Australian social commentator Akos Balogh says that one insight can help us to better cope with the strange times we are living in.
He quotes author Stephen Covey, who points out: Each of us has many maps in our head ... we interpret everything we experience through these mental maps. We seldom question their accuracy; we're usually unaware that we have them. We simply assume that the way we see things is the way they are.
Your beliefs are like a map of reality. We know that a map is not the territory: it's a representation of the territory. And that is what our beliefs are: they're our representation, our view of reality.
So, it's not adversity per se that causes you to feel and act in a certain way, argues Akos. Rather, it's your beliefs about the adversity that lead you to feel and act the way you do.
Our modern culture generally has the belief: Suffering is all bad, and comfort is a necessity. That is our culture's map.
Akos argues that this belief system that all suffering is bad and must be avoided at all costs, not only leads to selfish behaviour (like hoarding and aggression), but it's also leading to negative feelings and emotions like anxiety, fear and depression.
Thus, our modern secular map of reality is morally and psychologically bankrupt, he says.
And so, is there a better map of reality? One that does help us deal with this crisis?
As it turns, out, there is.
The Bible gives us a different map that is an objective view of reality: reality as it is. A reality in which God is King, and the crucified and risen Jesus is ruling at His
And what's the Bible's map when it comes to suffering in general, including around COVID-19?
Suffering is often painful, but it is for our ultimate good.
For instance, the apostle James writes: Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. — James 1:2-4
In this interpretation of reality, suffering grows us, helps us to be compassionate, teaches us perseverance, keeps us humble and draws us closer to God. This map reminds us that this life is fleeting and helps us to keep our eyes on eternity. It helps us to lean into suffering and learn from it, rather than become bitter through it.
Akos concludes: We don't know when or how COVID-19 will end. Perhaps things will return to some semblance of normality within a few months. Or perhaps we're about to enter a major economic depression. And this state of social distancing will be the new norm until a vaccine appears. Only God knows.
But what we can do in the meantime is replace our bankrupt maps of reality – the ones that demand comfort and happiness now – with the Bible's map of reality. If we do that, we'll respond to COVID-19 in a way that brings joy to our lives, glory to God, and good to our neighbour.•
See Akos Balogh's article One Insight That Will Help You Thrive In The COVID-19 Age on his website akosbalogh.com