Over the past two years plus we have been fighting a pandemic. During that time no matter who you met or what you were doing it seems that the conversation always turned to the pandemic, mandates connected to Covid, and how it had changed your life. “Pandemic” became one of the most common terms in our vocabulary. Our focus was always drawn back to the issue of the Covid pandemic and the daily changes and challenges we were facing as a result of this worldwide event.
I believe that the Covid pandemic has led to a number of other pandemics. In other words, one thing – one pandemic – has led us to be facing a number of other resulting pandemics such as we are now seeing with the rise in mental health issues in the aftermath of Covid.
1> A Pandemic of Depression
Statistics show that there has been, over the course of the two years of Covid mandates, a sharp rise in the number of people reporting symptoms of anxiety, depression, stress, and insomnia. This includes many spiritual and church leaders who are also experiencing a higher level of mental health issues. In fact, recent surveys indicate that pre-Covid saw 1 in 10 people dealing with depression in its many forms. It currently stands at 4 in 10 adults reporting issues with depression.
The Church should not ignore this problem. It should be addressing it biblically from the pulpit and it should impact the way pastoral care is viewed and carried out. Although direct care is best left to the professional in the field of mental health, the Church should still offer spiritual care and support for those going thorough this pandemic.
2> A Pandemic of Distrust
There is currently a very high level of distrust toward institutions, the media and other entities such as the Church. This distrust is at its highest level in at least a generation. This of course directly effects how we relate to others, especially to those with whom we disagree. Maybe the distrust was always there in some form or other and Covid simply allowed it to surface and become something that we need to deal with openly and honestly.
Media, education, news organizations, government institutions, and churches have lost the trust of many. So, we see skepticism expressed in so many different places and in a variety of ways. This, of course, undermines the social fabric causing much division and strife. People simply don’t know what or whom to believe and trust in this pandemic of distrust.
The Church should encourage dialogue between those who hold different points of view. Believers need to be encouraged to be more empathetic toward those who take a different view than ours, and we should be careful not to allow disagreements turn into ongoing and dangerous disputes. We must recognize the need to be ministers of reconciliation as Paul states in his letter to the Corinthians.
3> A Pandemic of Division
Many churches are divided due to the Covid pandemic. Masks or no masks. Vaccines or no jabs. Meeting in the church building in spite of government health rules dictating that this is not allowed. We have seen demonstrations, conveys, occupation of various capital cities. People have felt that their rights have been stepped on and that the authorities have entered into areas of life where they don’t belong. Within the Covid pandemic time frame we have also seen the rise of Black Lives Matter, All Lives Matter, and a number of other very prominent social movements. Conspiracy theories abound. And, we have seen a major increase in divisive behaviour and actual division in families and churches and not just in society in general.
In the Church today it is pretty normal to 25 to 30% of the people upset with the leaders simply because of this pandemic of division. It is taking its toll on the very fabric of the life of the Church. We can tend to have a house divided against itself. I am personally amazed at the division I have seen in my limited involvement in the Church in my own nation, in the United States, and in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. We need to be teaching and exhibiting kindness and patience and the other fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians, Chapter Five. We must not become a house divided against itself.