by Leow Yew Chong 

Since 18 March 2020, many of us have not  been able to go about our daily routine  due to the Movement Control Order  (MCO) and Conditional Movement Control  Order (CMCO) which were imposed by the authorities in an attempt to flatten the curve of COVID-19 infection. Every passing week we read of  the government imposing compounds and jail terms  for violators. And a new meaning for dining-in was  created i.e., FINE DINING, when one receives a  RM1,000 compound.  

Also, during these past few months, over the social  media we saw how the population copes with the  MCO with the various improvised songs including a  rap version of the Prime Minister’s admonishment, funny TikTok videos, etc. Some people are definitely  having fun.  

However, there is also an increase in domestic vio lence, breakdown and divorce rates among the mar ried (Malay Mail 25 Aug 2020, CNA 15 Apr 2020).  This coupled with the mounting deaths due to the  COVID-19 infection brought about an outpouring of  grief especially when the surviving loved ones could n’t even have a last glimpse of their departed loved ones. Death by suicide from 18 March 2020 to 30 Oct  2020 was 266 or about 1 person a day according to  the Malaysian Police’s statistics (The Sun 23 Nov  2020), a very horrifying situation in the country which  officially have a very, very low death rate by suicide. 

Therefore, the pent-up emotions due to the quarantine  caused some to have a momentary outburst of pleas urable creativity; some, deep sorrow due to the loss of  loved ones; some, uncertainty of their financial future;  for others, dissolution of relationships and deepening  of illnesses. All in all, we are trapped in the lockdown. 

Now in a similar way, SIN locks us in its house. Jesus  said whoever commits sin is a slave to sin (John 8:34).  Slaves don’t have freedom – freedom of movement,  freedom to act, everything is confined. We became its  slave i.e. foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy,  hateful and hating one another (Titus 3:3). Please note the phrase “serving various lusts” meant that being a  glutton or drunk, is serving its lust. We allow the feel ing of hunger to overcome the need to fulfill our bodily  needs of nourishment, and covet whatever the eyes  see. With regards to food offered to idols, a glutton  will ignore his brethren’s conscience and thus destroy  the faith of weak brethren (1 Cor 8). 

Sin, the scripture reminds us has its pleasure. Moses  chose to suffer affliction with the people of God than to  enjoy the passing pleasures of sin (Heb 11:25). So,  please do not be deceived that sin only cause pain  and death. There’s pleasure in it, albeit fleeting. A drug  addict or user of amphetamine will tell us that on consuming the drug, a sensational feeling envelopes the  user. All senses are heightened and pleasures multi plied manifold. Yet it will pass away, and when it does,  the feeling of despondency, hopelessness and even  guilt flies in. Hence the addict is trapped to desire  pleasures again and again until death takes his life.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and the MCO/CMCO  lockdown, we read in newspapers how some resorted  to crime, shoplifting to feed their young ones because  they don’t have the money to purchase milk powder  (The Star 8 Aug 2019) or to prostitute themselves so  that they can put food on the table (SAYS 27 Sep  2018). This year is even worse economically with more  people suffering financially and having shrinking or  zero savings. The need to have sufficient money and overwhelming fear of not having any is distorting how  many perceive the importance of money.  

SIN, similarly distorts our mind and thinking by sug gesting having money at whatever cost and means is  the sole purpose of life. The above two examples illus trate the point. However the truth of the matter is that  God as the creator of the universe and giver of life, can  provide for us in whatever circumstances we are in.  The widow of Zarephath (1 Kings 17:8-16) and the wife  of the sons of the prophet (2 Kings 4:1-7) are two very  good examples of God’s providence in time of difficul ties. SIN wants us to have the love of money to draw  one away from God and put $$$ in the throne of our  heart, to secure our future on this earth. We must be  on-guard from this (1John 5:21). 

Briefly, I have shown similarities of the quarantine we  faced in 2020, the effects thereof and how SIN entraps  us by drawing us away from God. Therefore, we must  be alert and aware of our own state of mind. The need  to examine ourselves whether we are drifting away is  so, so important. God reminds us in 1 Cor 11:28-32 – 

“But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of  the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and  drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For  this reason many are weak and sick among you, and  many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we would  not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.” 

If we examine ourselves and judge ourselves on a regular basis, we might not find ourselves in dire straits.  SIN lies at the doorstep and its desire is for us (Gen  4:7). Pray therefore frequently, read the Bible daily,  seek out and help brethren whose hands and knees  are fainting because in so doing we straighten our own  path in our journey to heaven (Heb 12:12-13).