Today is Good Friday, Sunday is Easter. These holidays will be celebrated in ways that are completely foreign to today’s Christians. But Christians will nevertheless celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus as they and the rest of the world look for a more worldly resurrection.
According to some estimates, roughly half the world is under a COVID-19 lockdown. It’s a radical step governments have chosen to stop the spread of the disease. But with every change in public policy, there are unavoidable, and often unintended consequences.
Under the COVID-19 lockdowns, people are frustrated by having their freedom of movement restricted; they’ve been unable to assemble at theaters, concerts, sporting events, restaurants, and houses of worship; workers are losing jobs, some of them permanently; businesses are closing for good; and a recession might already be here.
The world isn’t dead, but it is looking for a mortal resurrection.
Last week, 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment, taking the three-week total to almost 17 million. Some analysts see the numbers rising further rather than falling or going flat. Moody’s Analytics expects the jobless numbers to hit “staggering” highs in the near future.
Small businesses are hurting and many have already locked their doors for the last time. A U.S. Chamber of Commerce survey of owners tells us that nearly a quarter of small businesses believe that they can be closed a maximum of two months before the shutdown becomes permanent. Many say their window is open for only a month.
Globally, some believe we are already in “a recession deeper and more painful than initially expected.” The World Trade Organization expects international trade to fall by at least 13% and as much as 32% in 2020. Ian Goldin, an Oxford University professor, recently wrote in the New York Times that the economic crisis could eclipse “that of 2008.”
Meanwhile, more than 1.6 million have been infected worldwide by the Wuhan coronavirus, and nearly 95,000 have died, says Worldometer.
We’ve seen reports that some European nations are relaxing their lockdowns. At the same time, restrictions are being extended in the United Kingdom.
The day in April when many of us thought – hoped – the U.S. would return to normalcy hasn’t arrived. But Attorney General William Barr indicated Wednesday that by May there might be some relief from the “draconian” restrictions we’ve been dealing with. The expectation is that we act like adults and make good decisions without government hovering over us.
Yet we’re still in early April, and hundreds of millions of huddled individuals across the world are yearning to breathe free. They want to go back to work, to travel freely, to gather again in large groups, to help pull the economy out of its hole – to be delivered from this crisis.
It’s unlikely to happen on Easter. Equally as improbable is a Passover pilgrimage to a secular promised land. But just as the Hebrews were given hope by the prophesies of Isaiah, the world needs to keep hope alive. Things might look dark now, but better days are ahead, and it would be a shame to lose sight of that, especially at this time of the year.
— Written by the I&I editorial board