December 5th, 2020

Unanswered questions


By Submitted Article on November 7, 2020.

Limited knowledge

Second of three parts

Jacob M. Van Zyl

In the beginning of 2019, the world was completely unaware of the approaching health tsunami called COVID-19. It was an unknown unknown, not at all anticipated by public opinion and services.

When China admitted in January 2020 the outbreak of a new coronavirus in the city of Wuhan, the world faced many unknowns. How does this virus differ from others? Where did it originate? How does it attack and affect the human body?

How does it spread in a community? How can people prevent infection? How can countries prepare and defend themselves? How should health care manage testing, tracking and quarantine? How should hospitals prepare for the treatment of severe cases?

How will economies be affected by shutdowns, and how can the adverse affect on personal income be softened? What would happen to places where crowds assemble, such as churches, schools, restaurants, stadiums and group sports?

Each of these and other questions should not have been answered by guessing but by research of existing knowledge and by international cooperation and sharing.

From March to August 2020, some countries (like Germany, Taiwan, South Korea and New Zealand) had lower infection rates than others (like Italy, Spain, Britain and America).

After economies opened up, the second wave of COVID-19 was worse for all countries. In some environments it was either difficult to observe safety measures or people got complacent and even defiant.

For economic and other reasons, lockdowns cannot be sustained for long. Life must go on despite the threat of infection. Maybe more people will practice the ABC of prevention, such as handwashing, facemasks, distancing and avoiding of group activities. Maybe governments will catch up with testing and tracking.

Eight months into the pandemic, we still face many unknowns and uncertainties.

Israel has faced many uncertainties in its history, too. The patriarchs were nomads in the land God promised to their offspring. They could only hope and trust that God’s promises would someday materialize.

Israel’s 430-year stay in Egypt as slaves must have kindled many questions about the prospects of future generations.

When they were miraculously freed, they wavered to take the Promised Land, and God disciplined them with 40 years of wandering in the desert. Many questions of uncertainty must have plagued their minds when they sat at their campfires at night.

And when they lost the Promised Land due to idolatry, becoming captives in exile, they must have pondered the stupidity of the past and the bleakness of the future.

King Cyrus allowed some of them to return to Judah. They rebuilt the temple and the walls of Jerusalem. However, for 400 years there was no prophet. They probably wondered about the future during the long silence of God.

Jacob Van Zyl of Lethbridge is a retired counsellor and the author of several faith-based books.

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