Editor's Note: On April 9, 2022, my Shanghai Christian friend Karen was diagnosed with COVID-19. Believers who knew her began to pray for her spontaneously. She was admitted to the mobile cabin hospital in the early morning on the 13th, then first tested negative on the 18th, and was discharged from the hospital on the 21st. In this process, she reflected on her Christian faith, life, and death and gained in-depth insights.
Through a video call, she shared the following two aspects. The first one was her personal experience and gains in the mobile cabin hospital after being diagnosed with coronavirus. The second one was her reflection on life and her insight on the mission of the church.
The following is a summary of Karen’s sharing told from her perspective:
I was infected with the virus on April 9. The day before I worked late and felt very tired. I had a fever the next day, which I thought was caused by my work fatigue. Antipyretics were not available in Shanghai at that time. Later I got some cold medicine from a neighbor downstairs, with which I became much better on the third and fourth days. The nucleic acid tests did not come out during those days. On the 12th, I participated in an online memorial service for a deceased Christian sister. Unexpectedly, after the service was finished, the Shanghai Municipal Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Shanghai CDC) called me, saying that I was found to have a COVID-19 positive.
I looked back on my physical symptoms. In theory, antigens are usually not detectable for a few days after infection, but rather they can be detected in the next 2-3 days. Being a relatively timid person, I Ghad an emotional breakdown while waiting to be transferred to the hospital. Thinking that I would live in a venue with thousands of unknown people, and with no acquaintance that could accompany me there, I hardly slept that day.
Afterward, I was told that I would stay in the cabin for a week, which was a big challenge for me since everything was uncertain. There were many believers praying for me here in Shanghai, which was very useful.
At that time, I myself read a verse: "The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. " (Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV) My heart then slowly became peaceful.
It was raining in Shanghai that day, for which I was informed that I wouldn’t be transferred to the makeshift hospital. But soon after I prayed and felt restful, I was instructed otherwise and arrived at the hospital at 1 am. I was very grateful that I was assigned to a four-person room where we wore masks all the time. I was thankful to be able to have a full night's sleep there.
I recalled my previous life experiences. Back then there were nearly 300,000 local confirmed cases and asymptomatic infections in Shanghai. Being one of 300,000 infected people, I felt a sense of connection with them, which became an experience of getting to know Shanghai people.
In the cabin hospital, I sensed the protection and grace of God. For example, we had to get up at 5-6 am for PCR tests and then had breakfast, followed by a lunch break at noon, and finally went to bed at 9 pm. This daily routine helped me overcome my problem of not being able to manage my time well for nearly ten years, which fulfilled my wish. Lunch and dinner were both very good. To improve our immunity, we got to eat two meat and two vegetarian dishes at each meal, which in fact, was much better than what we could have when being isolated at home.
Personally, I felt unsettled when experiencing hardships. But a sister encouraged me with the words, "In tribulation, there must be God's grace, which you can find with your own eyes." I spent Easter in the cabin hospital where I listened to the church's Easter sermons and spent the whole week with the expectation that "the difficulties will end".
Reflection and takeaway on faith
I thought a great deal about life and faith during the week in the cabin. One question, in particular, came to mind: When I was suffering, where were you, God?
This is a question many people have asked. In fact, most of the time we want to avoid suffering, but God will reject our prayers for refusing to experience pain. When one asks God in this way, they may have a very vague understanding of Him. In fact, Jesus was crucified on the cross. Our God is suffering all the time, for which our human heart is closer to Him in suffering. Since God created the heavens, the earth, and human beings, He has been suffering. Others trying to comfort us are often of little use. The most important thing is to find comfort in Jesus' love and sacrifice.
During my stay in the cabin, I also thought about the importance of the soul to a human being. When things are going well, we can’t see the vitality of faith. When in the midst of trouble, we will know that money may be useless, but the power of faith is useful. The soul is very noble and needs to grow in the love of God.
When our society emphasizes the power of spirituality, the dignity of human nature, that people need to be loved, understood, and respected, it will become healthier. Because we are created in the image of God, it is easy for us to become bitter in pain.
Believers will also experience suffering. We may also be infected with coronavirus, but the grace of God that we have can dissolve the bitterness in our hearts. When no one helps us, we still have the grace of God in us.
From my own experience, I also thought about the important mission of the church in today's situation. The church is the spiritual home of human beings, and it has the authority of the resurrection. In times of hardship, we need the church very much. When in pain, we can take off many masks and disguises, so our hearts are very good and pure. Usually, we are busy with children and careers. Yet when we are in pain and despair, our hearts are open, and we will truly seek God. The pain of our souls needs to be comforted and healed by God. I myself have received much spiritual support from the church. The church should know that this is an opportunity to share the gospel with those who are poor in spirit. Because Jesus gave spiritual authority to the church, it has become its mission.
- Translated by Shuya Wang