Living in the Body of Christ Through COVID-19
It seemed inevitable that the pandemic would change my dreams for 2020; little did I know, or see, what God had in store
I can still remember the plans I had made for this year. Come this month (November), my cousin and I had planned to visit a friend in South America, after which Christmas would come upon us, and it would then be more festivities before ringing in 2021.
Then COVID-19 came along and by April, this invisible enemy had descended upon our shores. Surgical masks, working from home and online shopping became “normal,” and my vocabulary had to accommodate new words like Zoom, social distancing and “new normal.”
My parents and I gradually became better acquainted with the walls and rooms of our five-room apartment. Going outside was taboo and home became the new office as we all began to work from home.
Church services turned online and I had to get used to live streaming and online chats with emojis instead of physical handshakes and hugs at church. I wondered if normalcy would ever return.
Opened spiritual eyes
Until the LORD showed me how He was using the pandemic to open my eyes to see Him in a new and fresh way. Thinking that Facebook was a poor substitute for the conversations we had at church, I soon saw how people opened up to others on social media about their fears and anxieties.
As people did various activities to preserve their health and sanity and posted them on Facebook or Instagram, I began working out regularly and then transitioned to long morning walks accompanied by short videos of encouragement.
People shared how my actions motivated them to take their health more seriously. I soon made new Facebook friends and began praying for them online too!
Rather than moan, I learnt to bloom where I was planted. Paul’s admonition to be content in every situation became more real every day.
Rather than close church, COVID-19 brought church closer to my doorstep as I saw “brothers” and “sisters” in the community around us. Neighbours who used to be indifferent started to take note of one another, and we started greeting one another and calling one another “brother” and “sister” too!
Some friendships were made and still remain to this day, and occasionally I would go on my walks, only to be accompanied by one of my “brothers” or “sisters” too!
These new friendships were the source of much-needed encouragement and support when I was later laid off in September, and also rejoiced with me when I was able to get a six-month contract position this month.
As we soon look likely to return to some semblance of a pre-COVID-19 lifestyle by the end of the year, this invisible enemy has brought us closer together instead of further apart.
As we relied on our community spirit to get us through the crisis, the pandemic showed me how life was to be lived — as members of a village instead of individuals on our personal islands!
As I shared my experiences on Facebook and met new friends, I understood how God had led me to understand that His idea of family extended to other “brothers” and “sisters” I had not even met but was responsible for just the same!
I am grateful for being able to eat out and meet friends again, as well as join in the gathering of the brethren at church. But the experiences and revelation that the LORD shared with me during the Circuit Breaker and Phase One periods (the early months from April to June, when lock-downs and tighter restrictions were in place in Singapore to prevent and limit the spread of the virus) is a gift that I will never forget as I learnt to see and lovingly serve Jesus Christ in every person who crossed my path, online or otherwise.
‘‘ For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me… Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers] you did it to me.’’
(Matthew 25: 35–36, 40, ESV)
‘‘For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.’’ (Jeremiah 29:11, ESV)