We find ourselves in an unprecedented time where businesses have been closed, gatherings have been banned, and our house has become the center of our life. In many ways, it is a throwback to a rural way of life where everything we do centers around home, as opposed to our workplace, school, or other places. One has to go back over 100 years to find a similar time where shutdowns of this magnitude have happened. For nearly all of us, we have never experienced a time like this. And it is affecting everyone.
If you are like me, there is a part of me that wishes it would just all go away. We want our normal life back. We want traditional schooling back. We want church services at the building back. We want sports back. The sooner, the better. And yet, if our emotions and desires are fixated on wishing things would come back, we may find ourselves missing something special. Because this moment of isolation has offered us a profound opportunity: a chance to stop and reflect. Distractions in our life have been minimized. There are fewer places to go and things to do. So now we have time to focus on what’s most important: our walk with God and our relationships with others.
Have you ever wondered why God did not allow Israel to go the short route to the Promised Land? After the Egyptians were defeated at the Red Sea, it would appear that the most efficient thing to do would be to get to the Promised Land as fast as we can. But God did not do that. Instead, they took the long route – the really long route – through the wilderness (Ex. 13:17-18). Why? Because there was work that God needed to do in them before He could work through them. The wilderness was to be a testing and training time. As one person has put it, once God took Israel out of Egypt, He needed time to get Egypt out of Israel. Time. They needed time. They needed space to slow down, reflect, focus on God and one another. Inexplicably, we have been given that same space right now.
There are two sides to this Coronavirus situation. One is the medical side. Yes, we pray for the sick. Yes, we pray for the health care workers. And we ask fervently that this pandemic would decline and stop for the health of our good world. But there is another side: the spiritual side. Our world has come to a stop. We have been placed in isolation. Maybe we need this. Maybe God needs to do some things inside of us. Maybe certain issues need to be worked out about us. Maybe this is “the good” that God will work out of this terrible situation (Rom. 8:28). Now is the time to pray like never before. Now is the time to read God’s word and other biblical literature like never before. Now is the time to journal. Because this is a wilderness and God might be preparing us for the promised land down the road.
Or He may not. Because when you are in the wilderness, you get tired and cranky. And you start to wish you were back in Egypt. And you just want it all to go away. We think back to life in February and we wonder, “Everything seemed real good then.” I can’t wait until we start doing those things again. Believe me, normal will come back. It will be different, make no mistake, but it will come back. The Lord has sustained his people through many plagues throughout history and He will do it this time. But until that day comes, don’t waste this moment. It could be the most transformative experience of your life.