When we ushered in 2020, no one would have expected for it to play out like this. I, for one, was full of hope about what the new year would bring. Call me sentimental, but I am always excited by the idea of a leaf turned, a new period of time in which to get a fresh start and think about what is to come.
In January, we already began to hear about the novel coronavirus in the streets of Wuhan. Next it began to spread elsewhere in China. Suddenly it was raging in Europe and North America, but still, it was slow to reach Africa.
By the time it hit Kenya in mid-March, we were in a relatively good position. We had already witnessed how it could ravage a place quickly and ruthlessly. President Uhuru Kenyatta implemented immediate measures to mitigate its spread and keep us as safe as possible, given the circumstances.
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Shutting down the economy and movement has been a bitter pill to swallow, but it is still the best palliative we know of thus far.
Now, while cases are indeed on the rise, we are in a much better place than we might have been had the president not been so quick and decisive with making hard decisions. A leader is not only tested in times of peace and prosperity, but also in times of difficulty. And the crisis management displayed by our president thus far has been exemplary.
Still, it is easy to feel upset about what is going on. It is only natural to be frustrated and angry, and to not understand why this is happening to us. But almost the entire world is still in the same boat.
It is in these difficult moments that we should be turning to the Bible to help us keep our heads up. In Deuteronomy 31:6, as followers of Christ we are told to “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”
No matter the enemy - whether that be another nation or a lethal virus, God is not going to give up on us. We are God’s children, and that means that we shall never, ever be alone. Just remembering that simple fact sometimes takes a great deal of strength and courage.
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And the more you think about your strength and courage, the more it shall come true. Believing in one’s self - and also in one’s nation - is like a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you have faith that good things will happen, that everything will turn out alright in the end, then it indeed will.
But if you allow your thoughts to be clouded by negativity, then the worst can happen. Living a life free of misery and suffering is a matter of making continuous decisions to eradicate the bad from your life and hold onto the good.
The English writer and theologian C.S. Lewis adds to this point about hope and optimism, writing that “Hope is one of the theological virtues. This means that a continual looking forward to the eternal world is not (as some modern people think) a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do. It does not mean that we are to leave the present world as it is.”
In other words, thinking about the future is not - as some would have it - a form of evading the present. Long term planning is an expression of faith and values. While we must always make an effort to savour the present, it is also our duty to plan for the future.
Just like President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four Agenda was designed with the bigger picture in mind, we also must be thinking forward. This can also help us to put some perspective into what is happening right now.
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While the situation is not ideal due to Covid-19, it does not mean that the lifestyle changes and economic challenges we have recently suffered from will last forever. God will not abandon us when we need him most, and maintaining that hope is essential to both our physical and spiritual health.
Mr Kwinga is a political scientist. [email protected]