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Opinions of Sunday, 22 March 2020

Columnist: Rev. Fr. Albin Kissi Ernim

Why is God silent and coronavirus dictating to the world?

If not the first time in my life, perhaps, the most remarkable day in the life. I went to the church at the usual time for the morning service. To my surprise, I met an empty and silent Church. The scene was so unusual and dramatic. The silence in the church at that time of the day when we ordinarily meet to worship dawn on me.

This incident happened a day after the president of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo suspended church activities, closed down Schools and restricted other social gatherings as the preventive measure to control the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the country. Coronavirus has been declared by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a pandemic; has killed more than 7,000, sicken 200,000, and has spread to over 75 countries.

The president of Ghana, in addressing the nation, on Sunday, 15th March, 2020, about measures taken by government to combat the coronavirus pandemic stated: “These are not ordinary times”. Indeed, we are not in ordinary times. We are in an era when COVID-19 has closed shops, churches, borders, gatherings, schools etc. COVID-19 has become a household name. In a few months, the virus has dictated to the world in all spheres of life. It has dictated to religion; when to go to church, how to pray, how to sit, how to clap etc. It has taken the media landscape; it always has something new to make news. It has taken the headlines for national and international media. For the past few months, it is the topic for morning shows, panel discussions, and documentaries.

In science, it has become the specimen for most scientists and researchers. In sports, many leagues across the globe have been suspended. It has put many politicians and leaders on their toes. It has humbled and taken big nations like China, America, and Germany out of gear. In Africa, it has come to dictate to our culture and traditions. Our funerals and usual attitude of greetings are seriously affected and discouraged. It has no respect for any race, colour or religion. Scientist have not recovered from the shock and devastating nature of this virus. Religious men and women are surprised about the virus and its impact on great Christian and Islamic nations.

The million-dollar question is; why is God silent? Why this Chalice? Why is COVID- 19 dictating to the world? Has God disappeared in his world? Is God Absent? Can God justify himself in the midst of evil and can religion give a satisfying response to the Coronavirus pandemic and the problem of evil at large. When we wonder about evil, we actually do not know what we are asking. Can we mortals perfectly explain suffering? Does it make us look lukewarm in our faith, and thinking that God has abandoned us? , or like the unbeliever supposed that God does not exist?

God always watches over us. God will not evil. Evil exists because his love is not accepted; his love is misunderstood, rejected and resisted. God is not silent for silent sake. His silence is a mystery. His silence is not that he is insensitive to the COVID-19 pandemic. His silence makes humanity begin to contemplate. It questions man to enter into the mystery of life. A mystery that moves us prayer, devotion and repentance. Indeed the silence of God in the face of COVID-19 must call man to repentance and humility.

The silence of God is one of Divine strategy to draw man to himself. It is the silence of God in the midst of the dictatorship of Covid 19, which has made the whole world think about the deplorable and weakness of the human inventions and the reality of the human nature. Like Christ before Pilate, God can remain silent for some time and for a purpose. At his appointed time he will speak. When the storms are over. God will definitely speak. God can allow evil to happen to create something new.

Obviously, COVID-19 has emptied the streets of proud cities and nations; it has dismantled human-made cultures and traditions. Indeed, it has made the wisdom of the world foolishness. It has broken the walls of racism, discrimination, apathy, and unnecessary technological competition. It has dismantled religion without God. It has exposed spirituality without relationship. It has muted those activists crying everywhere for freedom without responsibilities.

The silence nature of God does not mean that God will never speak. There is time for everything ( Ecc 3:7) The still voice of God will speak at his own proper time. We just have to be patient. The effort to be patient is difficult. God drapes himself in silence and reveals himself in the interior silence of our hearts. Christ alone can give man the strength to confront evil and come to terms with it. Without me, you can do nothing (Jn 15:5). The man of faith must look to Christ in silence. Jesus the way the truth and the life (John 14:6).

God is speaking even in these challenging times. His voice is clear, simple, and straight. All things work together for those who love him (Rom 8:28). In suffering, man must turn to God to ask him to intervene. The psalm says my eyes are towards you, O Lord: in you, I seek refuge; leave me not defenceless! (Psalm 141:8) with prayer, we can stand in front of the deadly coronavirus like David before Goliath. Let us pray, let us be careful, and let us repent.

The Village Preacher

Sekondi-Takoradi Diocese

Western Region