Saturday, March 14, 2020 dawned as an uncertain day in America.
It was the first day of the first weekend on which the full brunt of the coronavirus pandemic precautions fell.
There would be no NCAA Tournament games, no high school state championship competition, no toilet paper left on store shelves and no guarantee about the future.
Something between uncertainty and panic gripped a nation attempting to adjust to a new normal, where social distancing and seclusion, if not outright quarantine, seemed the best defense against an enemy we could not see or even characterize accurately.
I pulled back our master-bedroom curtains on a different world and saw something I did not anticipate.
It’s not all that uncommon for snow to fall in Ohio in mid-March, but it’s become very uncommon this mild winter.
Yet on this Saturday morning, the flakes drifted down majestically and covered the ground.
I pondered the wonder that no two flakes are alike, and thought about God using this very common – yet, this year, uncommon – occurrence to remind me of his sovereignty and majesty.
The sparkling white covering everything in sight, refreshing a landscape that the day before trended more gray than green. It reinforced in my mind the truth of being washed clean by the blood of Jesus, and how just like God provided a way for us to be holy in His sight through the death and resurrection of his Son, He is in control now even in these times.
My daughter came to the window and exclaimed, “I’ve NEVER seen flakes this big. They’re huuuuge.”
“They’re enormous,” I said.
“No, dad, they’re gigantic.”
“They’re massive,” I answered.
Back and forth we went, trading adjectives, until very soon we were laughing at each other.
Then we walked to the other end of our house together, my arm around her shoulders. Her mom – my wife – had been working in the office and didn’t hear our little game.
“Have you guys seen these snowflakes?” she asked. “I’ve NEVER seen snowflakes this big.”
My daughter responded: “They’re huge, mom.”
“No,” I said. “They’re enormous.” For the next 30 seconds, my daughter and I traded can-you-top-this descriptions of the snowflakes.
My wife didn’t know what to make of us, but when we started laughing, she started laughing.
Only minutes before, I’d been deep in thought about the troubles of the day as I opened our curtains. Now, God had refreshed my mind and given me a new perspective via His gifts of beauty and laughter.
It was a blessing to be reminded that even though we are embarking on days where everything we’ve known as routine has been turned upside down, there is still goodness to be found if we’re diligent in searching for it or recognizing it when given to us as a gift.
No one knows, because no one can know, quite yet the impact of the coronavirus on our country and our world. The best projections and estimates are still being calculated via too many variables to yield reliable results.
If you’ve been in a grocery store, you’ve seen evidence of people preparing for something in largely illogical ways. Toilet paper and bottled water are flying off the shelves. Why? No one can really explain. But it apparently makes people feel better to hoard something, even if it makes little sense.
Why do people panic? I think it’s because they sense a loss of control. More accurately, it’s a loss of perceived control, because none of us are really in control of anything.
Do you think Kobe Bryant thought he was in control of his life a few weeks ago on that fateful Sunday morning?
The precautions put in place as the confirmed cases of coronavirus increase are taking away our control over who we can see, what we can do, where we can go, and what we had planned.
That makes people more than nervous. It makes them crazy.
If that’s you, I’d like to encourage you to hit the pause button on panic. Let’s be purposeful in reshaping our thoughts about the opportunities this situation presents. That’s right, I said these times present opportunity.
If you concentrate on changing your thoughts of desperation, you will change your feelings of despair and a change in your actions will result.
Here’s how it works:
Current thought: “I might not be allowed to leave home.”
Current feeling: “ What if I run out of water? I might die.”
Current action: “I’m going to buy all the bottled water I can. I might even fight someone for that last case of bottled water, because my life depends on it.”
Here’s how it should work:
Changed thought: “I might not be allowed to leave home, but does that mean the water supply or the power grid have been compromised by a virus?”
Changed feeling: “No. Everything is working fine.”
Changed action: “I don’t need to panic about stocking up on bottled water.”
It’s a simple exercise, but it’s highly useful.
Focus on what you know to be true, instead of an irrational fear.
We have the chance over these next few weeks to recalibrate our lives, to grow closer to our families and to satisfy the one great human longing that we all have, which is to lock arms with each other and serve each other.
This is an opportunity for neighbors to be neighborly, to do something nice for someone else, whether it’s encourage them with a text message, complete an errand for them, bring them a meal…the possibilities are endless.
We may also have time to set and accomplish a goal of self-improvement during this time when our normal vocational and recreational activities have been dramatically altered.
If you are a believer in Christ, you have the opportunity to reflect a peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7) and draw others to Jesus. Most people aren’t comfortable witnessing about Him directly. They spend much of their life hiding behind this statement, “I don’t share my faith openly. I just try to live my life in such a way that others can see Jesus in me.”
If that’s been you excuse, then this is your chance to shine, brother!
It’s your chance to live out those promises that God will never leave you or forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:6), He will supply all your needs (Phillipians 4:19) and that worrying does you no good at all (Mathew 6:27-28).
We serve an awesome God who has already demonstrated through Christ the incalculable depth, breadth and width of His love for us. Yet He is also never averse to sending those little reminders on a daily basis, like snow, like laughter, like the fulfilment we receive by serving others.
“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His steadfast love endures forever.”Psalm 118:1,29