Nothing New

My earliest memories of being frightened by the nightly news concerned the nuclear arms race. I can still picture the infographics being flashed on the screen. First the drab grey background displayed several lines of red and blue submarines; then several rows of red and blue missiles. The reporter explained that the USSR had a third more of both these deadly commodities. This however was not to concern us … since we had more than enough for mutually assured destruction. I was not comforted.

I found this wisdom from C.S. Lewis about the nuclear age. As the person who posted it said, you could easily insert Covid-19 for the word bomb …

In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb. “How are we to live in an atomic age?” I am tempted to reply: “Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.”

In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented … It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.

This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds. — “On Living in an Atomic Age” (1948) in Present Concerns: Journalistic Essays.

So there has always been something to terrorize us if we give into fear. The wonderful part about our history is that Christians have often stood in times of crisis when others ran or fainted. It was not because we doubted our mortality … but because we did not doubt our immortality secured in Christ. Let’s be another generation of those more concerned about others and our Lord … than we are even for our own lives. Whether it’s a bomb, a bug or tottering old age that ushers me into the presence of Jesus … for me to live is Christ and to die is gain. Philippians 1:21