As our nation slowly begins to open up and restrictions eased, those who have lost loved ones to COVID-19, or battled it themselves scream that it’s too soon. It is believed that asymptomatic people are not obeying social distancing guidelines and are still spreading it everywhere. Understandable. Yet those not ill and who have lost substantial income and are unable to pay bills demand that the economy re-open. Understandable. Ranting and judgement dominate social media. Once again, our nation is sick, not only with COVID-19, but division. Divided by Covid-19 and racism. Yelling and right-fighting won’t help anyone or anything.
Rather than criticize those not wearing a face mask in public, we need to extend grace and trust God to do the appropriate judging. No amount of anger or bitterness is going to change God’s plan in all of this, whether it’s racism or a pandemic. “Despite the way things look, I am in control, and I’m accomplishing My purposes in ways you cannot understand. Though the world is deeply fallen, it’s possible to live in it with Joy and Peace in your heart,” writes Sarah Young in Jesus Always, who writes in first person perspective of God.
All of us have suffered during this pandemic at some level, and rather than be angry or bitter about being “stuck at home,” we must ask ourselves what we have learned from being in quarantine and what we can do differently should we be quarantined again. Reading Facebook postings of other moms who are trying to work from home without childcare and lamenting their woes from this pandemic breaks my heart because I can totally relate to dealing with bored, restless kids who don’t understand why we can’t go anywhere or do anything fun.
Have we used our isolation time wisely?
Our response to trials, crisis, or pain, reveals our true character. I have wrestled with my own weaknesses. Fear. Self-pity. Despair. My husband is a Des Moines Mercy Paramedic. He learned in early April that his exposure to Covid-19 would be guaranteed, especially in Polk County, where we live. It was a difficult reality to accept. We discussed the plan for how we would cope when he would be out of commission for hopefully no more than a couple of weeks. He has never been afraid of illness because he’s healthy with no pre-existing conditions, and he has brought crud from work to home before. Why should this virus be any different? Yet the possibility of bringing home Covid-19 has weighed heavily on his mind with more than a few sleepless nights. I prayed Psalm 91 over him several times throughout April and May, asking God to protect him from Covid-19. He’s been exposed only twice so far. Tested twice. Negative both times. Testing of faith. One day at a time. Wow. And yet, I’m also troubled by the fact that hundreds of other health care workers have lost their lives to the virus, and grieve for them, feeling the injustice.
What if God and the Satan had a conversation about the world? Job 1:6-12 describes one such conversation they had regarding Job. Satan suggested to God that Job was a righteous and Godly man only because God had richly blessed him. God did not challenge Satan on this and allowed Satan to test him. And what was Job’s response? At first he continued to worship God. Then he got angry, as we would too, when Satan stripped away his health and wealth. But in the end, Job had a personal revelation with God, and that is what quieted him. God’s presence. God doesn’t always answer all of our “whys,” but in Job, we learn how to suffer, and we learn that God is God and we are not. God returned and restored all of Job’s health and prosperity. Keep in mind that God has Satan on a short leash until the second coming of Christ, who will make all things new and abolish all evil. Keep in mind that God created a perfect world from the beginning. We are the ones who screw it up when we choose to sin. God does not cause evil, but God does use evil to bring about greater good. (Romans 8:28). We have no idea of the conversations that take place in the Heavenlies.
And there are so many reasons to thank God during this pandemic. Workers previously unrecognized for the valuable way in which they contribute to society have been lifted up and appreciated. We are no longer elevating professional athletes, actors or entertainers to God-like status. We are ALL essential workers, from grocery store employees to stock shelvers to stockholders, managers, artists, bankers, clergy, mail-carriers, farmers and dairy producers and stay-at-home moms, Housekeeping employees – we are ALL essential. We are all in this together! If public school teachers and nurses earned the same salary as professional athletes, our Democracy would no longer be on life support. They are the backbone of a healthy democratic society. We are all essential workers whose work and talent are woven together into a beautiful tapestry called loving our community.
Technology has connected us in amazing ways. “Zoom meeting” has now become a common household term for anyone working from home, not just for the elite white-collar class. I have re-connected with friends I hadn’t seen in three years, talked to my son’s kindergarten teacher, held play dates, prayer meetings and Bible studies through zoom. Churches have by no means closed, but have adapted beautifully by offering services entirely on-line. From Genesis to Revelation, God’s will is revealed everywhere, and one of the things He wants is to reach every human being who will repent of all sin and accept His unconditional love. So those who have previously been reluctant to step inside a church, for a multitude of reasons, have been able to quietly tune in on-line. Churches are reporting massive numbers who are tuning in. Rather than grumble and complain about my kids’ constant interruptions while watching a service on-line, I must remind myself this pandemic is not about me, and I must praise God for how He has been using this pandemic for furthering His Kingdom. And may I add one more gem? Pureflix has fantastic new mini-series, “The Chosen,” about the life of Jesus and his followers. Produced and acted in a most unusual, different way, creator Dallas Jenkins, explains that he felt the Lord leading him to do this now, for a time such as this. Season One. Binge watch.
We have learned that God created us for community, and when that is taken away for the higher purposes of isolating ourselves, we suffer. Depression, fear and anxiety are running as rampant as COVID-19. Mental health professionals and therapists are frantically trying to keep up. We are local. We are national. We are global. What happens in Wuhan China affects the entire world. A tiny microbe has brought almost every nation to its knees! Rather than boast of indestructible greatness, we must recognize and understand our vulnerabilities and work together. Rather than cling to money and power, we must appreciate how fragile and precious life is.
When are we going to come to ourselves, and realize that the devil has been messing with us? It’s time for a review lesson. If the quarantine has been a test to measure our true character, grit, determination, creativity, endurance and coping with the unknown; to measure our faith and spiritual growth, what would be our score? Yikes! When I was a student, I was always afraid to look at my test scores because I’m terrified of failure. But I have developed some gratitude in how God uses challenges and trials and disasters to reveal what I need to spend time in prayer working on. Rather than be angry about circumstances and beg God to change them, I’m learning to pray for understanding and wisdom through circumstances, that I may grow in the areas where God leads me. One day at a time. Eventually I’ll pass this test.