“We all want our normality back.”—Angela Merkel, German chancellor.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect people globally, you may agree with her words. But what does “normal” mean? What are people hoping to do?
Resume their former lives. Some long for a more social life, one with hugs and handshakes as well as opportunities to travel. They feel that “getting back to a degree of normality” involves “restaurants, theaters, [and] that kind of thing,” as Dr. Anthony Faucia put it.
Improve their lives. Some see a chance for a “new normal,” that is better than the life they had before. They feel that this world of demanding jobs, social inequalities, and deteriorating mental health must change. “The pandemic,” says founder of the World Economic Forum, Klaus Schwab, “represents a rare but narrow window of opportunity to reflect, reimagine, and reset our world.”
Others have been so devastated by the pandemic that hope for a “normal” life seems far-fetched. For example, many have lost their job, their home, their good health or, worse yet, their loved ones in death.
Of course, no one can predict exactly how the post-pandemic world will turn out. (Ecclesiastes 9:11) However, the Bible can help us manage our expectations and cope with unfolding events. What is more, the Bible points to a future that we can be certain of, one that you may not have expected.
Gaining the right perspective on the COVID-19 pandemic
Long ago, the Bible foretold that widespread diseases or “pestilences” would occur during “the conclusion of the system of things.” (Luke 21:11; Matthew 24:3) When we consider the COVID-19 pandemic from that perspective, we see it as one of the many noteworthy events—including wars, great earthquakes, and food shortages—that we are told to expect in fulfillment of Bible prophecy.
How knowing this helps: While current pandemic conditions may improve, the Bible warns that we are living in “critical times hard to deal with.” (2 Timothy 3:1) Knowing this can help us manage our expectations about life in these challenging times.
The Bible gives us the right view: Our world, plagued by ever-increasing challenges, is in a time of transition. A transition to what?
A post-pandemic future you may not expect
The Bible foretold not only the serious problems we now face but also the better times we can expect soon. It describes a future that is way beyond what human governments could hope to achieve, one that only God can provide. “He will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore.”—Revelation 21:4.
Satisfying work that brings real contentment, not demanding jobs that lead to frustration or burnout.—Isaiah 65:22, 23.
How knowing this helps: The Bible says: “We have this hope as an anchor for our lives.” (Hebrews 6:19, footnote) Such hope of better things ahead can stabilize us. It can help us to cope with today’s difficult situations, to reduce anxiety, and to keep our emotional balance.
But can you really believe the Bible’s promises? See the article “The Bible—A Reliable Source of Truth.”
Bible principles for coping with the transition to life after the pandemic
Scripture: “Wisdom preserves the life of its owner.”—Ecclesiastes 7:12.
What it means for you: Make wise decisions to lessen the chance of getting sick. Evaluate the risk in your area. Consider health and safety regulations, the local rate of infection, and the percentage of the population that is fully vaccinated.
Scripture: “The wise one is cautious and turns away from evil, but the stupid one is reckless and overconfident.”—Proverbs 14:16.
What it means for you: Continue to take appropriate health precautions. Experts anticipate that the coronavirus will be with us for some time to come.
Use reliable information
Scripture: “The naive person believes every word, but the shrewd one ponders each step.”—Proverbs 14:15.
What it means for you: Choose carefully what advice you will follow. Your choice matters—you could potentially harm your health by making decisions based on misinformation.
Scripture: “Do not say, ‘Why were the former days better than these?’ for it is not out of wisdom that you ask this.”—Ecclesiastes 7:10.
What it means for you: Be determined to make the best of your current situation. Avoid nostalgic thoughts about life before the pandemic, and avoid dwelling on opportunities you missed because of pandemic restrictions.
Show respect for others
Scripture: “Honor men of all sorts.”—1 Peter 2:17.
What it means for you: People have reacted differently to the pandemic and its consequences. Allow them their opinions, but respectfully stick to the good decisions that you have made. Be considerate of the unvaccinated, the elderly, and those with serious underlying health issues.
Scripture: “Love is patient and kind.”—1 Corinthians 13:4.
What it means for you: Be kind when others express their anxieties about resuming activities that previously caused no concern. When planning your own activities, be patient with yourself as pandemic restrictions ease.
How the Bible is helping people to cope with the pandemic
Jehovah’s Witnesses take comfort in the Bible’s promises of a bright future, and this helps them to see beyond the pandemic. They also support one another by obeying the Bible’s command to gather regularly for worship. (Hebrews 10:24, 25) Everyone is welcome to attend the meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses, which are being held virtually during the pandemic.
Others agree that joining together with Jehovah’s Witnesses for worship has been helpful during these difficult times. For example, a woman infected with COVID-19 accepted an invitation to join Jehovah’s Witnesses’ virtual meetings. These meetings helped her emotionally despite her ongoing health issues from the virus. She later said: “I feel that I am part of this family too. Reading the Bible gives me peace of mind and inner calm. It helps me focus on my hope for the future instead of my problems. Thank you for helping me find that connection with God that I have sought all my life.”
a Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the United States.