Written by Tami Boesiger
My neighborhood is eerily hushed. Occasionally you’ll hear the sound of kids playing, but it’s not the usual squealing and laughter. People walk up and down the street, but no one is talking, like there’s an unspoken death march requiring solemnity. The grocery store feels bizarre. It’s so quiet I notice there’s no music playing in the overhead speakers. Was there ever? Shoppers meander the aisles, heads down, saying nothing, as if noticing the presence of another may invite unwanted contact. The empty shelves scream “Nothing is normal” while the recorded message reminds everyone to honor social distancing, a new term hijacking our daily vernacular.
So many things we used to give no thought to are now part of our every day. I never used to cross the street while on a walk to avoid meeting another. I never applied hand sanitizer after handling the gas pump. It never occurred to me it might be a good idea to wipe down everything I just brought home from the grocery store or refrain from scratching my cheek when it itches. I never had to determine the appropriate time and place to wear a mask. I never thought twice about offering a pat on the back, a handshake, a hug.
And if all this isn’t enough, phasing back into life as we knew it (Is this even possible?) is complicated and uncertain, dependent on factors beyond anyone’s control. Without a doubt, coronavirus has called us to a new level of perseverance. It’s discouraging at best, lonely, exhausting, depressing. How long will this go on? What will the future look like? Will we turn into germaphobes, feeling threatened by contact we used to take for granted? Will fear keep us in isolation, settling for Zoom meetings instead of the real deal, even after we get the green light to resume activity? How have we been changed?
So many unknowns. So much to worry about. Yet it’s important to remember that navigating a global pandemic may be new but living in the tension between uncertainty and trust is not. All people from any generation understand the dicey balance of holding to faith tightly while facing a hazy horizon. It’s uncomfortable and uneasy and no one likes it. But Scripture displays a distinct pattern. God often puts his people in impossible situations, asking them to do crazy, weird things in the name of trust.
Build a giant boat. I’ll tell you when to get on it. Never mind the mocking of your neighbors.
Flee to the desert in search of a mysterious Promised Land.
March around the walls of Jericho silently for days. On the seventh day blow those trumpets!
Gideon, take your 300 men against armies so vast they are impossible to count. Here are some trumpets, empty jars, and torches. Go to it!
Greetings, you who are highly favored! You will become pregnant with the Son of God out of wedlock.
Die a horrific death so that humanity might live with us forever.
Impossible requests for His chosen with no assurance of what might happen, nudged by whispers of “Trust Me.” But in each case, every single time, the faith of taking the next step resulted in a miracle or new chapter of restoration. With Noah came a fresh start and the promise of never wiping out mankind again (not even with a pandemic). The newly freed Hebrews crossed the Red Sea on dry land, watching their enemies drown behind them, witnessing miracles of provision in their wandering. Those walls came tumbling down and the Israelites took the city. Gideon and his people sat in awe as the powerful Midianites and Amalekites defeated each other! Mary did, indeed, bear the Messiah who lived on earth, gaining understanding and compassion into the nuances of being human, helping all mankind know that even God gets us. Jesus made a way, left a Helper, and is preparing a place for us, changing everything.
We are on the precipice now, just as they were, on the edge of the first, scary steps. We don’t know how this is going to work. What will we have to do differently? We feel anxious. Will we ever feel normal? It’s hard to imagine how anything will be the same. Yet, we too, can sense the whisper.
We have a choice. We can fret, and stew, and worry, or we can believe God’s Word, that He causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). We can hold our breath and take the next step, expecting God to follow through, expecting Him to make good of it, expecting restoration and something new. What miracle may be waiting for us? What GOOD may be on the other side of COVID-19? Looking to the days ahead with expectation and hope, waiting for what God might do, can help us breathe easier. If we concentrate on His restorative healing power, on His pattern in history to restore those willing to take the next step, we calm the storm of fear and anxiety.
Take heart, my friends. Do the next thing. Take whatever the next step is. God is working, even when we cannot see. The future could be brighter than the past. Hold on to his promises in Romans 5:3-5, “There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!”
There may be good on the other side. There may be very good. We absolutely will get through this. One step at a time. And we may be better than ever.
Tami Boesiger is a counselor at The CORE. She sees the pain and wants to help, longing for people to stop “gutting out” life and start living it. Let her help you de-stress, unpack, and release the things holding you back.