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Home  >  Features  >  The Coronavirus Diaries: Inconvenience or a Wake-up Call?


The Coronavirus Diaries: Inconvenience or a Wake-up Call?

Wednesday September 23 2020

The Rev Lydia Neshangwe is minister of the Uniting Presbyterian Church of Southern Africa’s St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, which is twinned with Lyle Kirk in Greenock.

Said a church worker somewhere in the world at the beginning of the coronavirus season: “This coronavirus is such an inconvenience - we can’t plan, we can’t implement our previous plans, we can’t forecast. There is too much uncertainty to even do our annual strategic planning.”

What a big inconvenience this virus was turning out to be. My response was, “True, it’s an inconvenience, but do you realise that the majority of the world lives in this type of inconvenience for life.”

For the majority of the world the situation of no jobs, no political stability, no insurances, no predictable measures, no certainty, no social safety nets, is a way of life. This is why the coronavirus pandemic has been labelled the Great Revealer. It has simply revealed the already existing pandemics around us – the pandemic of poverty, the pandemic of racism, the pandemic of political disorder, and the pandemic of social decay.

Where one person is experiencing coronavirus as an inconvenience to their work, others have no work to talk of. Planning is just a dream for them because they have no resources for which to plan with or for. Implementing of any dreams is senseless because they are powerless over their own decisions. Forecasting is reduced to just dreaming because the contextual reality on the ground destroys any opportunities to forecast. As for strategic planning – what’s that?

One person’s seasonal inconvenience is another person’s life experience. One person’s part-time irritation is another person’s full time wound. While some are waiting for the virus to be over so they can get back to normal, others have no normal to look forward to. While some are looking forward to a ‘new normal’ others see the ‘old normal’ and ‘new normal’ as just presenting different forms of suffering for them.

Even lower down the social scales of the world are women and children who are living through this ‘inconvenient’ condition for life – many with no say over their own bodies, no protection from violence, no control over their own destinies, no choices, and no opportunities.

The coronavirus season is a time to reflect on this reality so that when we feel irritated or annoyed by its impact on our lives, on our work, on our reduced finances, then we also reflect on those for whom these irritations and annoyances are a way of life. May we then sense God’s calling to do our part to make life bearable for those others because our humanity is ultimately interconnected.

In my community alone, in Zimbabwe, there have been multiple responses to God’s call to make life bearable for others. And these efforts are by the ordinary people assisting other ordinary people. We have seen food aid initiatives rise up, increased orphan care and widow care, and a special reaching out to the elderly, and mask making in the communities. Values of the Kingdom of God are actively present at this difficult time: values of non-judgemental compassion, humble generosity, unmeasured grace, genuine love, and increased prayer.

In other communities all over the world, the same has been happening. The prayer is that these Kingdom of God responses would continue even after the pandemic, so that they may become habitual rather than once-off.  May God’s Kingdom come and our own kingdoms go.

The Coronavirus Diaries: reflections from Church of Scotland partners around the world

Sri Lanka: Service is the Highest Form of Worship
USA: Testing Positive
Portugal: The Mission of the Church Has Not Changed
World Council of Churches: A New Dawn is Upon us
Hungary: Physically Distant but Close in Spirit
A German in Scotland: Something New Has Already Begun
Myanmar: We Will Overcome this Hardship
Ghana: This Too Shall Pass
Brazil: The Least We Can Do
Kenya: Caring for One Another in Christ
An Indian in Germany: A Time of Enrichment
Argentina: Time in Between
Malawi: 'My identity in Christ remains unchanged'
Jerusalem: Being Rather than Doing
Malawi: No Lockdown and an Election
Zambia: 'I will never leave you... or forsake you'
Czech Republic: The Covid Cover-up
Zambia: 'All Life is Sacred'
Israel/Palestine: 'The Air is Clear'
Nepal: 'Please Pray for Us'
Malawi: Tough Dilemmas
Italy: 'Together, We Will Get Through It'