This time last year we were experiencing the longest bull stock market in history, 11 years, from 2009 until early 2020.

“I wonder what will end it,” I thought to myself. After all, all good things come to an end. Something has to give. What will be the precipitating event?

I must admit, I hadn’t considered a worldwide plague. We’ve now all been there, done that. May 2020 rest in peace.

The Spanish Flu is our best comparison, which is estimated to have killed 675,000 people in the United States in 1918-19. That was one out of every 154 people.  The average age of death was 28 years old.

So far, Covid-19 has killed 336,642 or one out of every 980 people. The average age of death was 80.

In terms of life years, the Spanish Flu was  probably 30 times worse than Covid-19. It could have been a lot, lot worse. Every dark cloud has a silver lining.

No doubt there are more Covid-19 deaths to come, but some powerful vaccines are on the way. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control estimates almost a third of the U. S. population has already been infected. Herd immunity is within sight. There is an end to this dark, dark tunnel.

I was born an optimist. That’s just the way I am. I feel like we faced one of the great fears of mankind and survived. That gives me confidence about the future.

 There have been many horror movies about some rapid-spreading virus wiping out humanity. Well, it didn’t wipe out humanity, not even close. And now we have some powerful new vaccine weapons in our arsenal.

For a virus to do this much damage, it had to be in the sweet spot of viruses. Not too deadly to be contained, yet deadly enough to wreak havoc. Covid-19 was in that sweet spot.

How do you contain a virus that causes no symptoms in half the people it infects? There’s no way, despite our best efforts.

We tried the locking down. It was supposed to be two weeks, but turned into two months. I was impressed at how well our society did its best to contain this plague. Lots of good citizenry.

But when we came back out, it was still there. Our economy was in shambles. Disruption in our lives was causing one shutdown death for every two Covid deaths. Suicide and overdose deaths skyrocketed. People were afraid to get treatment at hospitals for cancer and heart conditions. The shutdowns were a mess.

So we went back to work and did our best, masks and all.

The vaccines are coming just as the virus has mutated and become even more contagious, even as its fatality rate drops to a fifth of what it was in the beginning.

Our hospitals were pushed to their limits, but they stood the test, powered by tens of thousands of brave doctors, nurses and hospital staff. What a heroic feat.

Our nation, indeed the world, faced one of the greatest apocalyptically horrible scenarios imaginable and we survived. Many of our elderly loved ones were denied some of the last years of their lives. And some of our younger citizens died as well, but our society and economy are still strong.

Befitting a free nation, there was a vigorous debate about the deadliness of the virus and how we should respond as a society. Some wanted to shut down permanently until a vaccine came. Others believed the shutdowns were causing more harm than the virus itself.

In the end, there was legitimacy to both sides of the debate. As a whole, the nation muddled through as best we could, trying to contain the virus through social action while still preserving our economy. It was a work in progress.

God works in mysterious ways. The new vaccines may end up saving far more lives in the near future than were lost during this past year. We may be on the cusp of winning our war with the viral hordes.

Which doesn’t mean humans should give up trying to solve the world’s problems. God has given us the responsibility to be good stewards of the planet. God doesn’t want to do it all himself. He wants a relationship with his creation. Working with God, in prayerful devotion, love, fear and respect, there is nothing humanity can’t overcome.

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