Two questions many are asking are: “How long is this going to last?” and “How bad is it going to get?” Frustratingly, we don’t have the answer to either of those questions. In our planning, we need to prepare for this to continue for months, not weeks. We must anticipate further struggles and losses. However, no matter how long or how bad it gets, we need to keep trusting God and look for ways to care for others. It’s a remarkable chance to walk out our faith.
You probably know that the Chinese word for “crisis” is a combination of two Chinese characters meaning “danger” and “opportunity.” Problems always have possibilities and every black cloud has a silver lining. So what are some of the silver linings of this coronavirus crisis? Here are four:
1. It exposes our idols. Someone said that we might not have been exposed to the virus, but we have all been exposed BY it. The things we thought were certain have been shaken. Have they been our idols? Our routines. Our health. Our jobs. Our finances. What we are depressed and anxious about may well be the things we have put ahead of our relationship with God. This is a time for us to repent and recommit ourselves fully to God.
2. It gives us more opportunities to share Jesus. This past week, I’ve been talking with a number of our pastors and leaders throughout the Conference. One pastor shared that a guy from the East Coast called him after hearing his sermon online. The pastor was able to lead him to the Lord right on the phone. Another pastor in one of our smaller communities said that almost every conversation seems to be about faith. People are anxious and looking for answers and we are people of the good news.
3. It forces us to be more creative. All of us have had to adapt. How can we be the church without a building? What does it look like to serve others while we are mandated to stay apart? Some of our churches went online for the first time last Sunday. Learning to communicate and stay connected online is a new challenge. Small groups are using platforms like Zoom and Facetime to study the Bible and pray together. Many are reaching out to high-risk people via phone and online chats. Running errands and supplying basic needs at the door of those in need are things we all can do.
4. It leads us to rethink our priorities. What really is important? The Apostle Paul wrote, “if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content” (1 Timothy 6:8). When all that’s normal is stripped away, we realize that there are just a few things that matter. Yes, food and shelter and health, but more important is our relationship with others. We are going through withdrawals because we haven’t seen our grandkids for a while. Two trips to be with them were canceled because of the coronavirus. Even the simple things like a hug and hanging out are missed during this time of isolation. Who will we be when this is over? We can begin to cultivate those behaviors now.
BEFORE YOU GO
We can’t lean into this promise enough: “We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
God specializes in taking bad situations and turning them into something good for His glory.
So what other silver linings you have seen during this time of crisis?