"Please don't say that." I do not want to hear anyone say COVID-19 is the end of the world. Yes, I know we have had locust swarms of "biblical proportions" in Africa. There are droughts across the world and floods close to home. There was even an earthquake in Utah. In response some are tempted to say this virus is the final act and is the sign of end of the world.
I have heard this before. At the height of the AIDS epidemic, after Hurricane Katrina, preachers dared to say the same thing. After the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, we thought it was the end. Preachers said it was God's punishment. Today whispers of these kinds of prophecies of doom again creep onto the edges of my Facebook feed and in the press. But it was not the end of the world then. So do not even say that now.
I understand some want to understand “why” this has happening. I understand we are anxious and frightened. We are doing our best to figure out how to care for those who are vulnerable, to care for ourselves and our families. Life is changing, but do not tell me it is the end of the world.
In contrast to those proclamations filled with fear and worry Jesus said, "But the exact day and hour? No one knows that, not even heaven’s angels, not even the Son. Only the Father. So keep a sharp lookout, for you don’t know the timetable." (Mark 13.33) Only God knows that timing, not anyone on earth, even the most respected, or "devoted" preacher.
Jesus said, "Don't look for the signs. Instead be prepared." He wants us to live as if the end is near all the time. Why would he say that? I think he said it because he wanted to create a community in which people valued life. The kind of community that values life will care for people instinctively. You and I have spent our lives trying to follow the teachings of Jesus; now we choose to continue living in a way that values people—even if we have to do this at a distance.
We may feel the need to make sense of COVID-19 and the dramatic changes it has brought to our world. But probably the best we can do at the moment is to do what needs to be done today. We can rise, trust God for today, and care for each other. Let God take care of tomorrow. And may, instead of the end, something new will be born.