By David Hegg
From my seat in the arena of church ministry, I’ve had a pretty good view of the whole COVID adventure that has been, and still is, playing out on the field of our lives. As the virus has touched our church family and the greater SCV family, we’ve all realized just how hard it has been to find information we can rely on. Regulations, information, predictions and even factual compilations of cases, hospitalizations and deaths have all become suspect as mutually contradictory news reports have deepened the confusion.
But one thing is all too apparent. When we dig down through all the opinions, recommendations and reports, we find one thing that is incontrovertible, and it is this: Overall health is extremely important. What we’ve all seen is how comorbidities can greatly increase one’s chances of suffering grave consequences from a virus that in most other cases is not life-threatening. Simply put, daily attention to maintaining good physical health that includes proper nutrition, consistent hygiene, regular exercise and recurrent medical attention as warranted is the most effective way to escape the ravages of the various viral culprits that swirl around us every day.
What we learn from COVID about the tremendous advantages that come with overall good health we should apply to our lives in terms of maintaining good overall ethical foundations, wise discernment and integrous living.
Here’s my point. When COVID hits, those whose health is compromised most often fare far worse than those in good health. The same is true in life. When adversity hits, when circumstances disappoint, and when discouragement and despair squeeze your gut, you had better have a solid ethical foundation that won’t crumble under the weight of the situation.
In my line of work, I often sit with those who have been broadsided by tragedy. The loss of a job, a shocking diagnosis, the death of a child, or any number of similar tragic life events can send those with no ethical foundation into a period of alternating anger, despair, grief and self-loathing. I’ve watched otherwise successful people melt down in the face of situations that, while horrible, have been managed by many before them who understood that it is not what happens to us but how we respond that really matters.
Now, I am not in any way denying the power of adversity to unsettle even the strongest among us. What I am saying is that those who have no ethical ballast, no perspective on the meaning and purpose of life, and who have lived in the shallows of personal happiness and selfish desires will, upon being run over by adversity, too often remain miserable and ineffective, wallowing in self-pity while playing the blame game. They are no good to themselves and a considerable pain to the rest of us.
So, what’s the answer? Just as good physical health requires consistent maintenance, so also a strong ethical system requires a purposeful pursuit of truth, knowledge and wisdom. I challenge you to test your ethical system by answering the four fundamental questions of life.
Who am I? Where did I come from? Why am I here? Where am I going? For example, here are my answers:
Who am I? I am a follower of Jesus Christ, God the Son Incarnate.
Where did I come from? Like every other human being, I was created by God as his image bearer, and thus, I have value and dignity that is to be lived out wisely.
Why am I here? I exist to find my identity in who God has made me, finding my life purpose living to glorify my Creator.
Where am I going? This life is just a prelude to the next. I believe that physical death will not end my being, but that, because of faith in Jesus Christ, I will spend eternity with my Creator, and with all those who have entrusted their eternal well-being to him.
Yes, I know. Those are my answers. Yours may be quite different. But here’s the deal. Those answers allow me to deal with suffering as that which God may be using in my life for good. They allow me to know what is right and true and useful in living this life, not for self, but for others. They also guard me against things that look good but are actually harmful.
Here’s my final question. What are your answers? Here’s to a New Year filled with the ability to respond well to whatever comes our way. After all, we’re in this together.
Local resident David Hegg is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church. “Ethically Speaking” appears Sundays.