Musings on the Pandemic, the Endemic, and Vaccinations
Aligning to God’s Perspective and Responding unto Preparedness
by Sarah Ng
I joined an online conversation earlier this month on how to navigate through the current COVID situation we find ourselves in, specifically from a biblical perspective. Entitled “Pandemic. Endemic. Vaccinations. — a Biblical Examination unto Preparedness”, it was a timely conversation that addressed my searching questions and put me back on track to focus on what God wants to teach us through everything that is happening.
We are into our third year of the pandemic. What started out as a voluntary call to take the vaccination against the COVID-19 virus has evolved into one that now seems pseudo-mandatory — if we want to keep our jobs and go to the mall to sit down and eat our favourite Singapore chicken curry.
February 14, which has come and gone, was also the deadline for some to get boosted in order to keep those otters on their TraceTogether Apps. Indeed, this year’s Valentine’s Day was about more than just flowers and love.
Compared to where we were before COVID, much has happened and new norms have now set in. It seems like there is a light at the end of the tunnel with the high local vaccination rates and the Omicron variant making its rounds within our population.
However, being human, questions nevertheless flooded my mind and caused my heart to tremble — What’s after this booster jab? Still more booster jabs like what Israel is doing? Where is all of this heading? How do we as believers navigate and also help others in a time such as this?
I confess that we, even as believers, are so prone to “major on the minor” and be derailed from the main focus of what God is trying to teach us.
Finding Biblical Answers to Searching Questions
In the midst of the conversation and the wrestling with how God wants us to approach this, I learnt anew how to approach complex and controversial issues from a biblical perspective and apply timeless biblical principles to various situations.
We were exhorted to read Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 10 to glean biblical principles that can be applied to the issue of vaccination. As this is not an issue of salvation or even a fundamental doctrinal issue, we are to respect one another’s personal convictions and whatever we do or say, the focus is on building one another up in love.
Here are the main take-home points that greatly helped me to see things from God’s perspective:
1. Don’t Miss the Big Picture of God
Whichever vaccine we take, or even if we choose not to take the vaccine at all — this is not the main issue.
“Wait, what?” you might say. “Well, what then is the main issue?”
If we take a step back to see the bigger picture of God, this pandemic and the subsequent vaccination issue are vessels that God is using to get our attention. This pandemic is actually a “tutorial” to awaken and prepare us for greater storms to come.
True, we all need to answer these questions for ourselves: “To jab or not to jab?” “Pfizer, Moderna or Sinopharm?” etc. However, in this particular situation, to each his own based on our individual convictions as we each seek the Lord and apply the Rom. 14 and 1 Cor. 10 principle.
Instead, God, who is zealous for our fullness, wants us to take heed of what, to Him, are the more pressing issues:
- The condition of our hearts (Rev. 3:14–22);
- Living with a sense of urgency to redeem the times (Eph. 5:15–16);
- Knowing with clarity where human history is heading (Matt. 24, Mk. 13, Lk. 21, Ps. 2, Isa. 19).
The God who sits enthroned above all has allowed this pandemic to reveal what’s in our hearts — through whether we responded in fear, paranoia and suspicion or whether we arose in faith, engaged His heart, and trusted in His leadership over our lives.
He wants us to listen to our own heart responses, and should we realise that they fall more into the fear than faith category, He calls us turn to Him, without condemnation, even in the midst of the fear to find strength as we abide in Him.
Through this pandemic, God is also awakening His people to the urgency of the times and seasons we are living in. (I am reminded of this article on what He is emphasizing for the 2020s.) God is trumpeting to us where all this is heading. Where human history is going is clearly laid out in Scripture and unfolding before our eyes.
The revelation of our hearts. The stirring of urgency. The unravelling of times and seasons. May we not react in haste but pause and engage our hearts with God to hear with clarity what He is emphasizing to us.
2. Use the Waves to Work for Our Good
God desires us to awaken and respond in preparation for what is to come. His Word gives us the handles how to overcome and navigate in the journey ahead. The waves of the pandemic have swept us left, right and centre. Instead of just rolling over and giving in with a come-what-may outlook, we can instead let the waves of this storm push us towards leaning in to God and His Word.
If we see that we have not done this, let’s press the delete button on our failings and forge ahead with our God who is at our head!
Three key areas were shared through the conversation for us to intentionally cultivate in our lives. These are God’s answers that will prepare us for the time ahead:
Confidence in God — in His voice, Word, leadership and love. If the vaccine is truly an issue of the eternal salvation of our souls, God will not be silent. He knows how to speak to His people for He is our Compassionate Father full of lovingkindness and mercy. Thus, we need to have that confidence that He is able to lead and speak to us.
Clarity of God’s narrative — His narrative is the whole storyline of the Bible as well as what God is emphasizing and unfolding in the present times we are living in. The central theme in God’s redemption storyline is not just to save us from hell’s fire but unto a life that is victorious both now and in eternity. It’s also about growing into a people who fully love Him, fully understand Him and align completely to His story.
The Prophetic Spirit — that of wisdom, discernment and sensitivity to His Spirit. Wisdom is to have the mind of Christ and to think like Him. Discernment comes with exercising our spiritual senses that comes from having wrestled with God’s Word. Most of all, there is an urgency to cultivate sensitivity to the Holy Spirit who desires to give us His divine instructions and empowerment to overcome in the days ahead. He is our personal Mentor and Guide into God’s truths and ways! (1 Cor. 2:16; Heb. 5:13–14; Gal. 5:16,18,25)
It is an understatement to say that we are now sailing in unchartered waters with many uncertainties and unprecedented happenings, both in the positives and negatives (Isa.60:1–2). Yet as things do not get better, we can grow stronger, burn hotter and shine brighter as the people of God.
Will we respond to prepare so that we will become a seaworthy battleship in the face of the storms of darkness that are encroaching the earth like never before? God is able to use the waves of this storm to fashion us into His voices to shine forth with wisdom, power and love if we respond and seek Him.
3. Soar Above the Storms
God has given us His counsel and grace to navigate the road ahead. Here are three heart postures to adopt now so that we will be able to soar above the greater storms to come:
Seek God and learn to trust Him in everything (Prov. 3:5–6). This will be crucial to build up our confidence and trust in Him for the days to come. Engage His heart for He loves us deeply, has the answers and is more than able to lead us.
Renew our minds with God’s narrative (Rom. 12:2) instead of holding on to worldly narratives.
Seek to continually align with God and to do His will (Matt. 6:33). Continually align our perspective with God, persevere in walking in agreement with Him, and respond by doing His will.
This final exhortation at the end of the conversation summed up the urgent call to respond to the Lord in this time: live by faith, walk in love and stand in God’s truth!
May we journey with our communities to go deeper into God’s heart and spur one another on to apply God’s ways in our lives!