Black skies over Beijing
Beginning at 3 PM, last May 21, as the Chinese Communist Party leaders gathered for their annual meeting in Beijing, an unpredicted weather phenomenon struck: the sky turned black, there was thunder and lightning, heavy rain, followed later by hail. Weather forecast was a pleasant spring day, thus when the day suddenly “turned into night,” surprised city folk took out their cell phones to record the bizarre event.
Next day, raw video clips of the strange occurrence went viral, punctuated by exclamations of bewilderment and disbelief. A life-long resident of Beijing was quoted by Epoch Times thus: “It is an alarm from God… thunder rolling, heavy gale blowing, the sky was very dark. I have never seen this in my life.”
To validate the reports, I searched the most reputable news sources in mainstream media, but found nothing about it whether in regular or breaking news—not even reactions from any of the 5,000 delegates who were attending the meeting. Have the big reports been following the Beijing meeting indoors that they missed the marvel outside? Meanwhile, the videos multiplied and have continued to elicit comments from netizens, alluding to divine justice, seeing the event as a sign of the anger of God or of Allah.
My knee jerk reaction upon seeing one video was, “Omigod, it’s like Good Friday in Beijing! China, you’d better listen up!” And then, “Oh, maybe there was an eclipse, or some volcano erupted and the ashfall blocked the sunlight…” Seeking some logic behind it all, I searched the net again—this time for weather forecasts that may have been overlooked—hoping to find some scientific explanation of the weird happening, but my search yielded nothing.
I therefore searched my memory instead—about plagues in the Bible, the best known of which have found graphic depictions in movies like The Ten Commandments. (If there is one thing this Covid quarantine has done to so many of us it is to remind us to turn to Scriptures when no one else can answer our questions.) Seeing still another video and the article accompanying it which says that the Beijing meeting is reportedly passing, among other things, new laws against Christians in China, I see why many netizens view the weather phenomenon as a sign or warning that God is about to punish China.
For it is indeed true that the government’s crackdown on religion, notably Christianity, has escalated over the past months: pastors and priests are jailed (some of whom are never heard from again), churches are damaged or demolished, crosses are removed, religious images are bashed, bible-themed murals inside the churches are defaced, etc. Early this month, the police renewed their attacks on “jiating” churches (private homes where underground Christian church services are held), arresting members during worship. Can anyone blame them for seeing the black skies over Beijing as a portent of death for Communist China? Beijing has been a monumental baddie and bully, after all, so why wonder if one of these days the punishment may be meted out? The chastisement may have already begun, with the covid pandemic—the truth about which only God knows.
It is tempting to dwell on omens and portents and punishment of others (especially if “others” refers to an evil neighbor) but perhaps it would be a more fruitful exercise to examine our own perception of things. How do we take our present stifling situation that makes us prisoners in our own homes—we cradle Catholics in a country where religious freedom is taken for granted, we spoiled brats who think boredom is an inalienable right and therefore believe that quarantine is a punishment. If it is indeed God’s punishment, who are we then to tell God how or when to punish us? If we believe the punishment comes from God, shouldn’t we also believe that the punishment is an expression of God’s love for us? By punishing us He is reminding us to turn from our wicked ways and to desire to return to Him. God never punishes us to get back at us—He only wants to get us back to His side. And that’s the truth.