A clergy colleague sent me an article which has prompted me to think differently about our current situation. As the title makes clear, the authors, Andy Crouch, Kurt Keilhacker, and Dave Blanchard, focus on organizations and how the pandemic affects them, “Leading Beyond the Blizzard: Why Every Organization Is Now a Startup”. But I think that their weather metaphor also speaks to us as individuals.
They use the metaphor of a blizzard and a “12–18 month ‘ice age.’” I think this is an important distinction. We are familiar with blizzards, or at least snow storms. We know what to do when the weather forecast tells us that heavy snow is on the way. We head out to the supermarket and stock up on toilet paper, bread, and milk. If it is a hurricane we might add bottled water in fear of an interruption in our water supply. When we were told that we would be in a lockdown for COVID 19 that is how we responded, but in the extreme. We had never experienced a lockdown so we resorted to responding to something we knew. We stocked up not for a weekend, week or even a month. We stocked up thinking these things might never be available. I know people who bought additional refrigerators, freezers, and storage space in order to store all that they were buying.
Now that we are more than six weeks into this lockdown we are not quite so frantic about stocking up on these “necessities.” The initial anxiety of the unknown is not so overwhelming, but there remains for many a wariness of the what is ahead. When will it be safe to gather in groups again? How long will the need for social distancing continue? When will it be safe for children and teachers to go back to school and to college? Will telecommuting continue? How many Zoom meetings must I attend in a day? These, to extend the weather metaphor, are not blizzard questions so much as little ice age questions. They are questions that we do not know how to answer, because none of us have lived through an ice age.
The world around us scurries to figure out the next thing to do. Cable news keeps us on tenterhooks waiting for the latest pronouncement from government and the scientific community. While situations are not changing as rapidly as they were a few weeks ago, we are still left with that sense of uncertainty and who are we to trust.
The answer for people of faith is that we trust in God. It may seem a rather simplistic on the face of it, but regardless of the situation whether it be the old normal of everydayness, lockdown, or something more extreme we are always called to trust in God. Psalm 40 says “Be still and know that I am God.” In Proverbs 3 we read “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” In Joshua it reads, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” And probably the most beautiful of these scriptures comes from Matthew’s Gospel:
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore, do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”–Matthew 6:25-33
These scriptures are not idle nonsense, but indications of our true hope. In a world and situation that seems to be constantly changing, filled with uncertainty and where trust is hard to find we know that all rests in God. God is infinitely reliable, God is certain, God is worthy of our trust. We know through the full measure of our lives that God is with us. We know that God is at our side regardless of what the world throws at us.
We can get frantic about the news and mixed messages from government. Or we can rest in God. This course does not mean to put our heads in the sand ignoring the practical, but let’s not let that rule our lives. We already know that this is more than a blip on the screen. It is a situation that is changing our lives in the short term and in the longer term as we learn how to live in a post-pandemic world. If we rely on what the world is telling us we will not be able to get through. If we are willing to be still in God and strive for God’s kingdom come, we will not only live through this current situation, but we can go confidently into the future hand in hand with God.