A Tale of Two Disasters

Whether or not you are critical of our government’s handling of the pandemic, you would have to agree that for Britain, Covid-19 has spelt disaster. Whilst I’m proud of our world-leading contribution to the vaccine and treatment programmes, our death toll is a staggering 63,000 and counting…

The Bible story of Joseph in Egypt tells us how, through a young Hebrew slave, a disaster was averted. We read that ‘God was with him’, and that he was listened to. What if we swapped the two stories around?

Egypt, 1700 BC

The Prime Minister bowed low, prostrating himself before taking a deep, deep breath.

“Yes?” Pharoah looked down at him sharply and intensely, his face hard as granite. The Prime Minister gradually raised his eyes to meet Pharoah’s gaze. This was the moment he’d been dreading.

“We’ve…there’s no easy way to say this. The grain stores will be empty within a month. There’s no more grain left. The Nile isn’t going to overflow so it won’t irrigate the land this year. And it failed last year. We can’t grow any more food…”

Pharoah erupted in fury and desperation. But his fury was partly at his own stupidity. Why hadn’t he heeded the young Hebrew’s advice? Instead, he’d consulted his experts, his wise men and magicians. Some urged him to build large new silos as the Hebrew had advised. Others argued that, with Egypt’s expertise and sound economy, it should easily survive a year of crop failure. In the end no clear decision had emerged. No-one had done anything. They’d eaten their fill during seven bumper years and then, in a token gesture of caution, had filled their existing grain stores to capacity.

But now, ‘to capacity’ was nowhere near enough. From that point onwards, the ground lay parched and cracked. Egypt was on its knees. In desperation, people survived by catching and roasting frogs and rats. Hundreds of thousands starved to death.

Imagine this scenario

Westminster – January, 2020 AD

Nigel had begun his day as usual, asking God to nudge him as he worked. He often reflected that being a civil servant in the Health Department was hardly a high-profile role in God’s kingdom. 

As Nigel sipped his morning coffee, he couldn’t get that email out of his mind. It was from a Dr. Matthew Robinson who called himself a Coronavirologist. Dr. Robinson urgently wanted to meet the Health Minister. Nigel’s job involved sifting through countless emails and letters from crackpots. But this one stood out. As he drained his cup, he picked up the telephone and alerted his boss. A week later, Dr. Robinson arrived in London. Struggling at first to overcome his stammer, he eventually found his voice. His message was clear.

“This disease has the potential to devastate life as we know it. It could sweep through our entire population, overwhelming hospitals, leaving hundreds of thousands dead, and bringing our economy to its knees. It will be the most vulnerable who are hit the hardest.

“There’s no time to lose. Wuhan today will be London tomorrow. We need to start planning immediately. Do everything possible to avoid this virus coming into the country and seize on it the moment it arrives. Do an immediate inventory of our equipment. Get the very best advice from those countries in the Far East who’ve dealt with these epidemics before…and, you need one man to direct the operation. Put him fully in charge…”  


They did the next best thing. Dr. Robinson was appointed Chief Advisor to the newly appointed Minister for Coronavirus.

In this version of events, Britain is highly commended for the way it has controlled the virus and limited the damage it inflicted.

Will it one day emerge that God tried to warn us, just as He warned the Egyptians about their impending famine?

John Hearson

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