• Sunday, July 21, 2024
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Oga-Coro: The spiritual & religious dimensions

Oga-Coro (Covid-19): The good, the bad, the ugly and the messy

Oga-Coro, the uninvited guest who came along with its own chair, was a shot out of the blues. It came like a thief in the night (1Thes. 5:2): suddenly, without notice, catching us unaware. Indeed, we were attacked by a stronger man (Luke 11:22). It was like nothing we have ever seen or known in this generation because the eye had not seen, neither has the ear heard nor has it been imagined by people (1Cor. 2:9; Isaiah. 64;4).

It brought terror, danger of death and wave of destruction everywhere (Jeremiah. 20:8-10; Ps. 18:4) and it appeared we were born for trouble and sorrow (Jeremiah. 20:18). Its impact was brutal, pervasive and it derived special joy in humbling the great and unlike before the ‘leaders of the flock’ were also afflicted because they had nowhere to flee or means of escape (Jeremiah. 25:35).

Indeed, the mighty fell (2Sam. 1:19-20); the high and haughty were hewn down and humbled (Isaiah. 10:33) as He brought down the high tree and dried the green ones while exalting the low ones and making the dry to flourish (Ezekiel. 17:24) and none could boast of their wisdom, strength and riches (Jeremiah. 9:23) because it is not by power or by might … (Zech. 4.6). Our money, positions, possessions, connections and achievements became useless and we realised, sadly, that ‘our greatness will not keep us from death (as) we will still die like animals’ that we are (Ps. 49:20).

Those who always spoke with certainty about tomorrow, learnt to add ‘if the Lord wills’ (James. 4:13-15). In effect, it became obvious that we plan but God decides.

The poorer people and nations were treated more ‘compassionately’ by the vicious disease, which made the usually sure-footed scientists to speak in uncertain and contradictory tongues. It shows that the race or battle is not always to the swift and strong but to whom God shows mercy (Eccl. 9:11; Romans. 9.16).

As it has always been, whenever people are faced by the incomprehensible, they seek out the Great Being, asking ‘how, why, and when?’ Because the BOOK contains everything, it came in handy as people read online, offline and between the lines in sustained efforts to understand the inexplicable and uncontrollable. The situation proved Pastor Stephen Furtick right when he said, ‘The only way God can show that he is in control is to put us into situations that we cannot control.’

Some people said the end was near or that we have so turned away from God that He decided to ‘show us’ just a little. Some searched for the Biblical origin of Coro and its containment measures. Others sought out encouraging and soothing Bible verses, especially where we were told to be still (Ps. 46:10), and depend on His awesome powers and mercy (Isaiah 41:10). Some dwelt on spiritual songs that gave succour in trying times while others believed that the end had come because of the ‘plague’ (Luke 21:11) and the assertion that the end of all things is at hand (1Peter 4:7), forgetting that nobody knows the hour (Mat. 24:36). The number and dimensions of night vigils increased, we all became prayer warriors because as Hosea 5:15 had prophesied, ‘in their afflictions, they will earnestly seek me’!

This is the theme I will explore in this intervention: the spiritual and religious dynamis of the War Against Coro. Due to the weird utterances and actions of some ‘pastors’ during the ‘Covidious’ pandemic, I will devote a special attention to them. I have written this from a Christian perspective and I know that other faiths also adopted their own religious principles to see them through those tearful and fearful days.

It was during this era that I realised that Dolly Parton was a Gospel artiste. Her 2002 song, Hello God was played and re-played, especially in the early days of Coro. The song, which she sang in that her sonorous and enchanting voice, is a tearful and penitential plea asking God to listen, to have mercy, to ‘do something’: ‘…can you help us like before?…

We cant make it without you… please forgive us and give us one more chance’. Pastor Kumuyi appeared to agree with her when he said that ‘overwhelmed by our pain and suffering, we feel abandoned by God… We wish He would show up, and end the pains we bear’ (Daily Manna, 14/5/20).

