Paul Luckraft asks how we “measure” the impacts of disease and life threatening situations. Do we focus in the right areas? What might God be saying to us?
In these days of Covid fear and pandemic panic we are currently watching certain numbers very carefully. How is the R rate doing? Is the number of tests meeting its target? Are hospital admissions and deaths due to Coronavirus trending up or down? And, above all, will the daily updates of such figures offer a ray of hope, or keep us locked down for longer?
Some of the figures have shocked us especially as we build up the worldwide picture. Currently there are over 5.4 million Coronavirus cases across all countries with 344,000 deaths.1And those are only the ones known about and recorded. Of course, as we are constantly reminded, cold statistics do not do justice to the horrors and grief caused by such suffering, and my comments in this piece should not be read without sorrow in the heart and tears in the eyes. But in a world of 7.8 billion people, and still rising at nearly 90 million per year, how do these Coronavirus figures compare with what else is going on in our ever expanding human world?
Is God speaking?
Another feature of these strange days is how Christians are discovering scriptures that have otherwise lain dormant in our Bibles. One passage to emerge into the daylight recently is Isaiah 26:20-21.
“Go, my people, enter your rooms and shut the doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until his wrath has passed by. See, the Lord is coming out of his dwelling to punish the people of the earth for their sins. The earth will disclose the blood shed upon her; she will conceal her slain no longer.” [NIV]
As well as speaking into his own situation, and perhaps also offering Israel a chance to reflect on their Passover deliverance, Isaiah is reminding us all that, from time to time, the Lord ‘comes out of his dwelling’ to take a closer look at how men are treating each other. Just as at the time of the tower at Babel, he comes down to see with special interest what is happening in the world he created for us. What does he see today that disturbs him, and should disturb us too?
Please note that I am not in this piece commenting upon whether at this time God is coming out of his dwelling to punish humanity, or entering into the debate on his judgment through such diseases. I am, however, wanting to draw attention to other figures that we perhaps ignore, especially at a time when we are frightened over our own survival, and which God never ignores.
Worldwide about 2 people die every second, or 180,000 every day. Of these, 35000 die of hunger. That’s over 12 million a year. Meanwhile over 800 million are undernourished, while nearly the same number are obese and a staggering 1.7 billion are classed as overweight. (I’m looking at myself as I write this! And contemplating the amount I will eat today).
Nearly one million will die of water related diseases this year, with 800 million currently without access to safe drinking water source. Meanwhile Covid 19 is not the only deadly disease on our planet. Other communicable diseases account for 40,000 deaths daily.
The World Health Organisation estimates that approximately one million people take their own lives each year, that’s one every 30 seconds, and the rate is rising. Murder rates are slightly harder to access but a likely estimate is 400,000 a year (1100 per day), which is around three times those killed in armed conflict and terrorism combined.
Resuming our follies?
And then there is abortion. Such figures are never included in the statistics for death (or even birth) but the numbers are staggeringly high. Over 133,000 per day, or around 43 million per year, and recent new laws passed during the Coronavirus crisis will only send these figures still higher.
So how are we doing in our world of self-satisfied plenty? How do we measure up? And how does God see all this? We are all looking forward to defeating, or at least taming, our latest viral enemy, and re-entering some kind of normality. But will that ‘new normal’ mean a continuation of all that is mentioned above?
Without wanting to belittle the Covid statistics, and all the time remembering the tragedies behind them, these could be relatively minor in comparison to others such as we’ve considered in this piece. Of course Coronavirus may spike again and again, and never fully disappear, though there would have be at least 200 million deaths worldwide to equal those from Spanish Flu a century ago. But to paraphrase Churchill’s comment at the end of World War Two, you can triumph over your enemies only to resume your follies.
- Much of the dataquoted in this piece can be found in worldometers.info, accessed May 24th, 2020. These figures and many more are updated constantly. Other figures are sourced from www.ourworldindata.org.
Paul Luckraft is a Bible teacher who explores the scriptures from an Hebraic perspective. He runs several small study groups as well as speaking at larger gatherings. He also reviews books for Prophecy Today and is part of Steve Maltz’s Foundations team, taking part in their conferences and online Bible School.