There are reports that during this time of pandemic, the topic of God and eternity is suddenly on many people’s radars.
As the ACR reported back in 1919, “Christianity is something worth having in an emergency”.
The same is true today as it was then. Here, Stephanie Hawkins gives an example of how a Christian might share their experience, or share where they’re at, and how the gospel helps – and use it to invite people to ask questions and seek after the eternal security of the good news of Jesus. We share this example here with her permission.
Each working day, as someone in Christian ministry, I spend hours talking to people and thinking about people.
But since March 16, 2020, I have had physical (that is, non-virtual) face-to-face conversations with probably an average of just one person per day! I’m just sitting at my dining table, on the laptop, in Zoom meetings, video calls, phone calls, messages, and the ever-constant personal reading of God’s word and prayer.
The natural rhythms of my days which used to carry me into the presence of colleagues, students, friends, brothers and sisters, have gone. As I’m naturally an introvert, some of the peace and quiet has been kind of nice. But as many of us have been discovering, the uncertainty about the future, the changes to routine and the absence of the motivating and stimulating interactions of a normal varied week have also been exhausting.
We are so apart. But have you noticed something?
This time of isolation is perhaps bringing us together in the way that only shared suffering does. The 20th century theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer said that we need to learn to view people less in terms of what they do and more in terms of what they have suffered. 
We each are suffering in smaller or greater ways, and we know that those around us are too. Apart, suddenly we are realising how together we are – how much we love each other, how much we need each other, and how little some of our previous worries actually mattered, while the value of relationships has become so glaringly obvious.
Life has been picked up and shaken around. How are you feeling right now? “Heaven knows”, said Charles Dickens, “we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlaying our hard hearts. I was better after I had cried, than before – more sorry, more aware of my own ingratitude, more gentle.”
I do not think I have suffered a great deal in my life thus far, on the spectrum of human grief. But I have cried enough to know this is true. The aftereffect of suffering, the quiet after the storm, can give us clarity, like the washed sky after a thunderstorm. Clarity about ourselves, about what matters. You may just feel frustrated, or you may feel completely overwhelmed – maybe you’ve lost your job, or even lost someone dear to you. Or you are facing months of living with someone with whom the relationship is strained and anxious. Perhaps the uncertainty and background anxiety in this world is a daily niggle that prevents you from being at peace and enjoying the small things while we wait for this crisis to be over. Then there’s the knowledge that we here in Australia are mostly so safe from the ravages this crisis is wreaking upon vulnerable lives in the majority world.
Despite our individual situations, it feels like we’ve been united in suffering.
Maybe as we’ve been brought together, we’ve been exposed to the fragility of each and every human life. To the lack that we all face, to the loneliness we feel so readily.
Sometimes I feel afraid of loneliness. I cried about that on a recent Saturday afternoon as I sat on the oval on the phone to my sister far away in Melbourne.
But could I briefly tell you why I am comforted in this fear?
God has come to us and faced that fear. Jesus Christ died the loneliest death. But not just to tell us to put on a brave face and try harder. Rather He died in place of us, so that we need never be alone, not even now, not even when you eyeball your own immortality.
Love, togetherness, united in our suffering. May you experience unexpectedly the comfort of human kindness during this strange and difficult season. And may you question (you can question me!) and consider the love of the one whose lonely death means you need never be alone.
 Dietrich Bonhoeffer, ‘Letters and Papers from Prison’, in Alia Joy, Glorious Weakness, Baker Books, 2019, p. 145
 Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, Wordsworth Editions Limited, 1992, p. 132