Understanding God’s Purpose Empowers Us To Cope With COVID-19

When we say a pandemic is an Act of God it should be looked at in its proper context. COVID-19 has brought us the worst of times through loss of jobs and extreme hardship to businesses. At the same time, it has also brought us the best of times through new things and ideas we have discovered. It has certainly refocussed our attention to the family. That is in line with God’s purpose.
30 May 2020 15:34
Understanding God’s Purpose Empowers Us To Cope With COVID-19
Attorney-General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum giving a statement during the Parliament sitting on May 28, 2020. Photo: Parliament of Fiji


One of the fundamental truths during the COVID-19 pandemic is that God is in control.

Many of those who believe in the “Supreme Being and Creator of the Earth and the Universe” bear this testimony based on their Holy Writs.

So when the definition of the Employment Relations Act was amended to include pandemic as an “Act of God” it makes sense.

With so many conspiracy theories swirling around on the origin of the killer virus, its causes, and who is responsible for the science, there is a need to start from a common ground and bring some clarity to the subject.

It’s understandable that people who once held  stable and reasonable paying jobs and have suddenly been told that they no longer have a job because their employers have lost business are aggrieved. They are not alone.

Around the world, thousands of workers are facing similar predicaments because of the adverse economic impact of COVID-19.

The common reaction is to blame the employers and the Government. Even stimulus or rescue packages are temporary. Economists are making dire predictions of life after the relief assistance ends because it is not sustainable in the long run.

The road to recovery could be longer and more difficult than we expect. If that’s the reality, then that’s it – we have to face it and go through it with a positive attitude. Some would say that this is capitalism at its best, you ride the highs when markets are soaring and the lows when things take a turn for the worst.

In times like this we need all the energy and resolve to overcome our challenges and many of us turn to a higher power for help on this tough journey. It gives us a sense of relief that someone is there and knows the solutions to all our problems. For many religious Fijians this being is known as ‘God’.

The knowledge that we are not the first generation of people to have gone through a crisis like this is a sobering thought.

In the Holy Bible there are numerous historical accounts of people suffering from famines, pestilences, disease and natural disasters. In those ancient days they did not have the modern medicine and the technology that we are blessed to have today.

Many died or were scarred for life. There were those who held on to their faith in God and survived while others lost the plot and suffered.

Playing the blame game in the COVID-19 debate will do no one any good. We need to do what is best for everyone and to ensure that those who need immediate help are catered for.

In January, no one had foreseen what we are going through now or least expected it. COVID-19 has taken us by surprise. Those countries which had prepared early have recorded low or no deaths. Those who reacted late like the United States are now paying the high price through the death of thousands of their people.

In the Fijian context, we have done well on the health side. Our major worry now is on the economic side. With the border still closed, we will not be running on all cylinders.

Our focus now should be to stimulate the local economy to try to fill the gap created by the huge losses in the tourism and travel industries.

It’s a great time to develop and push our export products to cushion the impact of the decline in our foreign exchange earnings.

Pandemic – an act of God

When we say the pandemic is an Act of God it should be perceived in its proper context. Because we believe that God created the Earth, it goes without saying that he is in harmony with nature, meaning all living things.

It means nature is governed by divine law. When we upset the balance of nature through excessive pollution, over-fishing, destruction of forests and natural habitats of living organisms including animals, birds, insects etc we get climate change and depletion of food sources. This is his law and he is in control. We pay the consequences of our actions.

Since the beginning of time humankind has experienced historical cycles of war and peace, prosperity and adversity, health and pestilence (pandemic), seasons of abundance and famine.

It has endured earthquake, storms and floods and enjoyed the fruits of new inventions and discovery.


History books tell us of disease outbreaks that have ravaged humanity. In some cases they changed the course of history. In others, they signalled the end of entire civilisations.

One of the first recorded pre-historic epidemics, Circa, happened 3000 years BC (Before Jesus Christ was born) or 5000 years ago. It decimated a village in China.

Between 165-180 AD ( Since Jesus Christ), calendar we now use, the Antonine Plague, something like smallpox, was said to have killed more than five million people in the then Roman Empire.

The Black Death epidemic (1346-1353), caused by a strain of the bacterium Yersinia pestis killed over half of Europe’s population. It travelled from Asia to Europe.

In the Great Plague of London (1665-1666), 100,000 people died. Fleas from plague-infected rodents were one of the main causes of transmission.

The Great Plague of Marseille (1720-1723) started in France from a ship by fleas from rodents. It was reported that 100,000 people died from it.

In the 1875, one year after Fiji was ceded to Great Britain, a measles outbreak killed 40,000 people, estimated to be one third of the colony’s population.

The Spanish Flu (1918-1920), caused by a virus, killed more than 9000 people in Fiji and between 20 million and 40 million worldwide.

Last year’s measles outbreak and so far COVID-19 has not claimed a Fijian life. We should thank the leadership shown by Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and Minister for Health and Medical Services Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete, and all professionals who work on the frontline for their service and sacrifice.

To sum up this crisis, the opening words of English author Charles Dickens in his fiction novel, A Tale of Two Cities, best describes it.

He wrote: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times….”

COVID-19 has brought us the worst of times through loss of jobs and extreme hardship to businesses. At the same time it has also brought us the best of times through new situations and ideas we have discovered. It has certainly refocussed our attention on the family. That is in line with God’s purpose.

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