Corona-Benefits 3: Secrets Revealed

Increasingly, masks are being worn and I don’t just mean by the brave NHS superheroes who keep us safe in our beds each night. A man walking his dog, a woman at the Co-op, concealed and hidden. Each time I go out, more masks are covering faces. The pandemic is now obscuring identity and inhibiting facial recognition, while also exposing and revealing a great deal about us. I’ve previously referred to the panic-buying and hoarding tendencies of our countrymen, suggesting a deep-seated greed, or perhaps an old-fashioned fear of starvation. 

Charities are concerned about women and men trapped inside houses with abusive partners, having no place to flee. Hera Hussain, manager of one such organisation, reports increased levels of contact from victims seeking help and advice. Although general crime has fallen by 20% as the criminal classes have fewer opportunities to steal and brawl, £1.8 million so far has been lost to virus-inspired fraudsters, selling non-existence face masks and wonder-remedies. Whatever the circumstance, the depraved human heart will find some means to profit. 

Some elements within the police have been exposed as petty-tyrants. Along with toothpaste-scented council bureaucrats in hi-viz jackets carrying the ubiquitous clipboard, our parks have been solemnly guarded against trespassing members of the public wishing to take the air. This tendency to control, close, manage, ration and enforce must be monitored and quenched at the first opportunity. Government will always seek control over its citizens, and the pandemic certainly reveals a willing army of state employees, enthusiastically enforcing the politburo’s decrees. 

Ah, you say, but the virus has also brought out the best in us. Look at Captain Tom, for instance. Tom Moore is a 99-year-old war veteran and former army captain who has raised £25 million for the NHS by walking 100 laps around his garden. For an elderly man and his not-insubstantial garden, this is quite a challenge, and I salute the fellow. Moving photos of his trundling around on his zimmer frame have brought some light relief to an otherwise depressing news schedule. People were so impressed that they ‘sponsored’ him, kindly donating tenners and twenties, some far larger sums. Yet here’s my question: why did they have to wait for an old man performing an endurance feat before they would go pocket-digging? If the need is so great, and their cash so ready, why not donate anyway? Why wait for a spectacle before releasing this spare twenty-five millions of quid? London’s merchants were once approached by King Henry VI for a financial contribution. They suggested he sell them his jewels. He replied that if they could afford to buy his jewels, they could afford to give him something freely. Here, here. This reveals that generosity is sometimes only provoked because of some display or show.

What about we as Christians? What does the virus reveal about us? 

I have traditionally wrung my hands at my busy life-style, lamenting the lack of opportunity for deep Bible study, prayer and meditation. Sure, over the past weeks I’ve done some, but my days have hardly resembled John’s on Patmos. This has shown to me a spiritual weakness which having a busy day-job has merely masked. 

We all need human company, but has this period revealed our dependence on people instead of the Lord Jesus? Even Paul lamented that ‘only Luke was with [him]’ in the cell, yet he says the Lord stood by him when most in need. Our faith which may have appeared strong and vigorous in February may now be looking feeble and frail. I’m afraid it was ever thus; the virus removes disguises and eradicates pretension:

If you faint in the day of adversity,

Your strength is small. Proverbs 24:10

Whereas increasing numbers of Britons are donning masks as they go about their business, so a number of other masks have slipped and dropped. What do you know about yourself today they you didn’t know a few months ago?

Image by Juraj Varga from Pixabay