More Than a Number

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I suppose that this may be particularly true of younger people, but even us older folk are not exempt from the assumption that crisis and/or tragedy may strike others, but not us. “It might happen to others, but not to me.” Such confident invincibility is wishful thinking at best, and presumption at worst. And with the knowledge that one of our own church members has pneumonia coupled with COVID-19, let this serve as a call to wake up, as well as a call to prayer.

Since yesterday, Martin Lötter is on a ventilator in the ICU of Roseacres Hospital. Tania, his wife, explained to me that the purpose of the ventilator is to relieve his body of the stress of trying to breathe with lungs full of pneumonia. This will provide his body with more strength to fight the infection as well as providing his body with much needed oxygen. I have assured her, as have others, that we are praying fervently toward that end. We of course are also praying for emotional, physical, and spiritual stamina for her and their daughters, Sarah and Emma. (Thankfully, Tania reports that he has shown some good improvement since being on the ventilator.)

We have all become accustomed to being asked, “Have you been in contact with anyone in the past fourteen days who has tested positive for COVID-19?” With Martin, I now have known two people who have tested positive. Perhaps you have known several. Regardless, our brother will now be added to the growing numbers, published daily, of new infections. I am trusting the Lord that, sooner rather than later, he will be added to the growing numbers marked “recoveries.” I am sure that echoes your heart and desire. May it fuel our prayers.

As I have been processing this recent news, not only have I been struck by the reality that the virus has now affected two members of our family of faith, our household of faith, but it has also served to remind me that those infected with the virus are more than a number. Statistics are helpful and, in these days, they are very significant to those who are trying to chart the way forward. But let’s remember that headlines such as the one on News24—“SPECIAL HUB: Lockdown Day 90: All the latest coronavirus numbers”—are referencing people: human beings with the distinct characteristic of being made in the image of God. Though the coronavirus is very much a public health issue, let us remember that, ultimately, this is a sanctity of life issue. Knowing someone who is ill because of this virus drives this point home in a personal way.

The government has been criticised from all sides regarding their lockdown response. For what it’s worth, much of the criticism is nothing but bellicose hot air. And though we wish the government was equally concerned about the life of the unborn and the vulnerable, let’s give credit where credit is due. Let’s be grateful that our president has repeatedly expressed grief over the victims of the virus. In other words, those suffering are not merely numbers to him.

Martin is certainly not merely a number to us. As Psalm 139 makes clear, God formed him in his mother’s womb. (I’ve, in fact, known him since not too long after he and his twin brother came forth from the womb.) But because he has been born again, he can rest in the truth, “How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you” (Psalm 139:17–18).

Let’s pray that Martin will know of the precious presence and care of his and our heavenly Father. Thankfully, he is much more than a mere number to God. He is God’s child.

Praying and trusting with you,

Doug