I mean some people got time of school to save the world – so surely I can get some time off to save myself.
Dad: Nice try! No chance. There have only been around 50 cases in the whole of Australia. The chances of you getting it are very slim. But even if it does become more widespread there are some sensible precautions you can take. Make sure you wash your hands thoroughly – use a sanitizer (we’ve got a couple in)…before and after every meal and when you have been in public places. As for not going to Chinese restaurants – does that mean you won’t be joining us this Saturday? Do you not think it’s a bit racist to think that just because the virus originated in China that all Chinese people are to blame? It’s not exactly fair on the ABC’s Australian Born Chinese) is it? I know of several Chinese restaurants that have already gone out of business. Maybe the Christian thing to do would be to go to Chinese restaurants, more not less!
Emma: I like that solution!
Dad: Listen pet, I know there has been a lot of media about this. But try not to believe everything you read in the media. There is good news. Already some scientists have mapped out the complete genetic sequence of the coronavirus. Years ago that would have taken years – but now it can be done in days. This means that they are now able to work on a vaccine. And remember there are greater dangers.
Emma: What do you mean? What dangers?
Dad: Well, sometimes I think that the fear of coronavirus is as bad as the virus itself. It’s what they call social contagion. People hear about it all the time and so it gets embedded in our subconscious and we start believing and acting as though the whole world was at risk of dying immediately! Instead of just reacting to what we hear and see – we need to think! You are a smart girl….learn to question – especially your own feelings. And don’t just follow the crowd – or you could end up fighting about toilet roll!
Emma: Any other dangers?
Dad: Just the usual ones. I read something really interesting from a friend of mine on FB yesterday (it does have its uses!). He is a scientist working on TB – and he said that 1.6 million people die of TB every year. He also shared this information. On the 10th Feb 108 people died of coronavirus. But 26,283 people died of cancer, 24,641 people died of heart disease, 4,300 people died of diabetes, 3,024 died of suicide. Mosquitoes kill on average 2,740 people per day, humans kill 1,300 of their fellow humans every day and snakes kill 137 humans every day. The point is that more people have died from snakebite this year than from coronavirus – do you lie in bed at night worrying about being bitten by snakes? I hope not…
Emma: Ok – I get the point. But this just feels different. It feels more serious. And to be honest I am a wee bit scared.
Dad: I understand. But when we are scared who do we go to to take away our fears?
Emma: I hope you’re not going to start preaching at me!
Dad: Don’t worry you’re not going to get a sermon! But remember that all the time you are receiving messages and my concern is that these are messages of fear – not of hope. Christ is more powerful than the coronavirus…he tells us to cast all our cares on him because he cares for us…so let’s do that. But can I just suggest one really important thing to you?
Emma: Ok – go ahead. Apart from washing my hands…not panicking and praying – what else do you suggest?
Dad: Think about this. Coronavirus may grow from the 0.0001% of people to a much larger percentage. But only 3% of those infected will die. But there is a virus that we are all born with, which we cannot get rid of and which results in the most provable of all facts – 100% of us die! It’s so hard for us to grasp that. I think my favourite verse in the Bible is Ecclesiastes 3:10-11 “I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” We are aware of eternity yet we know we are going to die. We long for beauty – in a world that is full of ugliness! And we can’t save ourselves.
Emma: But Dad – that seems such a hard message. Such a horrible one. I thought the Gospel meant good news!
Dad: It does. But think of it like this. No one would take the antidote to the coronavirus if they did not believe it existed – or did not think they were sick. The Bible explains the world as it is – not as Disney imagine it! It’s a sick and broken place. But the good news is that there is an antidote. That’s why Jesus came. He came to deal with sin and death. “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death – that is the devil – and free those who all their lives are held in slavery by their fear of death” (Hebrews 3:14-15). It’s wonderful that although this virus of sin exists – we have been given the antidote. That’s why we tell people the Good News!
Do you remember that Jesus tells us that we are not to worry because not even a hair from our head can fall without our Heavenly Father knowing? And Peter tells us not fear like others. Seek Christ’s kingdom first and the rest will fall into place. Sorry that was so long – but it’s so important and I tell you this because I love you! Listen pet; let’s leave it there.
Emma: Thanks Dad….now about that Chinese?!