Here We Go Again: Another COVID Variant
This life is full of trouble. This should not be a surprise to Christians. The book of John includes Jesus’warning to his disciples that the world would persecute them. However, Jesus also says, in John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Christians always need to be reminded that God has overcome the world. Even when faced by such trials another COVID-19 variant, which means another round of lockdowns and daily media death tolls.
The discovery of the “Omicron” COVID-19 variant sent the world spiraling into a panic during Thanksgiving week as the newly mutated variant was identified and news of its discovery shared with the world.
By the end of the week, the variant had already been definitively identified in Germany, Italy, Belgium, Israel and Hong Kong, which means that, realistically, due to Thanksgiving travel, it was already in the United States and is a prime candidate to overtake Delta as the primary driver of infection.
In response to this concerning news, the market Cboe Volatility Index jumped nine points on Friday November 26th, indicating that fears about the effect of the new variant were already sending ripples through the United States’ economy.
This is not a positive signal but it is likely based on an accurate perception of how the responses of governments around the world will interfere with travel and trade.
Unfortunately, as one recent Yale Macmillan Center webinar discussed, the pandemic and COVID-19 have been used as an excuse in democracies around the world to promote authoritarian policies and increase centralized authority.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic is deadly and very real, the emergence of variants like Delta and now Omicron have decreased peoples’faith in the ideals of liberty as we have desperately sought to control something that is, at this point, largely uncontainable. Exacerbating factors, such as the 2020 race-reckoning triggered by the death of George Floyd, have also increased peoples’ appetite for government control.
This is not only evident in the push for a federal pandemic mandates, but also in ironic statements from public officials who are complaining about parents objecting to race-centered books being carried by their libraries. As one public official stated:
“When you have organizations like Heritage Foundation and Family Policy Alliance publishing materials that instruct parents on how to challenge books in the school library or the public library, right down to a challenge form enclosed in the booklet so they can just fill it out, you’re seeing a challenge to our democratic values of free speech, freedom of thought, freedom of belief.”
As frustrating and frightening as this push for government control can be, we as Christians should always keep our eyes on the life in the world to come. Though Christianity is not a prescription for stoicism, accepting the world and knowing that God is in control will go a long way in maintaining our peace of mind.
As we are exhorted in Romans 12:17-21:
“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord…Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
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“The week that Covid-19 sucker punched the world,”Straits Times (November 27, 2021), https://www.straitstimes.com/world/the-week-that-covid-19-sucker-punched-the-world. “Rampant Covid variant spreads to UK, Germany and Italy,”CNBC (November 27, 2021), https://www.cnbc.com/2021/11/27/the-world-is-on-alert-as-the-uk-reports-cases-of-omicron-covid-variant.html.  Sam Potter, “Wall Street Calm Is Finally Shattered as Stock Fear Gauge Spikes,”BNN Bloomberg (November 26, 2021), https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/wall-street-calm-is-finally-shattered-as-stock-fear-gauge-spikes-1.1687430. “Democracy and Rise of Authoritarianism in COVID-19 World,”Yale Macmillan Center (April 30, 2021), https://southasia.macmillan.yale.edu/news/democracy-and-rise-authoritarianism-covid-19-world.  Alison Flood, “US libraries report spike in organised attempts to ban books in schools,”The Guardian (November 25, 2021), https://www.theguardian.com/books/2021/nov/25/us-libraries-report-spike-in-organised-attempts-to-ban-books-in-schools.