In this short note, I would try to reflect on some of the lessons I have learned in the challenging times when my wife was away from me in the rehabilitation/quarantine center due to Covid-19. I would also try to share a testimony of hope.
How does it all start?
My wife, Eden Gashaw, works at the head office of one of the private Banks in Addis as a legal expert. On July 15, 2020, staff members from the Ethiopian Public Health Institute (EPHI) came to the office where my wife works to take the samples of contacts of a woman who had tested positive for Covid-19. Though my wife was not in that contact list, she asked EPHI people whether she could give sample as well. They agreed and took her sample. When one considers the fact that even direct contacts of a Covid-19 patient are not keen on being tested, I find it highly responsible of her.
Spiritual and Psychological Readiness
We talked about the ‘what if it is positive’ scenario, but it was not a serious discussion as both of us didn’t experience symptoms. On July 18, 2020 around 08:00 PM EPHI people called my wife and told her that the test result was positive. I was out of home that night and she told me the bad news as soon as I had reached home. My wife was crying and I was shocked. I tried to cover my fear so that I could make her feel better. I was checking my breath now and then that night, as I was not sure if I was breathing properly. My food appetite was badly affected after the bad news. We thought Covid-19 was something far off, yet it was knocking on our door. We were affected more psychologically than by the virus.
The question I would like to raise to readers is: are you really ready spiritually and psychologically for the challenges ahead as the virus is spreading more? It is good to take the precaution mechanisms seriously but it is better to get ready for the other scenario as well. What do you know about the virus? What kind of stories are you feeding yourself? We invite you to learn from us.
Can quarantine center be an opportunity to serve others?
After two days or so, my wife got settled at the rehabilitation/quarantine center. Our families and good friends were praying for her and she was experiencing the power of God. She was being comforted and the virus was not hurting her. She tried her best to be the voice of hope in what seemed a desperate situation for many and she was comforting those new comers who came shocked and terrified. Doctors at the center who saw her good communication skill made her a kind of a temporary coordinator to liaise between roommates and the center. As she was recounting these things to me, I asked myself if being in a quarantine center could be an opportunity to serve others.
Complexity – the nature of the virus has more to say about us
I gave sample at ICMC hospital on July 22, 2020 – since EPHI were late to contact me – and learned on July 26 that I was negative. I called the hospital again and again to check every detail and be certain that the result was mine. I also gave another sample at the International Clinical Laboratories again on July 28, 2020 and learned the same thing. I was surprised. How could it be? Let the medical professionals speak on the probabilities though I am certain of God’s intervention. One of the comments I usually hear about the nature of the virus is its complexity and that it is not fully understood even by the medical professionals. I may be wrong and can be corrected here. But this fact (assumed or otherwise) makes me ponder two things – the human condition generally and the latest problems we Ethiopians are facing. The fact of the matter is complex and it demands rigorous learning of facts and unlearning of biases against one another. It also needs more listening, asking the right questions, intentionality, compromise and being sensitive to what others who differ from us hold dearly to understand our situation well and to offer best and long lasting solutions.
Jesus Christ as the ultimate Reality!
Coronavirus is the latest reminder that suffering and death are among the harsh realities of life. Some sell denial of realities in the name of faith by claiming that Christians won’t be affected as long as they have “faith”. But Christ has not lied to us from the very beginning. He said “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble” (John 16: 33, NIV.) And the verse does not end here. He also said “But take heart! I have overcome the world!” This is one of the exciting hopes we have in the gospel of Jesus Christ. But deeper is the fact that we find Jesus Christ in everything in this life and we will meet him after this world as well. He said “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14: 6, NIV). Every reality – both good and bad – points to the one ultimate reality: Jesus Christ the son of God. The harsh realities remind us something serious is wrong with the human condition and we desperately need a redeemer like Him and the good ones point that there is this transcendent source of goodness and life who is Jesus Christ.
High time to revisit Christian Ethics
A believer friend of mine recently made a comment to me about a family we both knew who were passing through a challenge because of Covid-19. I told him how badly the community members were treating the family. He said we didn’t have any choice but to “stigmatize”. It took me minutes to believe he had uttered those words and I tried to remind him that stigma was not an option left especially as Christians. I remembered then how my good Muslim friend reacted when he heard about that family. He visited the family, comforted them and gave them some money. This act of his affirms my belief that goodness is not bounded in the circle of “my religion” only and it dispels any possible bias against followers of other religions. I think covid-19 poses critical psychological challenges: the major one is the stigma experienced by those testing positive. It is important to remember that Man was created in God’s Image (Gen 1:27, NIV). This tells us that any individual – however dire their situation – has value.
Yes, we have to maintain physical distancing, but how do we stand with those friends and families who face challenges because of Covid-19? What does Christian ethics teach us? It is high time we addressed these questions, I think.
How are we now?
My wife was discharged on August 1, 2020 from the center with a certificate of recovery. She now shares her experience with those who are in the same situation as she was. We really thank God for everything and tell others what He does for us so that their hope and faith in Him is more strengthened.
I would like to thank family members, good friends, my colleagues and team members and supporters of the Ethiopian Coaching Network for their willingness to pray for us and to stand with us in everything we needed. May God bless them all!
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1Co 13:13, NIV)