Opportunity of the Times
As a viral pandemic sweeps through our country, we are slowly realizing that we are in completely uncharted territory. I teach at a school, and like many people in our church, I’m looking down the barrel of at least six weeks of a completely new and challenging experience. How will we find childcare? How are we going to ensure that our kids keep learning? How are we going to ensure that our kids don’t go crazy and kill each other? If everything (school, church gatherings, the gym, my favorite restaurant, the YMCA, my place of work) gets closed and canceled, how are we going to handle it? What about job security? What am I going to do in a semi-quarantined and isolated society?
All good, valid questions. And you may already have some decent answers lined up. But the main hallmark of this time is uncertainty, and when it comes down to it, everyone is in the same boat: we really don’t know what’s going to happen. And that feeling of helplessness is scary, aggravating, and probably not exactly normal for you. Given six-plus weeks of drastically altered, totally unpredictable life, what are you going to do?
What an opportunity an unknown, volatile situation is for the people of God.
There are so many chances to grow more like Jesus right now. We need to be purposeful over the next few weeks.
Here’s what could happen if you’re not careful: you could spend the next month or two simply reacting to a changing situation, endlessly thinking and talking about the same topics: what has happened, what will happen, and how everything really should have been handled differently. You could revert to survival mode, gritting it out and just trying to get through another day with the kids. Or another day trying to be productive as you work from home again. Or another day of being relatively alone, as things close down or cancel and isolation becomes easier and harder at the same time. You could wind up spending way too much time in the downward spiral of social media, rehashing the same basic thoughts and over-digested anger. And eventually these weeks will be over and things will open back up and you might think, “We made it through, but we just survived. We didn’t thrive. We didn’t build the Kingdom. We didn’t really grow.”
Don’t let these weeks be wasted.
What if we used these days to purposefully work on our marriages, friendships, families, and walks with God? Restaurants are closed or basketball practiced is cancelled? Reach out to people you know in local businesses and communities and see how they are doing. Check up on each other. Instead of social media, spend time in prayer or read a novel or open up that journal sitting on your shelf or teach your kids how to worship. Sunday gatherings are not happening? Go around and ask your neighbors if there’s anything they need. If possible, get together in a small groups and share the Lord’s table. Be flexible. Routine is a fine thing, but it can be stifling to your spiritual growth. Ask God, what do you have for me today?
Of course, your life is busy and will remain so, and everyone has their own unique challenges and I’m not making assumptions about your life. But we are looking at an unprecedented slowdown of life in our world today, and it’s an opportunity we should take advantage of. For a few weeks, the world is getting smaller. Don’t let fear and uncertainty shrink your soul, as well. Jesus said to not be anxious about tomorrow—which requires some self-discipline and practice. This could be an unmatched chance to “seek first the Kingdom of God.” Don’t let it slip away.
The Church is built for times like this. And as quarantines and anxious chatter advance across the nation, rest your soul in the peace of Jesus. Psalm 131 says: “I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul...O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forevermore.”