During this coronavirus season, two basic human desires emerge. We do not want to be alone and we do not want to die.
The retired Army colonel and infectious disease expert Dr. Deborah Birx tells us that these two concerns are working against each other. If we isolate ourselves, we have less chance of infection and death. If we give in to the desire to be with others, we increase risk to ourselves and them.
Loneliness has itself been called an epidemic. Former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said, “We live in the most technologically connected age in the history of civilization, yet rates of loneliness have doubled since the 1980s.” So even though we have access to smart phone apps and computers, these are no substitute for in-person human interaction. The current social distancing and shelter in place demands have their own risk: exacerbating loneliness.
Projections of coronavirus fatalities in the U.S. have dropped considerably over the lifespan of the pandemic. Initial estimates of 2 million are pushed aside by the latest models predicting 60,000. They tell us it’s because we are practicing the recommended “mitigation” techniques. It is also surely a function of the heroic efforts by healthcare professionals.
Despite our best efforts, we will never in this life be free from loneliness, and these human bodies we live in will run out of time. So, though we have desires to the contrary, they will not be completely and finally fulfilled in this life. In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis puts that into perspective. “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. I must make it the main object of life to press on to that other country and to help others to do the same.”
So, you soldier on, with the joy and expectation of another place where you will enjoy companionship and life. The Bible says, “Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations, before the mountains were born or You gave birth to the earth…You turn man back into dust and say, ‘Return, O children of men’ ” (Psa. 90:1-3). The companionship you desire is with God, and with all those who answer his call to return. Your desire for life is fulfilled in Jesus. He said, “This is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:40).
This coronavirus season has folks thinking about lessons learned in politics, medicine, supply chain, and the economy. But wouldn’t it be amazing if it causes you to think about finding what you really desire? If it does, it wouldn’t be a mere virus.