Jesus promised in Matthew 5:4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” In this simple phrase Jesus declared the one thing that every crying creature begs to hear upon this earth: that God is not indifferent to their suffering.
Many have suffered in the midst of the pandemic and many more will continue to suffer as the months drag on and nations like India having bodies piling up on the steps of their crematoriums which are struggling to keep up with the mounting death toll.
Take the example of Kari Wegg, whose life will never be the same. This mother, wife, and nurse is now a survivor of COVID-19 and a new recipient of a double lung transplant to replace her destroyed lungs.
While Kari’s case is especially dramatic, there are a significant number of people who have suffered the life-altering effects of a COVID-19 infection. According to research published in February, a conservative estimate places the number of people with negative long-term effects at around 10% of those infected with COVID-19.
While this is not surprising given that similar long-term damage was seen in global populations after the Spanish Flu epidemic, that does not make this reality any more pleasant for those who have been affected.
Physical damage aside, the pandemic has taken tolls in other ways. In addition to imposing psychological difficulties caused by government lockdowns and social distancing policies, the very real grief of suddenly losing loved ones to this disease is rampant throughout the nation.
According to one poll published in the New York Post, approximately 1 in 5 Americans have lost a loved one to COVID-19 infection. While this is saddening enough, the full mental health impacts of this mass trauma will take decades to quantify and evaluate. All we know is that the scale of these long-term impacts will be colossal.
No matter what your political views are of the pandemic, your first concern should be to remember that there are very real human beings around you who have suffered tremendous loss. The loss of physical abilities due to long-COVID, the loss of a loved one, the loss of a year of one’s life, etc.
The world will never be the same. It will move on. But it will have forever changed. People will not snap back like a rubber band. Recovery will take time.
As Christians, it is our duty to show love, compassion, and understanding to those who are struggling to recover as we enter the post-pandemic era. Not only because of the innate love and compassion that we are promised as a gift of the Holy Spirit but because of the inheritance that God promises to those who take pity on those afflicted with such misery.
As it says in Matthew 25:34-40
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”
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 Dhwani Pandya, Upmanyu Trivedi, and Sudhi Ranjan Sen, “Bodies Pile Up at India Crematoriums Overwhelmed by Virus Surge,”Bloomberg (April 13, 2021), https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-04-13/bodies-pile-up-at-india-crematoriums-overwhelmed-by-virus-surge  Adam Geller, “Searching for footing in a life nearly extinguished by COVID,”AP (April 22, 2021), https://apnews.com/article/pandemics-health-lifestyle-lung-transplants-coronavirus-c66324b602f4fea7ca44ed0651ddc06c “Long haulers: Why some people experience long-term coronavirus symptoms ,” UCDavis Health (February 8, 20201), https://health.ucdavis.edu/coronavirus/covid-19-information/covid-19-long-haulers.html  Beth Newcomb, “A century of COVID-19: what history tells us about the long-term effects of a pandemic,”USC Leonard Davis (December 8, 2020), https://gero.usc.edu/2020/12/08/century-covid-pandemic-risk/  Elizabeth Elizalde, “1 in 5 Americans say they lost a loved one to COVID-19, poll finds,”New York Post (March 12, 2021), https://nypost.com/2021/03/12/1-in-5-americans-lost-loved-one-to-covid-19-poll/  Maddy Savage, “Covid-19 has increased anxiety for many of us, and experts warn a sizable minority could be left with mental health problems that outlast the pandemic,”BBC (October 28, 2020), https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20201021-coronavirus-the-possible-long-term-mental-health-impacts