There is a saying that times of crisis reveal the character of a man. This recent coronavirus threat is one such time. Sadly, the picture is often not pretty.

The following are three observations I have made during this period: Firstly, there is fear. This is seen most starkly in the mad supermarket rush that occurred after the announcement of DORSCON Orange on 7th February 2020. Triggered by apparent fake news that there may be a lack of toilet and tissue paper due to factories shutting down in China, Singaporeans descended in hordes to swipe these toiletries off the shelves. The panic soon spread, leading the marketing troopers to snap up rice, canned food and other food stuff as quick as a locust swamp. This resulted in a temporary lack of food in many supermarkets. Thankfully, the Lord has blessed the nation with a wise government that ensures sufficient supplies even in unforeseen circumstances like this. Otherwise, worse could have ensued.

Secondly, there is greed. This is seen in the exorbitant rise in items which are used for cleansing, sterilisation and protection from the virus. Rather than pricing these essential items reasonably, businessmen exploited the fear of the crowd to the limit. Are not these items essential in times such as these? And yet the greed of man knows no bounds, causing some items to be priced beyond the reach of the common man.

Then there is the excessive hoarding that was seen during the supermarket rush on 7th February 2020. Greed caused some to buy more items than necessary. And pride caused them to take pictures and videos to boast about their bomb shelter mini-marts. These pictures soon went viral on the internet for the masses to view.

The hoarding of these items revealed yet another problem – apathy and selfishness. Is there any concern that such hoarding of items will cause their fellow neighbours to suffer?
What about those who desperately need these items?

In the mean time, there are increasing cases of healthcare personnel being abused. Some found it difficult to get home by private hire transport because drivers refused to pick them up. There was also a report of a nurse who was thrown off the bus simply because somebody spotted her uniform in a plastic bag. These abuses and ill-treatment of medical personnel are all the more ironical and foolish, considering that they are most needed in this time of pestilence.

Other sectors of society are also not spared. Some take great pains to avoid those who speak with a certain accent, associated with the origin of the virus. There were also reports of certain members of the public who avoided students from Victoria Junior College because one of the confirmed cases happened to be a teacher in the institution. There is little sensitivity and consideration for fellow men in society.

As Christians, we must make sure we respond correctly to the situations around us. Others may panic because they do not know God. However, we are children who know Christ as our Saviour. He is our tower and refuge (2 Sam. 22:3). We ought not to conduct ourselves as though there is no God in our lives to protect us. Moreover, even if the Lord does permit us to be afflicted, we know we will recover if it is His will for us to continue serving Him upon the earth. If not, we know that we have a place in heaven, and in the kingdom to come. Therefore, let us conduct ourselves as people who possess and are aware of our living and heavenly hope! 

Moreover, as believers, we must guard our hearts from the covetousness and apathy as described earlier in the article. The Christian ought to to care of others before self. “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” (Phil. 2:4) Did not the Scriptures command that we should love our neighbour as ourselves (Matt. 22:39)? Let us then follow this golden rule which the Lord has set for us.

The worsening pestilence have led many churches to remind members of their social responsibilities. Measures have been taken to prevent the spread of the virus. Please practice good physical hygiene during this period and do our part in the containment of this plague. Self help with God’s help is the best help.

On the other hand, we must not lose sight of the real test – it is not just a test of physical hygiene but spiritual hygiene. Our Christian testimony is at stake. In such dire times, it is all the more important that the light of Christ must shine forth from us. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matt. 5:16) If we conduct ourselves no differently from the people in the world who know not God, then we will fail the test. Our conduct during this period will reveal our doctrine and theology. May the Lord grant us grace to walk in faith during this time of pestilence.

Meanwhile, my prayer for everyone is this – “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.” (3 Jn. 1:2) Jesus is coming very soon. Press on in the work of the Lord.

Yours affectionately,
Pastor Clement Chew