Quarantine. Flatten the curve. Incubation period. Surge capacity. Social distancing.
In the past two weeks, these phrases have become a regular and regretful part of our vernacular.
Many people I interact with are frustrated. They feel their “normal” lives slipping through their fingers. We’re being asked to avoid crowds of any size; to work from home with kids running around feet; to stay inside as much as possible.
History is very clear. This is not a “new normal.” Life has always been difficult. People have always had to make hard choices. Humanity has always had to take suckerpunches from infection, financial hardship, war, famine, and death.
In just four years, the Bubonic Plague killed 200 million people—30-50% of Europe’s population at the time. The continent was so decimated, it took more than 200 years to recover.
The Spanish Flu took place during WW1 and lasted two years. It infected 25% of the world’s population and tens of millions of people died. Mail carriers transferred the virus to Alaskan villages and tribes have since gone completely extinct.
The American Civil War claimed more than 1.5 million casualties—lives lost through battle, injury, sickness, or capture. Nearly one out of every four soldiers that left never came home. All of that bloody conflict happened on our own soil, in places we now call home.
And that’s just scratching the surface.
We haven’t even mentioned the World Wars, the Irish Potato Famine, the Great Depressions, or genocides. In our own lifetimes, there have been devastating outbreaks of AIDS and Ebola; armed conflicts in Vietnam and Afghanistan; 9/11; famines in sub-Saharan Africa and Yemen.
We all know people who have died early, unexpected deaths or been permanently maimed. We also know people who have irreparable health conditions that cause us to wonder, “How would I live without the use of my legs?” Those friends of ours are probably less apt to ask the “Why me and why now” question with COVID-19 because they’ve already figured out that this life isn’t fair or easy.
Are you depressed yet? Already stopped reading the article? Plugging your ears with your fingers and muttering “La la la la”? We don’t like to look reality in the face. Our spirituality is worthless if it isn’t born out of difficulty and able to weather more difficulty. Every hero of the faith in the Bible became one because of hard circumstances. It isn’t the difficulty that made them heroic, it is the way they responded to difficulty.
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life
To get the crown of life we have to undergo a trial so that we can pass a test. No trial, no test, no crown of life. Our faith actually needs difficulty to grow and remain vibrant. This is the way that God has worked with all the greats that have come before us and we are not immune. The ability to be strong with God void of trials is an illusion.
If you’re being disillusioned by the coronavirus outbreak—good. Your illusions need to be dissed. Our illusions of an easy-button life, one without conflict or heartbreak or struggle, need to be left behind. To be sure, no one wants those things. But living in a world where nothing difficult ever happens is a distinctly American illusion. It is not reality. This crisis is smacking us in the mouth. Truth hurts sometimes.
Life is hard, but the faithful and resilient people don’t wither underneath it.
Instead, they rise up. They grab the hard reality of their life and take action instead of cowering in a corner. Every person who is a “hero” has earned that title through enduring hardship and difficulty. How many heroes has our generation produced? Not as many as previous generations because our lives have been too easy to even qualify for consideration.
One day, our lives will return to normal. In the meantime, let’s not be lulled into passivity by the belief that we’re suffering more than most. Life is hard, but we don’t have to take the punches lying down. Get up and into the fight. You’re needed now more than ever. And, your future self will be glad you did.
Every other Friday, thousands of people get unfiltered encouragement and challenge from me delivered to their inboxes. I sent this out to my email list and got so much positive feedback, I wanted to share it with all of you. If you enjoy it, subscribe for more at the bottom of the page or at briantome.com. To quote the great John McClane… “Welcome to the party, pal.”