Dear pre-COVID me,
I couldn’t have warned you if I tried. Words just don’t do justice to how quickly things changed in just a few months.
One minute you’re finalizing spring break vacation plans at your favorite dinner spot and the next minute you’re fighting the urge to buy excessive amounts of nonperishable goods while calculating your family’s toilet paper usage.
It seems like overnight you learned a whole new vocabulary with words like social distancing, quarantine, ventilators, and droplet transmission. You’ve become proficient at Zoom and can intelligently debate herd immunity, vaccination timelines, and the best ways to flatten the curve.
Our once thriving economy is now handing out furloughs, and almost overnight we’ve become a nation of homeschoolers (oh, homeschooling, you’re really something). We’ve mourned for our high school seniors, worried about our senior adults, and lamented the increasing racial tension threatening to divide our great nation.
But, pre-COVID me, please know that somewhere along the way you’re going to stop to ask a really vulnerable but important question: God, where are you in the middle of this?
The answer may be hard to find as the days grow longer and the news seems darker.
But dig deep.
It’s there. He’s there.
You’ll find him in the still small places where he always has been and always will be revealing his greatest glory.
Look for God in everything from the birthday parades to the family baseball games. You’ll find him in the return of families around the dinner table and the unrushed nightly bedtime routines. He’s on your countless walks around the neighborhood and in the Zoom reunions with extended family.
You’ll feel his presence when you’re playing board games with your kids, teaching them how to cook and clean, and especially when you see your previously overcommitted family finding rest and perspective in a new, simplified routine.
You’ll hear amazing stories of God working through our frontline workers, caring selflessly for the sickest of patients and often at the expense of their own families. He’ll be evident in the melody of pots and pans banging from the balconies of high-rises as people unite in the most difficult of times.
God’s hand will be visible as communities rally together to support local businesses and as friends and neighbors dust off of old sewing machines to make face masks to protect each other. You’ll feel his presence when you look up to see the Blue Angels soar through the sky, or even as you look down and find messages of hope in colorful sidewalk chalk.
I guess what I would want you to know is that there are going to be some really hard times to weather, but, in the middle of the uncertainty, there’s an opportunity to reaffirm God’s promise that he is with us, for us, and will never leave us.
King David said it this way:
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
Even the darkness is not dark to God because he is light. There is nowhere we can go where he is not fully present, protecting us even as the things we hold certain seem to be crumbling around us.
The director of the CDC recently said the coronavirus has “brought this country to its knees.” While he was speaking only metaphorically, it’s a great reminder spiritually.
As you’re brought to your knees, may it not be in despair and anxiety like so many but in prayer and obedience, knowing that our hope is not in the security of this world but only in Jesus.
Look for his faithfulness in the big and small things.
And be brave in the “time-such-as-this” opportunities to speak hope to a struggling world.
“At the name of Jesus every knee should bow . . . and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” —Philippians 2:10–11