Here we are facing a global problem, unlike anything we've ever experienced in our lifetimes. The known is scary and saddening enough, but the unknown looms even more ominously. And headline “news” outlets aren't providing any hope for the future.
But there is hope, of course. At some point, we will be through this, though at some (perhaps significant) cost. I think then we will have the opportunity for some profitable discussions in our homes, churches, communities, and countries. We have gotten “off-track” lately (the last 30 years) with how we live together in our communities, what we want from our country's leaders, and how we manage our resources.
This virus is exposing us; It's revealing some patterns and problems that for too long we've ignored. We feel fragile in ways we never have before, even during 9/11 and the Cold War. We can see the fragility of humanity – we don't often feel fragile – of our economy, of our personal “safety,” and of our institutions (in this case, our healthcare system). Like adolescents who always feel invincible, Americans have a trust that “everything will be alright” for various cultural reasons. Yet, here we are and we aren't sure that everything will be alright… or at least the same as we envisioned they'd be 30 days ago.
So, how are you doing? What are you learning in the midst of these days? What are you learning about yourself? About what you hold dear? About your relationship with God? Crises have a way of helping us gain immediate clarity on these matters if we're paying attention.
I think this crisis will change how America and Americans moves forward in the future. We have some work to do, clearly, in our healthcare system, our political system, our economics, and in the way we travel:
- In the same way that 9/11 changed some things after the emergency response, I think we'll see an overhaul to healthcare that is more coordinated and focused on the public good.
- I think the absurdity of our political system is now exposed in these two (2016 and 2020) presidential cycles. We have candidates at the top of each ticket who are not the best candidates from each party if they are really from the party at all anymore. How have we gotten to the point where we can't find true catalytic and principled leaders in our political systems?
- It seems like this is exposing the embedded greed in our economics as organizations, companies, and people are exposed for not having cash-on-hand to weather 6-12 months' worth of crisis.
- Finally, free travel has been an accelerator to the spread of this virus and I think we'll see measures in place to monitor the global trekkers more closely.
The Bigger Question
Crisis always forces us to ask ourselves in what or whom do we trust? The underlying reality is that we are merely human with the ability to be bruised, sick, vulnerable, and with a finite timeline. Our mortality is staring us in the face in these days and challenging us to identify what we hold most dear. The stuff we own, the plans we have for the future, our dreams for how everyday comforts will look, and even the arguments we have with others are vaporized when staring in the face of a crisis like a global virus.
The drive for more (e.g. earnings) at the expense of prudent stewardship is without protection when the bottom falls out from underneath. The Bible is clear that crises expose the inherent greed in the world (Revelation 18) and in our lives. When the future is in question, it is often our plans for more that we want to hang on to and not lose. Perhaps our lives will slow a bit this coming year and we'll enjoy new things in new ways as we rebuild our lives and our country.
Our Hope Comes from the Lord
These days, Kelly and I have been talking about our “hope” and what it means to have our hope in Christ looks like. Certainly, we (like you) are praying with new conviction and intensity, We are praying for churches and believers all across the country and for families who have had their lives disrupted. And for those who are mourning and grieving the loss of cherished loved ones.
Kelly and I have been citing Psalm 121 often these days and I leave it with you as encouragement. May you draw close to Jesus in these days with new confidence and fervency. May we all examine where our hope is placed and what God might be inviting us to experience anew. What does it look like for you, for me, to place all of our hope(s) in Jesus? How might Jesus answer that question on our behalf?
A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem.
1 I look up to the mountains—
does my help come from there?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth!
3 He will not let you stumble;
the one who watches over you will not slumber.
4 Indeed, he who watches over Israel
never slumbers or sleeps.
5 The Lord himself watches over you!
The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.
6 The sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon at night.
7 The Lord keeps you from all harm
and watches over your life.
8 The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,
both now and forever.
Clarify your Purpose
I want to share a proven resource guide that I first used in my own life and have since used with many other leaders. The simple process helps to clarify your purpose, your bucket of what you do in practice, and then the path you need to take as you take your best next steps forward.