Locked in Lomé

As of March 20, 2020 there are 12 confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 in Togo. This has led the government to enact a number of measures to slow the propagation of the novel corona virus:

  1. Land borders are closed to all travelers for two weeks. This does not affect the movement of goods.
  2. Several cities, including Lomé, are blockaded.
  3. It is forbidden to go to the beach indefinitely.
  4. Places of worship are closed for one month.
  5. All schools and universities are closed for 3 weeks.
  6. Funerals and burials are to be attended by no more than 15 people.
  7. All venders in markets are to wear masks.
  8. All mass cultural and sport events are suspended indefinitely.
  9. All nightclubs are closed.

Recently the US State Department said that any citizen residing in the US should return or be prepared to remain overseas for an indefinite period of time (I am prepared to remain here for an indefinite period).

So far Africa has had relatively few cases of infection, and I pray that continues to be the case. The World Health Organization, however, said that we should prepare for the worst. As the number of infections and the death toll mounts around the world, the health care system here is even more fragile, so it is very important to take every precaution to limit the propagation and “flatten the curve”.

While this can be a frightening time, we must remember that the Creator of the Universe is still at work preserving His creation:

Man and beast you save, O Lord. – Psalm 36:6

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. – Matthew 10:29-31

Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine. – Psalm 33:18-19

As I write this, I see two men going up and down my street wearing masks and handing out information. I assume they are encouraging the vendors to follow the guidelines and wear masks. There is a car with a load speaker blaring information in Ewe, which I cannot yet understand, but I assume is encouraging everyone to follow the guidelines.

Taking precautions to limit the propagation of and exposure to SARS-CoV-2 does not contradict our faith and trust in our Heavenly Father to protect and care for us. Out of love for God and our neighbor, we obey the government and follow the guidelines. We obey God by obeying the government.

The Triune God – the Father, Son, Holy Spirit – promises to protect and comfort us, but we should not test the Lord our God by ignoring the wisdom and advice of medical professionals. We should not metaphorically “throw ourselves from the pinacle of the temple” in attempt to demonstrate a strong faith.

That said, we can be tempted to place more trust in preventative measures or modern medicine than in God. Even in normal circumstances we are often tempted to place our confidence in the things of this world or in ourselves more than we trust in God.

But through the death and resurrection of Jesus, God’s Son, we have forgiveness for every time we have sinned against the first commandment and any and all of God’s commandments. Jesus has paid for and taken away all your sin so that you may have eternal life.

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:31-39

So wash your hands as you trust in the salvation God has given you in Jesus. May He continue to protect and preserve us all until He brings us to the heavenly home He has prepared for us in Jesus. Amen.