Lessons in the Midst of a Pandemic

We are all living in quite a remarkable time in history. The sudden emergence of COVID-19 has had an impact on the lives of each one of us, whether it be big or small. Anywhere from losing our jobs, to the inconvenience of stores being closed, the sickness or losing of a loved one, to the fear, panic, and uncertainty that it has brought. Still even in the midst of this dark season of life, with the uncertainty of the future hovering over us each and every day, I think there is much to be gleaned and thankful for. Here are some things that I’m learning, remembering, and thinking on currently.

COVID-19 has reminded us that we are not in control of our lives or our future

Before this virus hit, many of us went about our daily lives. We worked, shopped, ate, drank, and lived, not imagining in our wildest dreams that there was something coming that would interrupt everything. Now, just a few months later, our entire lives has been shifted. Our well beings have been questioned. The things we put our hope and security in don’t feel that hopeful or secure at all anymore. I think it has reminded me, and hopefully you, that we are not in control of our lives, or are futures. In Proverbs 16:9 it says “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.” We can plan our future, live in our present, but only God knows truly what will materialize in our lives. I think more than ever, this virus, has allowed us to step back and see how little control we have. 

COVID-19 has reminded us that life is finite and shorter than we’d like it be

If I would have asked you before this pandemic hit, how long you thought you’d live, I’m sure a lot of you would have said a long time. The hope I think for all of us would be that we would live a long and healthy life. COVID-19 though has interrupted that perspective, and instead reminded us of how finite life is. To put it into perspective, since the first presumed Corona Virus case on November 17th, 2019, according to https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/ there have been 393,284 cases worldwide resulting in 17,161 deaths. It’s easy to look at numbers and see already that that is an alarming amount, but let’s break it down further. Each one of those 17,161 people who died were individuals. Individuals with families, dreams, jobs, friends, and in a matter of a few short months, their lives were over. James writes in James 4:13-14, “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Our lives here on earth, as James writes, are but a vapor, a mist, that comes and goes. We cannot live as though we have tomorrow, for tomorrow may never come, and sadly this is the reality for many of our brothers and sisters around the world.

COVID-19 has reminded us that we take for granted things and people that we should be consistently grateful for

I recently took a trip to Hawaii to visit my best friend and his wife, and just to enjoy some vacation and rest. It was a much needed trip as I was very burnt out. And when you’re burnt out and tired, it is very easy to find fault and complain about a myriad of things. One of the great and unexpected benefits of the trip though was that I began to appreciate things again, and remember just how truly blessed I was. For me, leaving Hawaii was not difficult; I was ready to be back home. To be back in church, in small group, and other activities that I had seen as a burden beforehand. By the time I returned home though, the Corona virus was in full swing. Our church and small groups could no longer meet in person because of the health risks that it brought. Stores closed. People were laid off. Thankfully, I am still able to work from home and function fairly normal. But as I’ve been processing the changes that have taken place in my daily life, and the lives of those around me, I thought back to all the times that I have skipped small group and/or church, and how if I had known this virus was coming, would have I missed all those times? When church and small group were readily available I took them for granted, but now that they aren’t easily accessible, I realize just how precious and important they truly were, and I miss them a lot.

COVID-19 has reminded us of the depravity and selfishness of man

If you turn on the tv, or walk into any store, you can see the present chaos. For example, I walked into Sam’s at one in the afternoon last Friday to find 300 people there grabbing up all kinds of supplies. So many supplies in fact that entire shelves were empty. I was at the register waiting in line, looking around at the scene before me, and I noticed a middle aged wealthy looking man who had brought up with him two huge things of toilet paper. He rang up one, but then, the self check out would not let him ring up another. You could tell that he was visibly upset as he motioned to the attendant nearest him, who then informed him that he was only able to buy one thing of toilet paper at a time. I watched him as he got more and more angry, and eventually took his toilet paper, and left the line. This is just one of the many examples of what is happening in our country currently. In times of crisis, people begin to fend for themselves and themselves only. This is the depravity of man on full display. Not to say that there aren’t good things, and people helping out in this time of need, but that overall, we as a people are only concerned about ourselves and our assets and well beings, so much so that stores have had to start implementing rules of one of each item per customer, and setting aside certain hours for senior citizens to shop. Aside from the shopping aspect, my generation, since we are not affected as much by the virus, has continued to live our lives as though nothing is going on, congregating together, and going out in groups, even in spite of the health risks to others that we pose.

COVID-19 has revealed how much we are truly afraid of that which we don’t know

What is one word that could describe this pandemic that we all experience? Fear. And it is very pervasive throughout our country and world at the moment. Some cope with this by staying constantly plugged into the news and the sources that are ever changing, wanting to be on top of all the latest chatter. Others cope by disregarding all warnings to self isolate, and continue to go on about their daily lives. Others cope by joking about all that is going on, and thinking to themselves this will not happen to me. Others cope by being super cautious and guarded, not even leaving the house for fear of being infected. Deep down though, below all these coping mechanisms though, there is fear. Fear that we could be next. Fear that we have no clue what is going on. Fear that someone we love may be infected or even pass away. This virus has brought about so much fear in our country and world.

