I was visiting with a 93-year-old man this week and he says that he’s never been through anything like this current pandemic in his entire life. He’s a retired military veteran and has seen a lot, but he shakes his head over how the entire world has been impacted by the coronavirus.
It certainly has been a shock to all of our systems—from healthcare to the economy to our social relationships. During every other crisis our nation has faced, we’ve been able to come together for comfort and companionship. Not this time. We cannot meet in our coffee shops, bars, churches, or even homes, for that matter. Possibly the greatest challenge of COVID-19 is the isolation we’ve been forced to endure. Think about it: when you want to punish an inmate in a way they won’t forget, you put them in solitary confinement. We were not made to be alone, and it’s been one of the hardest parts of enduring these weeks of separation. As a pastor who is all about gathering people together, this has posed some new challenges for how to shepherd a congregation.
I hope we never go through something like this again, yet at the same time, I don’t want to come out the other end of this forgetting some of the priceless lessons I’m learning, lessons that are making me a better and happier person going forward. Here are some of the truths and values that many of us are learning:
I miss eating out, going to the movies, and watching sports, but I’m finding that home-cooked meals, or putting a puzzle together at home can be just as fulfilling. Our experiences are just the placeholders for the relationships we share. When this pandemic is over, I anticipate we will enjoy our dinners out and cookouts at home so much more. I look forward to looking in people’s eyes again and hearing about their lives and things that really matter. Life is a gift and health can be fragile, so we ought to spend as much time with loved ones as we can while we have the opportunity.
I notice that people aren’t driving as aggressively and in the stores, everyone seems a bit more patient and kind. I also notice more Facebook posts expressing gratitude for others, like our healthcare workers, teachers and first responders. When I walk outside into the cool morning air or the warmth of a sunny afternoon, I’m more attentive to the beauty all around. There are bunnies, deer, antelope, eagles and hawks around that we normally take for granted, yet now they appear so lovely. This is indeed a hard season, but living in Colorado Springs is a good place to be right now.
I do not believe that God caused this virus to punish the world; however, I do believe that God allows human decisions to play out to ultimately show how desperately need Him. The Scriptures remind us often that our lives are like a mist, and that we’re wise to rely upon Him Who is eternal, who sees and knows everything and Who wants to be intimately involved in our lives. If this pandemic has taught me anything, it’s reminded me how little we actually control and our best option is to lean on Someone who offers Himself as a constant source of strength, peace, hope and joy.
When we finally come out of this challenging season, we can choose to be bitter about what you’ve lost, or you can be better because of what you’ve gained. What will you choose?