Federal officials with Operation Warp Speed hope that about 50 million people will have received their first of two shots of a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of January, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said recently. To me, this news is a breath—a sigh—from God who will use humanity, specifically science, to bring about His ongoing plan, His greater good. Incidentally, this Greater Good isn’t that everyone is happy and worry-free first, foremost and always; this Great Good is that we know God and trust God not now and again but always. When we know God and trust God not now and again but always, we do become joyful (which is far deeper and long lasting) and worry-free.
Some of us do worry, however. While Operation Warp Speed is (and maybe isn’t always) moving at warp speed, it’s interesting that some of us are not cheerleading the arrival of this vaccine. I can’t support the following as hard datum, but the following is more than a hunch. Some people think if you get the COVID-19 vaccine, you’ll get sick. Others are afraid and distrusting of the government. Still others think COVID-19 is bogus.
“You can’t fix stupid,” is a saying I have heard from people who should know that you can meet the needs of each individual when sweeping statements are silenced and attentive listening, compassion and care are applied. Specifically, some of us do have concerns about getting the shot. Some of us are afraid and distrusting of government. As for those who still think COVID-19 is bogus, those who are prayerful know that we never run out of things to lift to God in prayer. Our prayers are that you see this harrowing, life-robbing pandemic as something not only real but also very, very dangerous.
There is another danger here, and it’s far more subtle than the shot itself. I want to speak for a moment to those who currently do not want to get this shot and those who are baffled as to why someone would choose to potentially put themselves in grave danger and, heaven forbid, if they were to get the virus, the lives of so many others would be put in potential harm.
Here’s the deal. Talking to a loved one about getting the shot IS the loving act to do. And let’s look at this closely. It is Christian act of love to gently and lovingly encourage an anti-shot person to get the vaccine because, Christian or not, the shot is our line of defense against even greater harm.
It’s often an uphill battle to convince someone that a deeply held view is flawed because human beings are wedded to our own biases. If you’re a new mom who believes vaccines cause autism, for example, do you dig into research that investigates whether or not vaccines do cause autism, or do you Google “vaccines cause autism” and, presto, to find stories to affirm your belief? The answer is likely the latter. This is driven by “motivated reasoning,” which is our psychological tendency to perpetuate our own beliefs while dismissing any information that runs against our own views. This can also be called an information bias.
I do hope that information like the following helps us realize how God is at work in this shot. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, warned the country could reach 450,000 fatalities before February 1, days short of the one-year anniversary of the first known COVID-19 death in the USA.
Get the shot. Some of you may have been wondering when in this column I’d get to what truly needs to be said. Get. The. Shot. If you don’t want to spare or save yourself (and you and I should talk about this), then do it for the guy you breathe on when you have COVID-19.
When a longstanding professional shared with me that my eligibility put me, a pastor, higher on the list to get vaccinated, I am going to say that as soon as I could see the night stars, I looked to heaven, raised both arms Rocky style, and cheered, “Amen!”
Get the shot. As importantly, give praise to God. Yes, there are scientists who are not God-minded, or, being the optimist I am, I should say are not God-minded yet, but you don’t have to be a believer for God to use you. In the days and weeks to come, join me in thanking God for answering the billion or so prayers that have been raised that have asked the Maker of the night stars to give us the way to stop, or at least significantly reduce, this pandemic.
God hears our prayers. Also pray for more and more of us to get this vaccination.