A Freshman’s Perspective
by katherine wang, harvard ’23
As one who has followed the growth of COVID-19 from its beginnings to its spread across the globe, I have been consumed with worry for relatives living in hot spots, disturbed by empty shelves in grocery stores and the impact on our economy, and grieved by people ridiculing the power of prayer on my social media feeds. This pandemic seems anything but light or momentary. It is difficult to see past our afflictions when we are in the midst of them, but when I take a moment to consider this pandemic in light of eternity, I have realized three things.
First, our God is so much more powerful than a pandemic. Our God spoke galaxies into existence, separated light from darkness, and breathed His life into us—and “these are just the beginning of all that [H]e does, merely a whisper of [H]is power” (Job 26:14 NLT).
He can easily extinguish this virus, yet He has chosen not to. Why? Although we cannot discern the thoughts of God, whose ways are always higher than our own, we know that God has permitted pestilences and disasters in the past. Whether it be the plague on the livestock of Egypt, the pestilence that struck Israel after King David’s census, or the famine in Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son, God often uses calamities to bring us back to Him.
This brings me to my second realization: we need to repent. It is so easy to equate ourselves with the righteous people that Abraham pleaded for when he asked God to spare the destruction of Sodom—believe me, I have often thought of myself in this way—but this pandemic has taught me that I am deeply sinful. This pandemic has exposed my sin of loving gifts, such as my college experience, more than the giver of gifts.
Praise God that He is willing to discipline me as His own child and to realign my desires so that I might set my heart on eternal, rather than temporary, treasures! In the words of Job, who experienced tragedies that I cannot even begin to comprehend, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21 ESV).
Third, the consequences of not believing in God are much more terrifying and worthy of our attention than the effects of this pandemic. The Gospel of Matthew frames it this way: “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28 ESV).
Diseases can only harm our physical bodies, but God can destroy both our physical bodies and our souls. The life we have right now is fleeting, merely a shadow of the eternal life that is to come for those who believe in His son. But there are some who cannot imagine anything greater than this temporary life—and we have the privilege and duty to spread the good news to them.
Because of God’s holiness, our sinfulness, and the dreadfulness of being eternally separated from Him, we should live as those who are on a mission to bear Christ to others. Especially during a time of chaos, it is so clear to others when we have a God-given joy and peace. We “rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory” because we know that we do not belong to this world, but to a heavenly kingdom where there is no more suffering (1 Peter 1:8-9 ESV). We can ask God for a peace “which surpasses all understanding” and guards our “hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7 ESV).
As a community, we should emanate our joy and peace to those around us “so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:4 ESV). There is no better opportunity than this pandemic to demonstrate God’s love to others and to give them a desire to seek more of it by being in a relationship with Him.
Therefore, let each of us serve as a mouthpiece for God. Let each of us be a vessel that pours out His love on others. And let us pray that this tumultuous time will not only help our own faith to grow, but will also allow others to recognize who He is.
Katherine Wang is an emerging leader with Christian Union’s ministry at Harvard College.