The coronavirus has shut down the system. Everything has been disrupted, upended or unsettled. Isolated from one another, we’re uncertain, disorientated, anxious, overwhelmed, or sorrowful. As the storm surges, we’re scrambling to adjust. As we struggle to understand, we’re trying to figure out what to do.
COVID-19 is one of the most dangerous diseases that we’ll face in our lifetime. Things are going to be different for some time. Yet it’s not all bad news. While a vaccine is being developed, it’s a chance to reboot.
Opportunities to recalibrate are usually rare. The limitations imposed by COVID-19, while devastating, open the door to new prospects and possibilities. Now that we have some time on our hands, what will we do with it?
To begin, we shouldn’t waste time trying to explain the unexplainable. Asking why God has allowed this pandemic to happen won’t make much of a difference. Instead of looking for reasons, we should recover the biblical practice of lament. As the Anglican theologian, N. T. Wright reminds us, “it is part of the Christian vocation not to be able to explain—and to lament instead.”
We should also recognize that along with the world, we’re all broken. When the Israelites returned to Judah after 70 years of captivity in Babylon, they detected, despite the fact that they had rebuilt Jerusalem, that something was still broken – themselves. This pandemic has brought us face to face with a harsh reality, despite everything humanity has built over the centuries, something is still broken – ourselves.
We are in exile because of COVID-19, and we need healing – physically and spiritually. Spiritual healing doesn’t come from a needle. An anti-viral injection can’t give us immunity from the darkness that plagues our souls. Resurrection comes through crucifixion. The healing we need in our inner being comes from embracing the Healer, Jesus Christ.
With our usual routines and hectic pace interrupted, the coronavirus enables us to ask, “What is God saying to me/us at this time?” Asking and answering this question could become a turning point for individuals, the Church, and the nation.
If there’s going to be a turning point, there needs to be a starting point. The starting point is to engage and reengage with Jesus. “This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Return to me,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will return to you,’ says the Lord Almighty” Zechariah 1:3 (NIV).
To return to the Lord we must return to the Bible. In these days of uncertainty and disorientation, we need certainty and orientation. God’s Word is sufficient for all our needs. As the pandemic surges, the Scriptures are the anchor in the squall. Those who abide in the Word will ride out the squall.
When the post-Babylonian Israelites realized their brokenness “they told Ezra the teacher of the Law to bring out the Book … and He read it aloud from daybreak till noon as he faced the square before the Water Gate in the presence of the men, women and others who could understand. And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law” Nehemiah 8:1-2 (NIV).
Note the phrase “listened attentively.” The beginning of something new will begin when we open our ears to hear the Word of the Lord.
Finally, we should pray. A new normal will emerge when the pandemic is over. The new normal will be an outcome of how we do or do not pray. COVID-19 is an invitation to pray. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened” Matthew 7:7-8 (NIV).
Reboot. When we engage and reengage with Jesus there is “a future and a hope” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV). Bad news will become good news. Life will blossom from death. What’s broken will be made whole again.
© Scripture Union Canada 2020