About a year ago, I visited Oxford, England and made a point to go show my friend one of the local pubs, The Eagle and Child. It is a very non-descript little hangout with a few booths where people can meet and discuss the affairs of the day.
Some 72 years ago, C.S. Lewis hung out in that pub with his friends (The Inklings). Perhaps one night they were discussing the issue of the day, which was the threat of the atom bomb. It was a pressing matter for the people of Europe (and around the world) and C.S. Lewis decided to address it in an essay entitled, “On Living in the Atomic Age.” (1948)
The last couple of weeks have been filled with fear and uncertainty for all of us. And as I read his words, and substituted “coronavirus” for “atom bomb,” I gained some perspective.
Perhaps reading just a bit of his essay will encourage your mindset as well.
“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: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors—anesthetics; but we have that still. 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.”
I love that perspective. So, during these challenging days, let’s make sure to not let fear grip our souls. Let’s keep walking the dog and checking in with neighbors. Let’s keep listening to good music and feeding our hearts on God’s Word.
This is the perfect time to reach out and care for others as we point them to our Savior. Remember: “The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life, of whom (or what) shall I be afraid?” Ps. 27:1