"Doing Good" to All People
by David Riley, Elder
If you are like me, you have received dozens of communications about COVID-19 during the last couple of months. The usefulness of much of the information we read is questionable. Some is clearly false, dangerous, or unhelpful. As a physician, I have tried to distill for you the main factual points of many of these documents. Realistically, however, some seemingly simple concepts can be very difficult to put into practice.
One of the main goals of staying at home is to keep people who are contaminated or infected away from those who are not. We also need to make sure that we do not contaminate or be contaminated by the environment around us. Unlike a stationary sterile surgical site, we are dealing with active sites. Solid objects and surfaces are potentially contaminated. So is the air around us. And, what is safe one minute may be deadly moments later.
A simple trip to the store presents many opportunities for contamination. The items you touch may have been contaminated by another customer or the employees. When you pay for your items with cash, the cash you give and the change you receive may be contaminated. Even the air around you may be contaminated.
Before going to the store, ask yourself these questions:
- How urgent or necessary is this trip?
- Am I maintaining a minimum of 6 feet from people around me?
- Are the door handles and other surfaces appropriately cleaned between customers?
You might choose to wear gloves. Discard them when you leave the store. Appropriately disinfect all objects when you bring them home or allow them to sit for two days before touching them. Two days is an estimate of the time required for the virus to die when it is on a surface.
Remember that the air around you may have been contaminated by a customer or employee carrying the virus. Even a 6 to10 foot buffer between you and anyone you see does not protect you from breathing the air of someone who walked in that same space a few minutes earlier.
The recent Skagit Valley Chorale rehearsal illustrates the point. The participants seem to have maintained distance, washed hands, and followed other recommendations. Still, approximately 75% of the group was infected during one practice session. This virus is apparently extremely infectious.
What does the virus look like? If you could see it, it might look like the dust particles you see in the air when the sun shines into your house. You can see how difficult it would be to avoid viral particles if they surrounded you in a similar way. You would need an airtight breathing apparatus and a proper gown.
It is difficult being restricted for a few weeks during the coronavirus problem. It could be worse. Consider that in World War II, young teenager Anne Frank and six others hid from the Nazis for about two years. They were confined to a small attic room in the Netherlands during this time.
My advice is that you stay home as much as possible. Walk outdoors but stay 6-10 feet away from others. The wind is good. Avoid rebreathing air in closed in areas. Avoid congregating with people other than those you live with. Carry and use disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer, and latex gloves. For many of us, this virus will only be a minor nuisance. But we may get sick and we may die if exposed. Even worse, if we carry the virus, we could expose others. See this as an application of Galatians 6:10: "So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith."
When will this go away? No one knows. Historically, epidemics such as polio, measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, and pertussis did not subside until an effective vaccine was developed. In the case of COVID-19, that may be a year or more away. Currently, there is no specific medical treatment, only supportive measures. We will need to decide collectively what is most important: physical health or the world economy.
What does the Bible say about occurrences like the present?
God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change
And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea….
Though the fig tree should not blossom
And there be no fruit on the vines,
Though yield of the olive should fail
And the fields produce no food,
Though the flock should be cut off from the fold
And there be no cattle in the stalls,
Yet I will exult in the LORD,
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
The words of Charles Spurgeon are helpful in this time: “I believe that every particle of dust that dances in the sunbeam does not move an atom more or less than God wishes – that every particle of spray that dashes against the steamboat has its orbit, as well as the sun in the heavens – that the chaff from the hand of the winnower is steered as the stars in their courses. The creeping of an aphid over the rosebud is as much fixed as the march of the devastating pestilence – the fall of . . . leaves from a poplar is as fully ordained as the tumbling of an avalanche.”
In summary, we are living in unprecedented times. The world has no playbook for how to deal with current events. However, none of these things has caught our God by surprise. No matter how dire the situation looks, the outcome is ultimately to our good and His glory.