The coronavirus is evil.
It’s killing people, causing financial hardship, and preventing us from being in physical community with the people we love. And let’s not forget—we also got robbed of March Madness, for crying out loud! (Can’t believe the Final Four would’ve been this weekend.) History books and documentaries will chronicle this COVID-19 time as one of the most pivotal in this century, with ripple effects we haven’t even begun to understand.
Yet, I firmly believe that this seemingly dystopian time we are living through, while incredibly challenging, is not a curse, but rather a blessing. And choosing to believe that this time is a blessing can help determine whether you come out of this crisis stronger, or whether it chews you up and spits you out.
Like it or not, we’ve had more changes to our daily lives than ever. Stay-at-home orders. Everything that’s not life-sustaining shut down. Friends not being with friends. Grandparents not seeing their grandchildren. Worship services not happening in buildings. Changes in where we work, how we work, if we work. It feels like there’s a general blanket of heaviness over our country right now. These changes have all landed somewhere between mildly inconvenient and downright brutal.
Think of other times in your life when you’ve been forced to make changes. Changes that ultimately led to your own good, but in the moment, you hated. Maybe even seemed impossible. Maybe it was getting the bad report back on your cholesterol levels. Your father died of a heart attack around your age, your family has a history of heart disease, and you knew this was your wake up call: it’s time to stop eating Chick-fil-A and brownies three times a week. It was a fork in the road: continue down your current, perilous path, or choose a harder path-the path that leads to losing 20 lbs, feeling better, and your wife being hot for you like when you were first married.
Or think of that chapter of your life when you used drinking as an escape from all the pain. The drinking became a little heavier than you planned or even realized, and one night, after too many drinks, you said or did something dumb that caused a lot of pain. It was likely that painful moment which led you to resolve to stop drinking. These times in our lives were not fun, yet God used them to make changes that we’re now incredibly grateful for.
I know most of us are not stoked about having to work from home, not go to movies, deal with childcare issues, and miss The Masters. I was just in a conference call with a friend who is working from home and has a one-year-old son, and while she was talking, she had to pause as her son was using a legit Dewalt drill on their electrical outlet. These are challenging times, indeed.
I have been learning this in a very personal way. I am married with four kids ranging from ages 5-18. Toward the start of the quarantine time, I was working incessantly from home, and when I wasn’t, I was inventing work, or at least not making use of any flexibility with my kids or my wife, Mary.
“Dad, can you shoot hoops with me for few minutes?”
“No son, I need to get back to some emails (that were sent to me one hour ago and don’t require an immediate reply).”
“Hey honey, can we eat lunch together?”
“No sweetheart, I’m trying to catch up on the most recent infection rates and flatten-the-curve strategies.”
“Hey dad, do you want to play me in a quick game of Madden? 10 minutes?”
“I can’t. I have some really important work to do.”
These were transcripts from conversations in our home during the first week of quarantine.
Because she is awesome, Mary pulled me aside after one of these days. “Tim, I know things are intense, but do you realize what you’re missing? Yes, I know there’s a lot to figure out in this new world, but don’t let life pass you by. When else in our lifetime will we be forced by law to spend mass quantities of time together? When else will all our other commitments be nixed and sports/concerts/activities canceled? When else will we have scads of free calendar space like we do now? When else will we have the quiet, the walks, the time to read? Tim, while this virus is evil, do you realize that this time is not a curse? It’s a blessing.”
No, I didn’t realize that. I didn’t at all. The potential blessing this time can be had sailed right over my dense head. I was stuck in the doom and gloom, the heaviness and anxiety. But God spoke to me right there, through my wife, and helped me see the gift of this time. And I made a decision: I’m going to suck the marrow out of this time I have with my family and those I love most.
As I say this, a few things are also worth noting: I am not feeling the personal effects of coronavirus like many are. Nobody in my family has been diagnosed with COVID. Nobody in our family provides frontline medical care. Nobody in our family has been laid off or had to lay people off. So I realize that this time has not hit me as hard as it’s hit many others. I also know that many are lonely right now. Maybe you live alone or with roommates who you’re not as close to, or you’re feeling extremely isolated. I pray regularly for everyone who is being impacted by this crisis in ways that I am not.
However, I will still say to all of you what I’m saying to myself: do not miss the blessing of this time. If you get stuck in the mire of all the distressing news stories and alarmist social media feeds, it will suck you down with it. Choose to helicopter up to see things at a higher plane, where God sees things.
Here’s a timeless truth from 2,000 years ago that’s been helping me. It’s as relevant today as ever:
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,
3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
This time is indeed a trial, maybe the worst our country has experienced in my lifetime. But it is both testing and growing our faith and our relationships—with God and others. And it’s developing perseverance in us. Those are great things!
That frenetic pace we usually run at?
We can rest more now.
This time is a blessing.
Those beautiful spring days we typically miss because we’re stuck doing work inside our offices or schools or homes?
We can take a walk in the middle of the day now.
This time is a blessing.
That schedule that usually keeps us busy with people we’re obligated to be with and prevents us from spending time with the ones we love most?
It’s gone! Out the window!
This time is a blessing.
Since I chose to believe that this time is a blessing and not a curse, I have been just as productive at work. I would even argue, more productive, AND I’ve also been enjoying special moments here or there with the people I love most.
“Hey Mary, I have a break in my conference calls. Let’s walk the dog together and catch up for a few minutes.”
“Hey kids, let’s play cards and have root beer floats—for the 3rd straight night!”
“I wouldn’t trade this time with each of you for the world.”
Don’t let this time pass you by—choose now to receive it as a blessing! If you do, you’ll come out of this crisis stronger, and you’ll also enjoy yourself along the way.