Eight-and-a-half weeks ago on a Friday night I gathered with some of my girlfriends at a local restaurant to celebrate two of our birthdays. We lingered at the table for several hours, the atmosphere was busy and full of laughter and conversation. No one was wearing a mask.
Two days later my family attended church. We worshipped side by side with other believers, exchanged handshakes and hugs, had conversations with friends standing much closer than six feet apart. Little did I know that those events would be the last social gatherings that I would experience for a very long time.
Looking back on the past 8 weeks, the amount of change that has occurred is surreal. So many of the things that we have depended on as a normal part of daily life have been stripped away. Corporate worship, gathering with friends and the privilege of sending my children to a classical Christian school where they are enriched in so many ways. These especially feel like deep, deep losses. And indeed they are! There are many things to grieve during this season.
Transitions tend to bring out the worst in us. When we are deprived of what we
think we need to be happy and comfortable, our true nature is revealed. This pandemic hasn’t suddenly turned us into irritable, frustrated, demanding people. Rather, these circumstances have not-so-subtly revealed the sin that has been there all along. A couple months ago, it was easier to prevent these hidden sins from bleeding out because we could apply our bandaids of choice: shopping, sports, dining out, coffee indulgences, time with friends…busyness. Personally, the “2 hour stroll through TJ Maxx” bandaid is one of my favorites. I just know that finding a cute new pair of shoes would surely settle this discontentment in my soul!
Our current situation has turned up the heat on our idols. Much like the method that a goldsmith uses to purify gold, the heat of our circumstances has brought the impurities in our hearts to the surface. It has revealed even more deeply to me my idol of comfort.
There is nothing comfortable about our current situation. I’m uncomfortable teaching my children, which has been revealed by my lack of patience and knowledge. I am uncomfortable navigating Zoom calls. I am uncomfortable with the constant swirling of noise around me and lack of alone time.
It is good to look forward to something better and to long for the other side of this
darkness. But we are often mistaken at what that better thing is, and what we should be longing for. I have found myself thinking when things get back to normal, and making plans for all of the places we will go, things we will do and restaurants we will visit. I know I am grasping at the air for some sense of control and hope.
Placing our hope in life post-quarantine will only prove to disappoint and fail us. A
world free from Covid-19 will still be covered in a dark blanket of sin. Even when life returns to normal, we will still suffer from discontentment and unhappiness, and our hidden sins will still fight to overtake us.
Our hearts have been crafted to long for and rest in Christ alone. In all circumstances, we are called to believe His promises. He is making all things new, even when we don’t understand His plans and can’t see the outcome.
The stripping away of comforts and the revealing of idols is painful. But much like the goldsmith at work, the heat is full of purpose. My prayer is that on the other side of this pandemic, hindsight will show that this was a season of our deep need driving us to the Father, and refining us in ways that our bandaid-covered life never could.