The World Council of Churches (WCC) has newly released an online publication, "Health and Hope: The Church in Mission and Unity," a collection of previously published articles that resonate with the worldwide struggle amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In conjunction with this resource, WCC communication is sharing personal perspectives from faith-based health experts across the world. Dr Beate Jakob is a consultant for health and healing with the German Institute for Medical Mission.
In what way do you think the wisdom of the past can help us all cope with the current pandemic situation?
Dr Jakob: The pandemic demonstrates that our societies in general and our economy and the health systems, in particular, are very fragile and vulnerable. A little virus messes up everything. To me, the virus reveals human powerlessness in a time when we are tempted to feel almighty. The pandemic teaches me that we are not the masters of our lives and the world. It reminds us of the wisdom of the Bible that we are dependent and can only live by God's grace.
What is the biggest challenge in your current context?
Dr Jakob: The "shutdown" is an important measure from the public health point of view. On the other hand, more and more people are afraid of going bankrupt. Therefore, the gap between rich and not-so-rich people in Germany might widen as the economically poor will suffer most. Another challenge is a kind of divide among the population. Some people have a panic fear of getting infected with the virus and don't leave their houses anymore. Others are more or less careless and disregard some of the preventive measures that are recommended. The people of the latter group think they can cope with COVID-19 if they get it and therefore are not willing to live with personal restrictions for the sake of public health. We should learn that we can only cope with the coronavirus pandemic if we stand together in solidarity and remember the message of St Paul that we are "one body." Of course, and even more importantly, solidarity should also go beyond the German context as the pandemic might have dramatic effects on countries in the Global South. Therefore, we should assist them with knowledge and support as soon as possible.
What wisdom did you draw upon during the Holy Week?
Dr Jakob: During the Holy Week, we follow Jesus on his way through the deepest suffering and again experience that life is stronger than death. Therefore, there is hope in every situation. Personally, I hope for all of us and especially for our brothers and sisters in the economically poor countries that we might find new hope for a good future with the God on our side - with God who knows human suffering and has experienced it himself.
WCC landing page: Coping with the Coronavirus