Shall I set my lands in order?
Text ContentIn T.S Eliot’s wasteland; the Fisher King sits by the shore, with the arid plains behind him. In the wake of World War 1 and the additional devastation of the Spanish flu, London Bridge had fallen down. European culture had become sick unto death – powerless to save a dying continent, he wonders, “shall I at least set my lands in order?”
In March, Lifeline marked a record of almost 90,000 calls, the highest month in the history of the organisation. While for countries like Italy, COVID-19 has overloaded medical services, in Australia it’s the mental health of the nation that has been most strained. With lives upended, and our lifestyles greatly changed, people are feeling lost and helpless.
So, how can use this time effectively, and what can we do to move forward?
New age health guides will provide many useful tips on self-improvement during the pandemic, as they stumble around, rediscovering biblical truths. Their advice around healthy diets, mindfulness, a strict routine, and exercise, can go a great way towards maintaining good habits. However, any such advice is only useful if there is a will to improve. For many, the will has been tested greatly.
Spiritual health is a fundamentally religious domain, whether explicit or implicit. For Christians, true faith is an antidote that ultimately leads us away from despair and towards hope. In Matthew 6:27 he doesn’t suggest, but rather commands us, “do not worry … for who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life”.
Despair is the deadliest sin, because it is a sin upon the foundation of the soul. Hope helps to sustain good habits, not the reverse. As Aquinas says, “hope withdraws us from evils and induces us to seek for good things, so that when hope is given up, men rush headlong into sin, and are drawn away from good works.”
So, what hope can be had, amid such apparent chaos?
Whatever careless action or pure bad luck led to the first Coronavirus infection, one seemingly trivial event has amplified to a global scale and caused a great deal of suffering. However, just as one individual can cause a chain reaction of harm, so can one good deed enrich the world.
On a hill in Calgary, a Judean offering up his suffering for humanity may have seemed like a small and peculiar event to some, only in time was the true nature of this act felt across the world. When some may wonder, why would God care about my small, insignificant life? Moments like these show the mechanics of providence in full display.
For individuals, taking this time to grow in faith, and maintaining hope can bring about great meaning during this crisis. The fastest growing rates of Christianity are never in the west, with our abundant wealth; but in countries like China, Ethiopia, Cambodia, all which have suffered the greatest material and moral injustices. Suffering, as C.S Lewis puts it is like a megaphone, rousing a deaf world.