Yesterday was a good news day in the battle against COVID-19. The twin announcements of a mass testing trial in Liverpool and the positive results from vaccine trials were signs op hope. However, in the Prime Minister’s statement last night, we were reminded by him and the Deputy Chief Medical Officer that there is still some way to go. I suspect Winston Churchill would have said that this is the end of the beginning not the beginning of the end. We are perhaps closer to Dunkirk still than we are to D-Day.
I was particularly struck by one phrase uttered by the DCMO.
“We have seen a swallow but it is not summer yet.”
This was fascinating because the phrases I’ve kept coming back to as a way of expressing hope is that #SummerIsComing and #SummerIsStillComing. I am talking of course metaphorical summers here. One of the things I’ve learnt both from Scripture and for life is the way in which God kindly gives us little signs of hope along the way, even through darkest days. In the early days of the pandemic, the rainbow symbol was taken up by millions as a sign of support for our frontline workers and of hope in the midst of tragedy.
The rainbow first shows up in Genesis 9. God puts his bow in the heavens as a reminder that he will not judge the world with a flood again. This does not mean that a final judgement day isn’t coming and nor does it mean that we won’t see floods and devastation again. What it means is that those floods will not be world destroying and will not be final. There will be dry sunny days after the storm, the waters will recede, life will go on. Winter is coming but so too is summer.
In the same way, it is important then to recognise that whilst there will be wars, famines and plagues, those things are not final and permanent judgement. Peace will follow war, plenty will follow famine and vaccines will turn up to combat pandemics. Summer is still coming.
Coronavirus will not wipe us out and destroy the planet. I say that not out of hubris but because the Bible is clear about that. Just as during the Cold War, we knew that the superpowers of the day did not have the power to end the world, so too we know it is not in the power of a virus. You see, it is God who has set a day. Christ will return and then there will be final judgement. The promise of summer is not to inoculate against that truth. If you have not yet put your trust in Christ, then the signs of hope we have whether swallows, rainbows, baptism or communion are a warning to you that you need to urgently put your trust in Christ.
However, if you know Jesus then these signs remind us that there will be both better days ahead and darker days too. However, one day, Christ will return and invite us to enjoy the eternal summer. Yes Summer is coming.