Monday, March 16, 2020

Faith and Risk

Many prophetic voices are declaring that a spirit of fear is spreading around the world faster than the coronavirus. That is probably true, as fear is one of the enemy’s favourite weapons. However, we must not forget that complacency is another of his favourite weapons.

The best antidote to fear is trust in Jesus and walking his Spirit while living in a body of believers who love each other and are committed to supporting each other. Ps 91 is not a magic spell. Nor is it a guarantee to individual believers. It is a promise to a body of believers who love each other and walk in the spirit together, who make God their dwelling place (Ps 91:9).

The second-best antidote to fear is a clear understanding of the risk. Many people who contract the disease will have very mild symptoms. For most people, the risks of being killed by coronavirus are quite small, and most will get better.

The world we live in is full of risks, such as being knocked down by a car, but most of them are insignificantly small, so we can choose to ignore them. Many people, especially those who are young, have happily engaged in adventure tourism events, driven dangerously in motor vehicles, or done things under the influence of alcohol that exposed them to far greater risk than coronavirus does. We should not panic about risks that are relatively small.

However, for elderly people and others with pre-existing respiratory problems, the risks from coronavirus are much higher. We do not help them by trivialising the risks they face. They might need a group of faithful Christians supporting them in prayer, and some will possibly need a gift of healing to get through.

Although they are well trained, and have protective equipment, the nurses who will care for seriously-ill people hour by hour will feel like they are being exposed to greater risk than usual. They will need faithful prayer support and strong spiritual protection while they are caring for people in need.

As I noted in a previous post, the economic risks from coronavirus are probably much greater than the health risks, and they are already being felt. The slowdown of production in China is affecting production in factories all over the world. The controls on international travel introduced at the weekend will have a much greater effect. The tourism industry will be particularly hard hit, but in the inter-connected world that we live in, the pain will ripple thought the entire economy. I explain some of the reasons in Trade and Specialisation.

When life is uncertain, people stop spending, especially on goods and services that are not essential. This downturn will affect industries and businesses far beyond those that are directly affected. The large number of workers on casual contracts or on short-term freelance contracts will exacerbate the situation.

We had breakfast with friends in the restaurant of a tourist hotel on Saturday morning. The restaurant was quite empty, so I asked the waitress serving us about the impact of coronavirus. She said there had been a big decline in guests at the hotel. She said many of the staff had been put on reduced hours. She was worried about one of her colleagues who had just taken out a mortgage to buy a house. No doubt the situation people employed by this business got worse on Sunday when the government announced big restrictions on international travel.

Trivialising the economic risks is not helpful. Many people will face reduced hours, and some will lose their jobs. Most of the employment in the tourism sector are in low-wage jobs, so they will have much to come and go on. Many businesses will struggle, and some will fail. The restrictions on international travel could be in place for some time, which will increase the economic pain for the business and people affected.

Governments will introduce support packages to help the people and businesses affected, but they will not be able to restore everyone who is affected. Many will miss out, because they do not fit the criteria. Even if they do get help, they will not be fully compensated for their losses.
Unfortunately, because governments all over the world have mismanaged their economies in the last couple of decades, the world economy is not as robust as it should be. I describe these risks in Thoughts on the Economy.

People who are struggling economically will need assistance from the body of Christ. They will need people of faith to strengthen them and people of generosity to sustain them during their time of need. I explained how this could be done in Preparing for Economic Crisis. Unfortunately, the church in the western world is not well prepared for dealing with a season like this, as most of its income is committed to salaries and mortgage payments for buildings.

No comments: