Will we desire to be more connected when this season of deliberate distancing is over? Will this isolation stir in us a renewed need for community? Will we find a deeper gratitude for the people and places we’d avoided in the past, like that one odd neighbor or our neglected gym. Will the introverts among us (myself a card-carrying member of that club) spring forth from their cocoons, at least for a little while, when we are again allowed to occupy the same spaces? Will we emerge more fully formed or deformed from our experiences? These are things I think about as I scan the horizon for a glimpse of sunlight just beyond the darkening clouds.
In this unsettled waiting, we get a taste of Creation’s groaning for all things to be made right, new, and whole. As we anticipate a day when we can shake hands or give a hug, visit our friends or share a meal with family, we recognize what has been lost and how desperately we want it back. Imagine the passing of eons from Adam and Eve’s banishment from the Garden to now, the wait continuing for the return of Christ and the words, “Behold! I am making all things new!” Our wait is much shorter, but yet we understand the yearning for the broken to be made whole. May we desire to experience the fullness of the Kingdom of God as much as we desire to experience the fullness of what we’ve lost!
When we see the fallout from this pandemic, the lives lost or permanently altered, we can be tempted to seek a cause, even to be desperate for one. If we can find the cause, maybe we can find a cure. I’m reminded of the story in John 9 of Jesus healing the blind man. Jesus is walking along with His disciples when He is asked the question, “Who sinned? This man or his parents that he was born blind?” Jesus’ answer derails the disciples’ assumption. “Neither… This happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” Jesus wasn’t saying that the blind man or his parents were sinless, just that it wasn’t their sin that caused the blindness. It’s often through the brokenness of the world manifested in things like blindness and virulent diseases that God reveals His presence and power. And He does so according to His will and not our own, which can leave us confused and questioning when what we want is a pat answer we can condense down to a slogan or a bumper sticker.
In a recent article in Time magazine, the theologian N.T. Wright reminds us of the biblical reality of lament. (The full article: https://time.com/5808495/coronavirus-christianity/ ). The psalms in particular are filled with lamentations, some resolving in hope and others not resolving at all. One of my Bible college professors spoke often of the tension found in scripture, and this is one of those examples. Like a suspended chord, we want resolution. We want a black-and-white answer as we’re offered a box full of gray crayons. Jesus tells us as He told His disciples two millennia ago, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.” (John 14:1) Trusting most often means not having all the answers and being okay with that.
As we keep our collective gaze on the horizon, may Paul’s words to the Philippians offer us reassurance: “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” In times that make so little sense to us, may we be comforted by His incomprehensible peace.