COVID-19 has provided the Church with a very tangible way to share the Gospel of Christ to an unsaved World

I believe that every person comes to a point in their life where they realize that they cannot do life on their own, and at this point, they have two choices. They can surrender, or they can keep on trying to do life on their own. For some, it takes some really difficult circumstances to show them that they are in need of something or someone greater than themselves. While this virus is terribly awful and horrific, it has provided an amazing opportunity for us as the church to share the hope of the Gospel with a scared and reeling world. Many are coming to the place now, maybe for the first time ever, that their future is uncertain, that their control on life is non-existant, and that the things that they have placed their hope in are actually not secure at all. Now is the time for us as the Church of Christ to be the Church. Now is the time to share with those that while the loss of our jobs, the dwindling of food, the uncertainty of the future, and the fear of the loss of our lives is terribly frightening, that we have a God who is in control, who we can put our hope in, even in the midst of the storm. Now is the time to serve those who are hurting, and love on those who are needy. We have such a great opportunity here to truly be the hands and feet of Jesus, and to do so while proclaiming the restorative power of the Gospel of Christ.

COVID-19 has reminded us how much we need others

This time period in history, we are more divided maybe than we have ever been. But now more than ever, we need each other. We may not be able to be face to face in person with each other all the time like we used to, but now, more than ever, we need to be intentionally reaching out to each other in the midst of this difficult time. This is hard. It’s upsetting. Angering. Annoying. Inconvenient. Heartbreaking. And we need to be able to talk about it. So do. Talk about your fears, your hurts, your disappointments. Talk about your sick loved ones, and your jobs that you have been laid off from. Love on each other, serve one another. Self isolate, but don’t completely isolate. We need each other.

COVID-19 has reminded us that God can use anything to transform the hearts of His people

Many times in the midst of pain and confusion we ask the question “why.” Why? Because we want understanding. We want things to make sense. Because if there is no understanding, and there is no sense, then there is frustration. As my pastor put it on Sunday, we would never choose to write pain or suffering into our stories, but many times it is in that pain and suffering that our hearts are transformed. We may not know what the purpose of this virus is, or why all these people are dying, or why now, or why here, but we can be certain of one thing, that in this pain, suffering, and uncertainty that we currently face, that God is doing a work in us to uproot sin in our lives, to challenge the fears and distrust that we have towards Him, and to truly transform our hearts so that we may know Him more.

COVID-19 has provided us with an opportunity to “Be still, and know that I am God.”

Our world is usually a very busy place with people rushing here and there and yonder. Restaurants, cities, buildings, and streets are usually teeming with people. Meetings are happening on the hourly, dates, coffee meet ups, etc. Now, everything is pretty quiet. Streets are fairly empty, shops and restaurants are closed except for take out and drive through. Churches are closed. Small groups are cancelled. Most people are working from home, or are no longer working. Schools are out. And it is all very unsettling. But what if we looked at things from a different perspective. What if all this was an opportunity to slow down? What if this time is for quiet? For thinking deeply? For reading? Resting? For spending time with family that we wouldn’t have otherwise? Even though this time is quiet, we can still redeem it. I’m planning on finishing up my M-DIV during this time. Maybe for you it’s about mending a relationship. Or growing deeper in your relationship with Christ. Or realizing for the first time that you need Christ in your life. Or learning a skill, or enjoying a hobby. What would God have you to learn in the quietness of this season of life? Don’t let this time go to waste. Use it purposefully and intentionally.

COVID-19 has reminded us God is still in control even when we cannot see Him

Lastly, I want to remind us that inspite of everything, God is still in control. Mark writes in Mark 4:35-41On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

We many times, like the disciples, at the first sign of trouble, question the power and love of God. I know many of us are asking this question right now. How could God truly love me if he allowed me to lose my job? How could He truly care if he let’s my loved one die from this virus? How could he truly be in control as it seems that this world is in chaos? These are all good questions, and okay questions to ask. It’s okay to wrestle with God in this, but it is also good to know that He is in control, that He loves us, and that He is working all things for our good. It is in this place, if we will surrender our doubts, anger, frustrations, and confusions to Him, that we may find rest.

Conclusion

I hope that this blog post was an encouragement to you as we all try to work through these uncertain times together. I hope that you will be encouraged that even in the midst of our fears, and our uncertainties, that we have a God who loves us, who cares for us, who is in control, and who is working all things for our good. I will leave you with a word of encouragement.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30). 

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Blessings.