These Catholic hymns: ‘God of Mercy & Compassion’, ‘Nearer my God to thee’, ‘I need thee every hour’ and ‘I surrender all’, became instant hits as various preachers admonished us to return to God who has torn and stricken us because he would surely heal, bind, revive, and raise us (Hosea. 6: 1-3).

As early as March 2020, The Catholic Church moved from ‘prayer for Nigeria in distress’ to prayer against Coro, imploring with the Omnipotent to take charge, as we prayed for effective medication to be speedily found (that was before the vaccines) ‘healing to the sick, eternal life to the dead and consolation for the bereaved’
And then, Mike Bamiloye released the earthshaking poem titled ‘Just only one plague’, recalling how Oga-Coro had mercilessly dealt with us, how we ‘obeyed’ and then asking the key question: ‘what shall you do about the ultimate plagues when the trumpet sounds?’

Some called for repentance, arguing that He inflicted us with the Egyptian Plague because we disobeyed the commandments, (Exodus 15:26; Deuteronomy 7:15).

Others recalled the promises of God that if he sent epidemic on the people, and they pray and repent of their evil ways, he would hear, forgive and heal the land (2Chron. 7:13-14).

Some reminded us of the assurances of Isaiah 54:7-10, where He promised that his anger will abet and that he will pity us and blessed us with his faithful love and covenant of peace and that if he did not spare his son for our sake, there is nothing that is too much for him to do for us( Romans 8:32).

We remembered Ps. 27, where we see God as our light and salvation, who will shelter us and keep us safe when attacked by enemy army (Coro caused more havoc than what the Russian army is doing at Ukraine).

Read also: Over 800m COVID-19 infections undiagnosed in Africa – WHO

However, we were admonished not to put the Lord to the test, to do our bits and to submit to government authorities and policies (1 Peter. 2:13-24; Romans 13:1).

We were also reminded of the Bible prophecies being fulfilled in the coronised environment, including handwashing, inability to mourn the dead and quarantining of the sick. (2 Kings 15:5; Isaiah 26:20).

We also started searching for Biblical solutions to this plague. We remembered how Moses and Aaron offered incense, stood between the living and the dead to end the plague that ravaged the camp (Numbers 16:47-8) and how David built an Alter and sacrificed burnt offerings to bring an end to plague in Israel.

As our laughter and joys were turned into mourning and gloom, we lamented, and wept (James 4:9). Coro was seen as the tare which the enemy sowed among wheat as men slept (Mt. 13: 24-28).

We prayed in deep contrition, soaking-in the various relevant Bible verses and prophecies. Psalm 102 became very popular: Lord hear our prayers; our lives are disappearing like smoke; do not hide your face from us in the day of our distress.

Psalm 77 came in handy as distressed humanity wondered if the Lord had rejected us forever; whether his unfailing love had vanished and if He had forgotten to be merciful? We pleaded for mercy as we believed we were troubled and chastised due to God’s anger, asking for how long Oh God (Ps. 90), asking God to remember us with His usual favour (Ps. 106).

We got more troubled and prayed more intensely when we read Jeremiah 25(15,32,33), where God made us ‘drink the wine of His wrath’ and ‘showered’ us with disaster of such proportion that the victims cannot be mourned or buried but rather scattered like dung on the ground.

We wondered why God struck us down without hope and surrounded us with terror instead of cure (Jere. 14:19) feeding us with ‘bread of adversity and water of affliction’ (Isaiah 30:20).

We prayed to God not to punish us for the sins of the past generations, to listen to the groans of the captive and to save those condemned to death (Ps. 79).

We earnestly prayed for mercy and fastened our eyes on the Lord as the maid on her mistress (Ps. 123:3), waiting for him as the watchman waits for the morning (Ps. 130:6).

We reminded God that He is our refuge and defense and implored him to guide and lead us as he promised and shelter us from danger (Ps. 31:3/4).

As we prayed for ourselves in our various homes and congregations, we also stood in the gap for our nation and for the world (Ezekiel 22:30) to prevail on God spare all of us (next week)

I wish you a happy holy week and pray that we learn from the life, humiliation and cruxification of our Lord, Jesus Christ.