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Turning To God Amidst This Crisis

To The Reader’s Forum:

During this Covid crisis, someone posted on Facebook:

“Satan: ‘I will cause anxiety, fear and panic. I will shut down business, schools, places of worship, and sports events. I will cause economic turmoil.’

Jesus: ‘I will bring together neighbors, restore the family unit, I will bring dinner back to the kitchen table… I will teach my children to rely on me and not the world. I will teach my children to trust me and not their money and material sources.'”

It’s attributed to CS Lewis in 1942 when he penned the Screwtape Letters. The attribution is wrong. It’s not found in the Screwtape Letters. Lewis never said it and it doesn’t even sound like him.

During the dreaded dawning of the atomic age, CS Lewis in 1948 did, in fact, write:

“In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb.’How are we to live in an atomic age?’ I am tempted to reply: ‘Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or… as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, …[and] an age of motor accidents.’

In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me… you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways… It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces… [in] a world which… death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty. This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together… doing sensible and human things–praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, [exercising], chatting to our friends… not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.”

Those words written 72 years ago presciently speak to us today. Addressing that moribund moment, Lewis had to be grounded in something larger than humanity in order to make his humanizing words sensible, purposeful and defensible. If nothing but death awaits humanity, the reason for living rots. So, Lewis banked on Christ, saying,” The New Testament writers speak as if Christ’s achievement in rising from the dead was the first event of its kind in the whole history of the universe. He is the “first fruits“, the “pioneer of life“. He has forced open a door that has been locked since the death of the first man. He has met, fought, and beaten the King of Death. Everything is different because He has done so. Local pastor, Wayne Eppehimer, reflected, “It will be a different Easter this year due to retirement and due to CV-19. But the celebration of the empty tomb is still real!” It’s not fake history, but historical fact.

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Amid this viral blowup, a bright 20-something in Generation Z brims with hope, writing: “Coronavirus, whether you consider it a threat or not, has utterly changed the world as we know it… The world’s general response to this epidemic reveals a universal truth… We all share a universal feeling concerning death. That universal feeling is fear. Simply put, no one wants to die, yet we all know that we will. As a matter of fact, it’s the one and only experience other than birth that we all share. Admittedly, I have many fears about dying…Now those fears, while very real for me, are fortunately not the end of my thoughts concerning death. Beyond those fears lies an even greater feeling for me… hope.

I do not believe the life we are currently living is the end of the road for us. Honestly, the concept of death being a hard stop, followed by vast cold nothingness has always been utterly inconceivable for me.

Some may see this as a delusion or superstition, or maybe even blind faith… You’re allowed to think, or even tell me here that I’m crazy…but I know I’m not the only one with that feeling of “bitter-sweet” anxiety about death.

Where I stand, I believe that through my faith in Christ, everlasting life awaits me when my time here on earth comes to an end. And though I’m sometimes tempted to think I haven’t achieved all that I could with the life I’ve been given here, I ultimately find my peace in the truth that when I die, I am eternally secure in the arms of my Savior.

Jesus gave 33 human years living on this earth, and in that time, He died for all who are willing to come to Him and believe He is God. And if I needed some time to come to terms with that, I’ve had 22 years to do so.

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‘O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ 1 Corinthians 15:55.” Like a good meme states, “They predicted that this was going to be a rough week for America. It was a rough week for Jesus too, but just look at the outcome.” As different as life is right now, the greatest difference remains anchored in Christ’s victory over the “King of Death.”

By The Rev. Mel McGinnis

Pastor, Kiantone Congregational Church

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